The Cleveland Browns killed Cincinnati in their first matchup this year 32-13. Every aspect of Cleveland’s game was spot on. The offense moved the ball and put up points. The defense held the Bengals to minimal yardage on the ground, and the special teams were.....special.
This time around, Cincy is showing that they are one of the league’s best teams. They beat Kansas City last week and seem to have the Chiefs’ number. Tied with Baltimore for the division lead, the Bengals want to return to the Super Bowl and this time win it.
For the Browns, at 5-7-0, their hopes of a playoff seed are far-fetched, but not impossible. They have to win out, however. The roster is on a two-game winning streak and will need to win all of their remaining games, and then will need certain games to go their way. Cincinnati came in with a four-game winning streak.
In the end, Cleveland could not move the ball on offense and lost 23-10.
So who played well for the Browns? Who didn’t?
DE Jadeveon Clowney - Was a beast all game. On a third-and-three early in the game, Clowney forced QB Joe Burrow out of the pocket and nailed him for minimal gain. Later in that first quarter, he beat RT La’el Collins and had his sights on the sack when Burrow had to toss the ball into the turf on a blown-up screen play. Had the game’s first sack midway into the second stanza only to have it negated by a defensive holding call. Just before half had a pass knockdown that would all probability have been a decent gain. Just missed on two sacks in the second half and was seemingly everywhere.
DE Myles Garrett - Had glimpses in the first half but was a force in the second half. 1.5 sacks, three QB hits, several pressures, six tackles plus three tackles for loss. With 10:29 left in the third quarter, DT Tavin Bryan forced Burrow to step sideways and right into Garrett. Knocked down a pass on a key third-and-13.
WR Donovan Peoples-Jones - Quiet first half and then erupted after the break. He was open on the fourth down play early in the game when QB Jacoby Brissett overthrew him. Made a good catch on a second-and-23 in the second quarter for 10 yards which made the third down play more manageable. His 18 yard grab just before the half set the offense up for either a long field goal or a Hail Mary. The 21 yard pass completion in the third quarter allowed the Browns to get inside the 40 on the David Njoku touchdown drive.
Untimely penalties - The Bengals scored 13 points in the first half as a result of several penalties that kept drives alive. In the second quarter with 12:48 until the half, a third-and-15 pass fell incomplete. As Cincinnati punter Drue Chrisman got off his kick, LB Tony Fields plowed into him. The roughing the kicker penalty gave Cincy a first down. Several plays later, the Bengals scored a touchdown. Clowney had a sack with just over 11 minutes to go in the half, except Ronnie Harrison had a holding call. Several plays later, another Cincinnati touchdown. Two dumb penalties keep both drives alive and the Bengals scored 13 points. The Browns lost by how much? The offensive line had several key holding calls including two which had been converted into first downs.
RT Jack Conklin - Conklin’s holding call in the first quarter negated a decent Nick Chubb run. Then in the second quarter with the offense facing a third-and-13, Conklin could not contain DE Joseph Ossai who jumped on Deshaun Watson who had to throw the ball into the turf. Had his second holding call in the third quarter and had issues with keeping out DE Sam Hubbard who had five tackles plus a sack.
Running game - Cincinnati came into the game 18th against the run, yet all the Browns could muster in the first half was 52 yards on the ground. Chubb’s 28 yards in the first two quarters were laughable for the league’s second-leading ground gainer. The rightside of the line was horrible in the ground game today. Chubb finished with just 38 yards rushing while Watson had 33. Pathetic.
The Browns' offense was better with Jacoby Brissett than it is with Deshaun Watson.— Michael David Smith (@MichaelDavSmith) December 11, 2022
Offense - 152 first-half yards and 341 for the game, Refusing a field goal on the Browns’ first possession and instead going for it on fourth down which ended with zero points. No points were scored until 2:57 left in the half. Only two drives over the 50 in the first half. Refused another field goal which would have placed the Browns down by only seven on their final drive instead of needing two scores.
