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Browns-Bengals Final Score: Cleveland sweeps AFC North Champions, win 21-16

Cleveland ends their season with a record of 8-9.

Cincinnati Bengals v Cleveland Browns Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

The Cleveland Browns’ 2021-2022 season is officially over. In their Week 18 finale, they played well defensively and had a mixed bag defensively, eventually prevailing by a score of 21-16.

After both teams traded punts, Cleveland’s offense struck first on their third drive of the game. QB Case Keenum found WR Donovan Peoples-Jones for a 22-yard gain, and then later in the drive, RB Nick Chubb burst for 14 yards. From the 26 yard line, Keenum dropped back and found WR Jarvis Landry along the left sideline for a 26-yard touchdown to put the Browns up 7-0.

Cleveland continued to find success on their next drive, marching right down the field. RB D’Ernest Johnson capped things off with a 4-yard touchdown to make it a 14-0 game.

The Browns were in control, with the defense forcing punt after punt from QB Brandon Allen and the Bengals’ backups. But then, late in the second quarter, it was Cleveland’s offense who allowed Cincinnati to get on the board. Keenum tried to make too much happen and lost the ball, with S Trayvon Henderson recovering and taking it back for a touchdown.

That closed the Browns’ lead to 14-7. Cleveland was putting together a successful two-minute drive, including a third-down conversion to Landry that went for 22 yards. With time winding down and in the red zone, Keenum just missed on connecting with TE Harrison Bryant in the end zone. Two plays later, on third down, Keenum’s pass was tipped and intercepted to end the half.

Cleveland went three-and-out to begin the second half, and then Cincinnati proceeded to put together a drive that ate up 8.5 minutes of clock. The defense held them to a 36-yard field goal, cutting their lead to 14-10 now. Cleveland ran the ball effectively on their next drive, first with Johnson and then with Chubb, including a 35-yard run. On 3rd-and-goal from the 7 yard line, Keenum’s pass to Landry only got them down to the 2 yard line. Kevin Stefanski went for it, and the call was a quick slant to Peoples-Jones — but it was thrown behind him and fell incomplete for a turnover on downs.

The Browns’ defense forced a three-and-out and a quick punt, giving the offense the ball back near midfield with 13 minutes remaining in the game. They ran the ball, ran the ball, and ran the ball some more with Johnson, who went over the 100-yard mark. This time on 3rd-and-goal from the 10 yard line, Keenum threw a quick screen to Felton, who had linemen out in front for a touchdown to make it a 21-10 game with 7:14 remaining.

The Bengals drove down the field and were able to score a touchdown on 4th-and-1 from the 4 yard line with 2:26 remaining to make it a 21-16 game. They went for two and did not convert. With no timeouts remaining, the Bengals needed an onside kick to stay alive.

TE Harrison Bryant booted the onside kick, and then a scrum ensued. It took the officials awhile to uncover the pile, but eventually they ruled that CB A.J. Green had recovered for the Browns. Cleveland ran out the clock from there, only to see that with the Jaguars upsetting the Colts, now the Steelers or Ravens have a crack at making the playoffs.

Quick Hitters

  • QB Case Keenum: 17-of-24 for 176 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT, 1 fumble.
  • RB D’Ernest Johnson: 25 carries, 123 yards, 1 TD.
  • RB Nick Chubb: 9 carries, 58 yards.
  • WR Jarvis Landry: 6 catches, 75 yards, 1 TD.