Cincinnati Bengals: Top 5 Season Openers

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Nov 5, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; The Cleveland Browns huddle against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals won 31-10. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 5, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; The Cleveland Browns huddle against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals won 31-10. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /

4.) 2011: Bengals 27, Browns 17

Cincinnati had just finished 2010 with their second double-digit loss season in three years and serious changes were made in the offseason leading up to 2011.

Quarterback Carson Palmer demanded a trade or he would retire, so Cincinnati dealt him to Oakland for a first-round draft pick. The contracts of Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens expired and they were not brought back to the Queen City. Meanwhile, offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski, who had been with the team since 2001, was let go, too.

Via the draft, head coach Marvin Lewis, who was resigned for two years in January 2011, brought in quarterback Andy Dalton and wide receiver A.J. Green and the new era began for the Bengals along with Jay Gruden as the new offensive coordinator.

Without the benefit of an offseason due to a lockout caused by a labor dispute between owners and players, the Bengals traveled to Cleveland for the 2011 season opener. Dalton tossed his first career touchdown to Jermaine Gresham in the first quarter as the Bengals opened up a 13-0 lead. However, a hand injury sidelined Dalton for the second half.

Backup signal caller Bruce Gradkowski’s first four drives resulted in punts while Cleveland scored 17 unanswered points to take a four-point lead in the fourth quarter.

With 4:31 left in the game, an unprepared Browns’ defense was late breaking the huddle, allowing Green to haul in a 41-yard uncontested touchdown from Gradkowski to give the Bengals the lead.

That touchdown remains the last one thrown by Gradkowski, who has spent the last three seasons as Ben Roethlisberger’s backup in Pittsburgh.

After a turnover on downs two minutes later by the Browns, Cedric Benson’s 39-yard touchdown scamper sealed a 1-0 start for the Bengals.

Next: Birds and Broncos

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