The Cincinnati Bengals improved their record today to 1-1 against the Cleveland Browns by a score of 34-27. Aided by a loss by the Baltimore Ravens, it’s good for a tie for first place in the AFC North. The Pittsburgh Steelers can join the tie with a win against the Jets this afternoon. It was an up and down game for the Bengals, who were able to get some things done offensively, but struggled once again defensively.
The Bengals got things going with an 81-yard touchdown on a punt return by Pacman Jones, showing that he is still dangerous with the football. A.J. Green caught a TD pass from Andy Dalton early in the second quarter to go up 14-3, and it looked like Cincinnati might break away. However, the defense broke down, and Trent Richardson rumbled 32 yards for a TD. A Mike Nugent field goal made it 17-10 at the half.
The Bengals opened the 2nd half scoring with Dalton finding Brandon Tate on a touch pass down the sideline for a 44-yard TD. Trent Richardson followed this up with a TD catch, in which he ran over several defenders. Andrew Hawkins made the play of the day to open the 4th quarter, turning a short reception into a 50-yard TD, juking several Browns defensive backs in the process. The Browns got close again with a TD pass to Greg Little, but Nugent ended the game with a FG, putting it out of reach.
The Bengals defense once again struggled mightily in pass coverage, allowing several open receivers to make easy catches. Rey Maualuga, in particular, struggled to cover the Browns tight ends. Michael Johnson was one of the few bright spots on D, getting several pressures and a sack. They forced one turnover, a fumble.
On offense, Dalton 24 of 31 for 318 yards and three TDs. He did throw one interception. He was accurate and played well, though he struggled with deep passes, missing a few open TDs. BenJarvus Green-Ellis ran for 75 yards and had another 30 receiving. Green, Tate, and Hawkins had the TD catches, and Jermaine Gresham had a huge catch to extend a late drive, by tip-toeing the sideline.
The Bengals move on to Robert Griffen III and the Washington Redskins next week. Containing the Redskins offense will continue to be the focus. Jamaal Anderson suffered a serious looking injury today, so with injuries mounting, stopping good offenses will continue to be a struggle. Most importantly, the Bengals have at least temporarily washed away the stink of last Monday’s loss to Baltimore. They’re back to 1-1 and it’s a reset on the season. The hunt for the playoffs starts again now.