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Browns vs. Bengals Final Score: Cleveland’s offense comes alive with 35-30 victory

Baker Mayfield and the running game score five touchdowns for the Browns’ first win of the season.

Cincinnati Bengals v Cleveland Browns Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

For a national game, the Battle of Ohio did not disappointment and was full of excitement. Fortunately, it was the Cleveland Browns that won that battle, moving to 1-1 with a 35-30 victory on Thursday Night Football over the Cincinnati Bengals. Let’s get to the recap of the game.


1st Quarter

The Browns kicked off to begin the game, and the special teams unit didn’t start out well by allowing a return to the 39 yard line. Bengals QB Joe Burrow took Cincinnati down the field with calm throws. However, the 15-play, 41-yard drive saw DE Adrian Clayborn notch an 11-yard sack on third down in the red zone, forcing the Bengals to settle for a 38-yard field goal to give them a 3-0 lead.

QB Baker Mayfield found success on his first drive of the game, using the bootleg on back-to-back plays to complete passes to WR Jarvis Landry and WR KhaDharel Hodge. Cleveland even overcame a 1st-and-22 situation with ease, with the assistance of some scrambling from Mayfield. RB Nick Chubb finished the drive with a strong 11-yard touchdown run to give the Browns a 7-3 lead.


2nd Quarter

The Bengals’ second drive featured a sack by DT Sheldon Richardson, and then on third down, Burrow went to call a timeout as the center snapped the ball. The ball sailed over Burrow’s head and he covered up for a loss of 22 yards, leading to a punt.

The Browns’ struck gold again on their next drive. After a 13-yard run by Chubb, Mayfield again playaction faked and rolled to his left, finding WR Odell Beckham streaking up the left sideline for a 43-yard touchdown pass. K Cody Parkey connected on the extra point again to give Cleveland a 14-3 lead early on in the second quarter.

Instead of it turning into a rout, Burrow struck back. The Bengals were sparked yet again by another big kickoff return, this time for 45 yards. Inside of Cleveland territory, Burrow found RB Joe Mixon on an 18-yard arrow route, followed by a breakdown in coverage that allowed him to connect with TE C.J. Uzomah for a wide open 23-yard touchdown. That cut Cleveland’s lead to 14-10 with nine minutes to go in the second quarter.

On the Browns’ third drive, they tried to begin with a fake double reverse leading to a screen pass, but RB Kareem Hunt was caught up in traffic, so Mayfield threw the ball away. Unfortunately, he didn’t get the ball back to the line of scrimmage, leading to an intentional grounding. Backed up in a 2nd-and-24, Cleveland could only get to 4th-and-1 before punting. The defense held strong on their next drive, though, to force a punt right back with better field position.

Mayfield had the offense moving on the next drive with a good mix of runs and passes. He would have had Beckham for another big play up the left sideline, but the official missed a blatantly obvious pass interference call where the defender grabbed his jersey. Nonetheless, Cleveland still continued to move the chains via the ground, getting into the red zone at the two-minute warning. Facing a 3rd-and-goal, the Bengals blew a coverage and left Hunt wide open at the front pylon for a 6-yard touchdown, giving the Browns a 21-10 lead with 1:31 to go in the half.

The Bengals were still able to add points before the end of the half, as Burrow got the Bengals in position for a 43-yard field goal, which Bullock connected on to make it a 21-13 game.


3rd Quarter

Cleveland received the ball to begin the second half and were keyed by a 3rd-and-9 conversion for 11 yards to TE Austin Hooper to move the chains, and then a 22-yard pass to WR Jarvis Landry on 4th-and-2 from the 44 yard line. Mayfield then handed off to Chubb, who took it left side, breaking tackles, for a 22-yard gain down to the 1 yard line (it was originally a touchdown, but replay ruled him just short).

Unfortunately, Chubb was stuffed on first and second down, and the third down pass to Beckham was incomplete. Rather than taking the two-possession lead with a field goal, Stefanski opted to go for it on 4th-and-goal from the 2, and Chubb was denied just shy of the end zone for a turnover on downs. Little did we know, a few minutes later, Cleveland would get a mulligan.

When the Bengals took over, Burrow got DT Larry Ogunjobi to jump on a hard count to give Cincinnati some breathing room. After one first down, though, Cleveland’s defense picked up the intensity. First it was a knockdown of a pass by CB Denzel Ward, then a second down stuff of the run, and then on third down, DE Myles Garrett came around the edge to strip the ball, as DE Porter Gustin simultaneously planted Burrow, followed by DE Joe Jackson recovering the ball at the 1-yard line.

A playaction pass on 1st-and-goal from the 1 to Hooper was just out of bounds, but on second down, Chubb found paydirt for the second time of the game to give Cleveland a 28-13 lead with 5:45 to go in the third quarter.

