The Cincinnati Bengals took a road trip to Cleveland for the Battle of Ohio Part 2. The Bengals had a chance to wrap up a playoff berth early and stated their case, with a 37-3 smashing of the Browns. Using a balanced attack, the Bengals swept the season series with Cleveland and move to 10-2 for the year.
Taking the ball at their 20-yard line, the Bengals started what looked to be a productive drive. The running game seemed to be the emphasis of the day for Cincinnati. Both Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard touched the ball during the drive for good gains. But the Bengals stalled when Andy Dalton missed Mohamed Sanu on a rollout.
The Browns got a chance to showcase Austin Davis under center. Davis looked good on a couple of plays and was then introduced to the Bengals’ defense. They hurried and rushed him into bad decisions that eventually led to a Cleveland punt.
After taking over at their 16, the Bengals immediately went to work on the Browns’ secondary. Dalton dropped back and spotted A.J. Green streaking down the left sideline. Green had burned his man and had him by a couple of steps. Dalton put up a perfect spiral that Green snagged and took all the way to the Cleveland 27-yard line.
With his 102-yard showcase during the first half, Bengals’ receiver A.J. Green surpassed 1,000 receiving yards for the season, according to ESPN. It’s the fifth straight season that he has had that many yards.
The Browns received the kickoff and once more looked good to start their drive. Cincinnati’s defense stiffened after two big catches by Gary Barnidge. Davis tried to find his favorite target again and the pass seemed to get another big gain. But the officials slapped Barnidge with a penalty for offensive pass interference. That set up third-and-19 at the Bengals’ 44-yard line. The Browns went for it on fourth-and-11, but Davis was sacked.
It took the Bengals only three plays to get another touchdown. Dalton went deep to Green for 22-yards on the first play from the Cincinnati 46-yard line. Bernard slashed through the Browns defense for nine yards. Green toasted his defender again and Dalton found him for a 23-yard scoring catch. Bengals extended their lead to 14-0.
The Browns turned the ball over on downs and the Bengals once again were looking to score. Cincinnati was able to move the ball against the Cleveland defense, but Andy Dalton was sacked to bring up a fourth down. The six play, 34-yard drive ended with a 44-yard Mike Nugent field goal.
Just as Austin Davis seemed to be getting his act together, the Bengals’ defense pressured him into an interception. Reggie Nelson grabbed the lame-duck pass and returned it 31 yards.
Before halftime, the Browns were able to get the goose egg off the scoreboard. Austin Davis led Cleveland on a nice two-minute drill and was able to get the Browns on the board with a field goal. That was the only score the Browns would get.
Jeremy Hill continued his strong return to form, with 98 yards on 22 carries and a touchdown. The Bengals’ running game is starting to click at the right time. The balance means less pressure for Dalton and better opportunities for play-action fakes.
For the second consecutive game, the Bengals’ defense was able to put away a team with a dominant performance. The Bengals looked sound in every aspect of the game and appear to be ready for a deep playoff run.
[Feature Photo by Ron Schwane/Associated Press]