After everything that happened this week, the Browns rallied and won the Battle of Ohio with their most complete game of the season, coming away with a 41-16 victory.
The Bengals received the opening kickoff, and the closest Cleveland came to stopping them was a 3rd-and-8 to begin the drive following two run plays. That’s when Joe Burrow started throwing the ball, connecting with a variety of receivers to set up a goal-to-go situation. The Browns’ defense stiffened up, and on 3rd-and-goal from the 8 yard line, they sacked Burrow. But DT Malik McDowell was offsides, giving Burrow another crack to score. The mistake actually paid off for Cleveland, as Burrow fired a pass to the pylon and CB Denzel Ward jumped it, taking it 99 yards for a touchdown.
Burrow led the Bengals right back down the field on the ensuing drive, as Ward was sidelined to receive oxygen. Cleveland’s best shot at coming up with a stop was on a third down pass to the backup running back, but LB Anthony Walker couldn’t stop him. Two plays later, a pitch play to RB Joe Mixon to the left side went for an 11-yard touchdown, tying things up at 7-7.
Cleveland’s defense had to be gassed seeing so many plays on the field to begin the game, so it was up to the offense to give them a breather. The offense started hot with big plays to RB Nick Chubb, including runs of 10 and 22 yards and a reception for 23 yards. An 11-yard completion from QB Baker Mayfield to TE Austin Hooper set up a 3rd-and-4 from the 7 yard line heading into the second quarter. Mayfield tried a fade to Hooper, but he was held in the end zone for pass interference, setting up the Browns at the 1 yard line. Two plays later, Chubb kept his legs churning for a touchdown to put the Browns back on top 14-7.
After the Bengals crossed midfield on their next drive, CB Troy Hill got a sack from a slot blitz to set up a 2nd-and-19. Burrow completed a 16-yard pass to WR Tee Higgins to set up a 3rd-and-3 from the 40 yard line, and that’s when Cleveland caught a break. On third down, the running back dropped a wide open pass in the flat. Cincinnati went for it on fourth down, and although the defense got some pressure, he escaped it and threw it downfield. The receiver wasn’t open, though, and the ball was underthrown for a turnover on downs.
The break for the defense didn’t last long. On first down, Mayfield ran a playaction fake and looked downfield. He fired the ball deep to WR Donovan Peoples-Jones, who had separation and caught it for 60 yards and a touchdown to extend their lead to 21-7 with 10:10 remaining in the first half.
A few plays into Cincinnati’s drive, Burrow hit WR Ja’Marr Chase on an underneath route, and S John Johnson III came up and laid a big hit to force a fumble! CB A.J. Green scooped up the ball and returned it to the 30 yard line.
Mayfield fired completions of 15 and 6 yards to WR Anthony Schwartz and WR Jarvis Landry to set up 2nd-and-4 from the 7 yard line. A 3-yard run by Chubb made it 3rd-and-1 from the 4 yard line. Then, Cleveland ran an inside give to Landry, with the option to pitch it back to Chubb. The pitch to Chubb was way off, so he fell on top of it for a loss. K Chase McLaughlin came on to kick a 28-yard field goal to extend the Browns’ lead to 24-7 with 4:10 remaining in the half.
Cleveland’s defense appeared to force another interception on the Bengals’ next drive, but a flag by the officials ruled that Hill bumped the defender a bit too early. After that, a 21-yard run by Mixon and 5-yard completion to Chase took the Bengals to midfield heading into the two-minute warning. It looked like Cleveland was going to get into a third-down situation, but then after a hit by DE Jadeveon Clowney, a scrum ensued and the result was an unnecessary roughness penalty called on DT Jordan Elliott.
A 1-yard sack by DE Myles Garrett/DT Sheldon Day and then an incompletion in the end zone after tight coverage by Ward set up a 3rd-and-11 from the 17 yard line with 0:24 to go. The Browns called a timeout to get their gameplan ready, and out of the timeout, Burrow dumped it off to the running back. The play only got to the 9 yard line, setting up 4th-and-3. The Bengals brought out K Evan McPherson for a 27-yard field goal, which he connected to make it 24-10 at the half.
