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Browns-Bengals Final Score: Cincinnati smokes Cleveland 31-7 in Battle of Ohio

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It was embarrassing from start to finish for Hue Jackson’s Browns.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

If it wasn’t clear before: the Cleveland Browns are the worst team in football. We’ve preached patience, and being without three of your top defenders certainly hurts. But at this point, the only thing fans have to look forward to is the possible debut of DE Myles Garrett next week against the Jets.

The Browns dropped to 0-4 on the season as the previously-winless Cincinnati Bengals dominated Cleveland 31-7 (meanwhile in Houston, Deshaun Watson had five touchdowns as the Texans blew out the Titans — ouch). If you’re miserable enough to find out what happened to get to that outcome, read on.

The Browns’ offensive woes started early. After receiving the ball first, they had a 3rd-and-short situation before a false start by WR Kenny Britt set them back. After the punt, Cleveland’s defense forced a fumble early on QB Andy Dalton, with DE Emmanuel Ogbah getting the sack and recovery, already in field goal range.

A slip by Britt on third down prevented the chains from being moved, and then K Zane Gonzalez was no good form 48 yards out. Cincinnati punted on their next possession, and S Jabrill Peppers called for a fair catch at his own 5 yard line despite having room to run. The Browns got their first first down of the game, and then a snap sailed over QB DeShone Kizer’s head for a loss of 14 yards, instantly killing the drive.

CB Adam Jones returned the punt 40 yards, giving Cincinnati great starting field position. The Bengals again capitalized on Cleveland’s poor red zone defense, as they decided to let Peppers cover WR A.J. Green man-to-man on 3rd-and-6 from the 7 yard line. Surprise: it didn’t end well, putting Cincinnati up 7-0 on the first play of the second quarter.

Cleveland responded by moving the ball downfield with a couple of good runs, mixed in with a 26-yard completion to Britt. But down in the red zone, Britt had a pass bounce off him near the goal line on third down and right into the arms of S Clayton Fejedelem for an interception.

On the Bengals’ next drive, Cleveland allowed TE Tyler Kroft to get a wide open 21-yard catch on 3rd-and-15. When the Bengals got in the red zone again -- surprise! Another touchdown allowed! This one was zipped to Kroft for the 3-yard score on 2nd-and-goal with just over two minutes to play in the first half. Cleveland went three-and-out in the two-minute drill after two of Kizer’s passes were off-target to open receivers.

Making things even worse, the Bengals struck again before the end of the half with a completely wide open 61-yard screen pass to RB Giovani Bernard. I mean, this is about as wide open/untouched as you’ll ever see in the NFL on a play like that.

The Bengals were thumping the Browns 21-0 at the half, and were set to receive the ball first to open the second half.

The Browns’ defense nearly picked off three passes on Cincinnati’s opening drive of the third quarter, but we know how it goes — they couldn’t come away with any of them, and K Randy Bullock settled for a 41-yard field goal to put them up 24-0.

The Browns’ opening drive of the third quarter? It began with a 6 yard loss, and ended with a three-and-out. Cincinnati methodically marched downfield on their next drive, finishing it with a 16-yard touchdown pass to Kroft to go up 31-0. The only eventful thing that really happened after that was the fact that Kizer was bailed out by officials -- and I can’t believe I’m defending Vontaze Burfict — on this bogus roughing the passer call that negated an interception.

With 6:30 to go in the game, Kevin Hogan came in...and the first play was a dropped pass by WR Rashard Higgins. Of course. But then after a couple of key connections to WR Ricardo Louis, Cleveland was finally back to the red zone. A pass interference penalty was called on an incomplete pass on 4th-and-goal, giving Hogan and the Browns one more stretch to avoid the shutout. (Scratch that, there was another pass interfernce penalty to give them another fresh set of downs). At long last, RB Duke Johnson punched it in from half a yard out, and the extra point made it 31-7. Whoopee.

Quick Hitters - Browns

  • QB DeShone Kizer: 16-of-34 for 118 yards, 1 INT. 5 rushes, 10 yards.
  • QB Kevin Hogan: 5-of-8 for 65 yards.
  • RB Isaiah Crowell: 7 carries, 20 yards. 1 catch, 7 yards (2 targets).
  • RB Duke Johnson: 4 carries, 13 yards, 1 TD. 9 catches, 47 yards (10 targets).
  • WR Kenny Britt: 3 catches, 52 yards (8 targets).
  • WR Ricardo Louis: 5 catches, 64 yards (9 targets).
  • DE Emmanuel Ogbah: 1 sack, 2 forced fumbles.