The offensive line was porous today and could have been an eight-sack game instead of the two. The first reception by a tight end was with just 2:59 left in the first half which made no sense. If the line is having issues blocking then the short passing game makes it more reasonable yet neither tight end was utilized until late in the third quarter. First touchdown pass for Watson in 707 days. Did anyone catch that this offense had to go for it on six fourth down plays because they could not make short third downs instead? When your punter kicks more times than your unit crosses midfield, there is an issue. This offensive line has graded out as the second-worst in the league since Week 9. Simply no explosiveness on this offense.
DC Joe Woods - The Bengals have three great receivers, yet two were injured and did not play. So this would allow the defense to double one of the league’s best receivers in Ja’Marr Chase, correct? Wrong. Each defender was off Chase by 10-12 yards on most passing downs. Why such a cushion? Because they did not want to be beaten deep by the speedster. With the majority of Cincinnati’s receiving corps out, where was the safety over the top? Burrow simply dinked and dunked to Chase with seven, nine, and 11-yard gains all game long. Chase did not beat them deep, he lulled them to sleep instead to the tune of 15 targets, 10 catches, and 119 yards plus the short touchdown. No other Cincy receiver had more than two catches, so what did Woods do to stop Chase? Place a safety on that side which would allow the cornerback to line up closer and take away the shorter passes? Or just let him nickel and dime all day instead? Anyone?
C Hjalte Frodholt - The new center did not do well against NT D.J. Reeder who had a ton of penetration for most of the game. Reeder’s five tackles did not justify his presence in the backfield but often closed the pocket. With 8:45 left in the game, it was Reeder who stuffed Chubb on 3/1 which forced the offense to go for it on a fourth-and-one instead. It is understood that Frodholdt is the offense’s fourth center this year and not his natural position. Had a snap infraction in the third quarter which pushed back a short third down into a third-and-long instead.
QB Deshaun Watson - The offense spit and sputtered once again with Watson at the helm only this time they weren’t playing the league’s worst team. His scrambling abilities were on display today but his timing plus seeing open receivers is still lagging. Often he would throw the ball late as evidenced by the interception by S Jessie Bates who had left his man on the other side of the field and was still able to make the pick. Watson did get out of a few jambs with his legs and had 33 yards on the ground. He never used his tight ends until late in the game.
My new favorite sports is Deshaun Watson being awful.— Jeff Pearlman (@jeffpearlman) December 11, 2022
With just over three minutes left in the game, Watson threw down and outside to Amari Cooper on the fourth-and-four which would have been far enough for the first. Respectable 276 yards on 26 completions. Has anyone realized that since Watson has taken over, this once #5 offense has scored just 16 points in two games? Who are they going to beat averaging eight points a game?
Third down conversions - Four for 14. No winning team has this bad of a conversion rate on third down. Three of 12 last week. See a trend?
Milk Bones – When you put a puzzle together in just one day whereas the box says 5-7 years
S Grant Delpit - Made several good tackles and finished the game with four. With 7:29 in the third quarter, he bit on the flea flicker. CB M.J. Emerson passed off WR Trenton Irwin to the deep zone but the problem was Delpit left center field to help on the alleged run play. The end result was a 45-yard touchdown as Irwin was wide-ass open.
DT Perrion Winfrey - Part of the reason the Bengals had an issue running the ball, especially in the first half, was that Winfrey is just not a man who can be pushed aside. Finished with three tackles, but was in the backfield frequently and missed out on two sacks. Had a half-sack in the second quarter.
LB Deion Jones - Had several interior tackles which kept Cincinnati at bay with trying to run up the middle. Made the interception early in the fourth quarter. With 2:49 left in the first quarter, he slammed RB Joe Mixon to the turf after a six-yard gain needing eight yards on the third down play.
TE David Njoku - Was the invisible man in the first half. With 3:24 left in the third quarter, he made a key first down on the fourth down play. Was all alone on the touchdown grab but made an impressive dive to get inside the pylon for the score. Made several good downfield blocks on two Chubb runs. With just over seven minutes left to play, he kept the drive going with a seven-yard catch needing six for the first down. Finished with seven catches for 59 yards and left Browns’ fans with the question as to why he was omitted from the game plan in the first half since he was so productive in the final two quarters.
What was wrong with the Browns’ offense against the Bengals?
This poll is closed
Receivers could not get open
Running game grinded to a halt