Parkey kicked the ball out of bounds to begin the next drive, giving Cincinnati the ball at the 40 yard line. Then, after a short completion, S Andrew Sendejo was penalized 15 yards for lowering his helmet on a hit. The Bengals showed a sense of urgency on offense, but faced a decision in the red zone on 4th-and-5 from the 20 yard line. They went for it, and Burrow found a gap up the middle to squeeze through and run for a first down.

The Bengals continued to go hurry up, and on 3rd-and-1 from the 4 yard line, RB Giovani Bernard took it down to the 1 yard line. On 1st-and-goal from the 1, Mixon was stuffed for a loss of 4 yards. On 2nd-and-goal from the 5, S Karl Joseph was flagged for defensive holding, making it 1st-and-goal from the 2. Burrow rolled out and hit WR Tyler Boyd, but he dropped it. On 2nd-and-goal from the 2, Burrow kept the ball on the keeper but was taken down for a loss. Cincinnati eventually settled for a 27-yard field goal to make it a 28-16 game heading to the fourth quarter.


4th Quarter

Cleveland got the ball, and this time it was RB Kareem Hunt’s drive to start. Hunt could not be denied, but then on 2nd-and-6 from the 26 yard line, Mayfield ran a playaction fake. He made a defender miss, and thought he had TE Harrison Bryant open over the middle for a touchdown — but he never saw CB William Jackson streaking from the other side for the interception.

Cleveland’s defense then had a chance to put the game on ice, as Cincinnati faced a 4th-and-5 from midfield. Burrow converted with a 13-yard completion to Boyd, advancing toward the red zone with 8 minutes to play in the game. Later in the drive, the Browns looked to have a sack after collapsing the pocket, but Gustin’s hand grabbed Burrow’s facemask for a penalty. Burrow finished the drive with just under 6 minutes to go with a 4-yard touchdown pass to WR Michael Thomas to make it a 28-23 game.

For anyone who thought the game was in danger, the running backs weren’t having any of that. The drive started with runs of 4 and 26 yards by Chubb, followed by a 33-yard run by Hunt down to the 12 yard line. Hunt followed that up with a run of 1 and then 11 yards, setting up 1st-and-goal from the 1 yard line. Hunt punched it in to give the Browns a comfortable 35-23 lead with 3:55 to go and the Bengals having no timeouts remaining.

To the credit of Burrow, he ran a lot of plays to get Cincinnati down the field, adding a touchdown throw to Boyd from 9 yards out to make it a 35-30 game. Bullock then went for the onside kick with 0:43 to go. FB Andy Janovich was on the hands team and recovered the onside kick to seal the deal.


Up Next

The Browns will play on September 27th, ten days from now, in their Week 3 match-up against the Washington Football Team. Until then, they can rest up, get healthy, enjoy the victory, and build chemistry.


Quick Hitter Stats

  • QB Baker Mayfield: 16-of-23 (69.6%) for 219 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT.
  • RB Nick Chubb: 22 carries, 124 yards (5.6 YPC). 2 TD. 1 catch, 9 yards (1 target).
  • RB Kareem Hunt: 10 carries, 86 yards (8.6 YPC). 1 TD. 2 catches, 15 yards (2 targets). 1 TD.
  • WR Odell Beckham: 4 catches, 74 yards (6 targets). 1 TD.
  • The Browns had 3 sacks.

Quick Hitter Notes

  • This was a much, much better game from the offense, executing everything I envisioned. Using the ground game to set up the playaction fake for Mayfield. Mayfield’s late interception will be a teaching point, because he had time to read it and needs to be more aware.
  • Burrow is a promising young quarterback, I liked a lot of the things I saw from him. But his personnel is much more challenged, including on the offensive line.
  • Cleveland’s special teams coverage was still a big issue, but at least Parkey was money on all five of his extra points.
  • Cincinnati had a little too much success on fourth down, going 5-of-5.
  • Despite being without RT Jack Conklin, the Browns’ offensive line did a great job.

Poll

How would you grade the Browns’ Week 2 offense?

This poll is closed

  • 45%
    A
    (510 votes)
  • 48%
    B
    (550 votes)
  • 5%
    C
    (59 votes)
  • 0%
    D
    (5 votes)
  • 0%
    F
    (7 votes)
1131 votes total Vote Now

Poll

How would you grade the Browns’ Week 2 defense?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    A
    (8 votes)
  • 6%
    B
    (74 votes)
  • 38%
    C
    (422 votes)
  • 42%
    D
    (465 votes)
  • 10%
    F
    (115 votes)
1084 votes total Vote Now

Poll

How would you grade the Browns’ Week 2 special teams?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    A
    (19 votes)
  • 7%
    B
    (82 votes)
  • 29%
    C
    (310 votes)
  • 40%
    D
    (421 votes)
  • 19%
    F
    (204 votes)
1036 votes total Vote Now