The Cleveland Browns (0-11) put up a fight but it just wasn’t enough to stop the Cincinnati Bengals (5-6) who swept the Battle of Ohio with a 30-16 victory on Sunday afternoon.
DeShone Kizer took a step forward once again as a rookie with a good performance against a tough Cincinnati defense. He went 18 of 31 for 268 yards in the passing game and also added 39 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Kizer took 3 sacks mainly just by walking into them when trying to move around the pocket.
Kizer exited the game for a series in the second quarter to be checked for a concussion but that’s all he missed during the game.
The running game was strong for Cleveland and helped the offense move up and down the field. Isaiah Crowell had 16 carries for 95 yards in his best performance of the season. Duke Johnson had 10 offensive touches (6 carries, 4 catches) for 67 total yards from scrimmage (35 rushing, 32 receiving).
Corey Coleman led the team in receiving for the second straight week since returning from injury with 3 catches for 64 yards. He dropped a 29 yard touchdown in the end zone during the third quarter. Help is on the way for him in the wide receiver room as Josh Gordon will be activated to make his long-awaited return next week against the Chargers.
Defensively, the team fought but have given up 30 points once again for the sixth time this season. It was also the second straight week they’ve given up a 100 yard rusher as Bengals rookie back Joe Mixon carved up the defense with 114 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries. He also had 51 yards receiving on three catches.
Myles Garrett collected his fifth sack of the season and Joe Schobert led the way with 13 tackles. Cleveland snapped a NFL leading 12 game streak of forcing at least one turnover.
That rushing touchdown by Mixon came on a controversial penalty to Browns safety Jabrill Peppers. Peppers drilled Bengals receiver Josh Malone to break up a deep pass from Andy Dalton, it looked like he led with his shoulder but Peppers’ helmet hit Malone’s facemask in the lower jaw area, thus getting the penalty.
Dalton completed 18 of 28 attempts for 214 yards and two touchdowns. In both matchups against Cleveland this season, Dalton completed 74% of his passes for 500 yards, six touchdowns and zero interceptions. His leading receiver was AJ Green who had 5 catches for 66 yards while Brandon LaFell had 3 catches for 33 yards.
With the loss, head coach Hue Jackson tied former Buccaneers coach John McKay with the worst start by a coach with an NFL team at 1-26. McKay started 0-26 with the 1976-77 Tampa Bay Buccaneers but went on to win the next two games to get to 2-26.
Jackson will have an opportunity to match McKay’s mark with a win next week against the 5-6 Los Angeles Chargers as the Browns make the trip across the country. The Chargers dominated the Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day and are starting to hit their stride as they fight for a Wild Card spot.