Well...the first half was awesome! And at the end of the day, the Cleveland Browns ended their road losing streak with a 35-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals, improving to 4-6-1 on the year. It’s their first two-game winning streak since 2014, and their 25-game road losing streak is over. And it came against Hue Jackson! Ha!
The Browns got the ball first and never looked back. They scored an opening-drive touchdown for the first time all season, connecting on 23-yard passes to both RB Nick Chubb and RB Duke Johnson. The drive was capped off with a 1-yard touchdown to go up 7-0.
Cincinnati’s first drive got into long field goal range, but K Randy Bullock’s 54-yard field goal was blocked!
That helped set up a shorter field on the next drive, and QB Baker Mayfield ran the hurry-up to pick up chunk plays. The drive ended with a 13-yard touchdown strike to WR Antonio Callaway to go up 14-0.
The Bengals didn’t muster anything on their next drive, and then to start the second quarter, it was David Njoku time! He caught a tight end screen pass, tried to do a big-time leap into the end zone but was stuffed three yards short, somehow got stood up, and then was pushed by his teammates into the end zone for a touchdown to go up 21-0.
The unraveling for Cincinnati continued as QB Andy Dalton was picked off by FS Damarious Randall on their next drive. Further adding to Randall’s legend, instead of going for the return, he walked straight up to Hue Jackson and handed him the ball!
DAMARIOUS RANDALL WITH THE TAKEAWAY‼️ pic.twitter.com/YWaYezuNfh— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) November 25, 2018
Is this real? The Browns capped off the next drive with an incredible 14-yard touchdown pass to Chubb...where he caught the ball on the back of the defender’s head and held on! That put the Browns up 28-0 with just over two minutes to play in the first half.
The Bengals did get a little bit of momentum to end the first half, sparked by big runs from Dalton and RB Joe Mixon. In goal-go-go, Dalton found WR John Ross for a 2-yard touchdown to make it 28-7 heading to the half.
The Bengals got a nice run to begin the second half, but then after a clipping penalty, the next snap by C Billy Price sailed way over Dalton’s head and DE Emmanuel Ogbah won the sprint with Dalton to recover the loose ball at the 7 yard line.
Two plays later, Mayfield found TE Darren Fells wide open for a 6 yard touchdown to give the team a 35-7 lead.
Dalton was injured on the previous series trying to recover the loose football, so backup QB Jeff Driskel entered the game. Both teams traded punts, and then Driskel found some success on his next drive, tossing a 28-yard touchdown pass to WR Tyler Boyd with under five minutes to go in the third quarter.
The Browns somewhat took their foot off the gas in terms of urgency, but their next punt pinned the Bengals back at the 5 yard line. Cincinnati proceeded to drive the ball for seven minutes, assisted by a fourth down roughing the passer penalty, to score on a 2-yard quarterback sneak by Driskel. Bullock missed the extra point off the upright, making it a 35-20 game with just under eight minutes to go.
Cincinnati then forced a quick three-and-out, and a decent punt return had their offense with the ball at the Bengals 43 yard line with 6:12 to go. Browns fans were getting nervous as the Bengals continued to drive, but the defense finally forced a turnover on downs with 3:09 to go after Cincinnati had driven to the 13-yard line.
The Browns ran a little clock off, mostly forcing Cincinnati to use their timeouts. After the two-minute warning, a big punt return gave the Bengals the ball at midfield, but they could go no further so Mayfield came out for a couple of kneeldowns. And then, there was this:
Baker snubs Hue. Awkward. pic.twitter.com/zoX3GmRVJU— Damon Kecman (@DownWithDamon) November 25, 2018
This game may leave fans a little bit of a mixed feeling because the first half was so amazing, and then for most of the second half, there was no offense (they just conservatively ran the ball) and lackluster defense against a backup quarterback. But they got the job done, and when you build that big of an early cushion, you earn the right to sit on a lead and save up your good playcalls for another day.
- QB Baker Mayfield: 19-of-26 for 258 yards, 4 TD. 4 rushes, -5 yards.
- RB Nick Chubb: 28 carries, 84 yards (3.0 YPC). 1 TD. 3 catches, 44 yards (3 targets). 1 TD.
- RB Duke Johnson: 2 carries, 16 yards (8.0 YPC). 1 catch, 23 yards (1 target).
- TE David Njoku: 5 catches, 63 yards, 1 TD.
- 1 sack for DE Myles Garrett.