The Browns got past midfield on their opening drive, thanks to a 22-yard catch-and-run by Demetric Felton. On their next third try attempt, 3rd-and-2, Mayfield was back to throw and got sacked for the first time, also leading to the game’s first punt by either team. P Jamie Gillan’s punt was fair caught at the 13 yard line.
The defense then responded by forcing the Bengals’ first punt of the game. It was set up by a full sack from Garrett, and then on third down, Hill shedded his block on an underneath pass to Chase that seemed to have some promise. After the punt, Cleveland took over at their own 30 yard line. The next drive began with an incomplete screen pass. Then, the Browns went empty, forcing Cincinnati to call a timeout. Out of the timeout, Cleveland had a different formation, and it saw Chubb take it to the house for 70 yards!
The touchdown gave the Browns a 31-10 lead with 8:00 remaining in the third quarter. The defense looked fired up on their next drive, generating pressure and getting into a 3rd-and-4. Burrow looked for Chase on the quick hitter, but Ward tipped it and Johnson picked it, returning it to the 8 yard line!
Mayfield’s first down pass was incomplete, and on second down, the carry went to RB D’Ernest Johnson, who plunged to the 1 yard line. On 3rd-and-goal from the 1, though, Johnson false started. On 3rd-and-goal from the 6, Mayfield threw the ball away, allowing McLaughlin to come on and settle for a 24-yard field goal to extend the Browns’ lead to 34-10 with 5:14 remaining in the third quarter.
The defense forced another three-and-out, as the Bengals muffed the snap on first down, were gang tackled on second down, and then Hill darted in to sack Burrow outside the pocket on third down. Cleveland’s offense didn’t fare any better, going three-and-out themselves and punting right back to the Bengals.
Burrow started throwing on every page, completing passes despite pressure in his face. He was also assisted by a very late roughing the passer penalty on Day, which was called after the Bengals were already huddled for their next play. Burrow got the Bengals to the 12 yard line heading into the final quarter of play, down 24 points.
A couple of plays later, Mixon punched it in from the 2 yard line to make it a 34-16 game. Cincinnati went for two, handing it off to Mixon. The defense was all over that play, though, stuffing it well in the backfield to keep it a three-possession (18 point) game.
Cleveland moved the ball on their next drive with some tough runs by Chubb. On 3rd-and-4 from the Bengals’ 27 yard line, Mayfield didn’t like what he saw and eventually threw the ball away. McLaughlin came on to try a 45-yard field goal, and he missed it wide left — his first non-blocked miss of the season, to keep it a 34-16 game with 9:04 remaining in the game.
Burrow went for Chase deep on first down, and he beat Newsome, but Chase couldn’t hang on to it. That proved to be the difference in the drive, as Hill got his third sack of the game. Burrow’s fourth down heave to Higgins was broken up, resulting in a turnover on downs.
After two run plays that went no where, Mayfield dropped a perfect 26 yard pass in to Peoples-Jones, down to the 3 yard line. A holding penalty on the first down run pushed them back to the 13 yard line. Cleveland ran it twice with Johnson, but both plays were blown up for losses. On 3rd-and-goal from the 18 yard line, Mayfield zipped the ball over the middle to Njoku, who caught it for a touchdown and put the Browns up 41-16! That was the cherry on top of the big Browns win.
- QB Baker Mayfield: 14-of-21 for 218 yards, 2 TD.
- RB Nick Chubb: 14 carries, 137 yards, 2 TD. 2 catches, 26 yards (2 targets).
- WR Donovan Peoples-Jones: 2 catches, 86 yards, 1 TD (3 targets).
- DE Myles Garrett: 1.5 sacks.
- CB Troy Hill: 3 sacks.
- CB Denzel Ward: 2 tackles, 1 INT (touchdown).
- S John Johnson III: 3 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 1 INT.