The Bengals put together a dominating performance in Week 4. Hungry for its first win, Cincinnati dismantled the Browns in all three phases of a 31-7 thrashing at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Bengals fans, you can breathe.
Everything clicked for Cincinnati in its first win of the season. Andy Dalton engineered an offense to 31 points over a five-drive span. The defense harassed quarterback DeShone Kizer, collecting its first red zone takeaway of the season and holding the rookie to a 5.8 total QBR and a sub-50 completion percentage over a 58-minute shutout.
The overall team win avoided a 0-4 record that would’ve put an early nail in the 2017 Bengals’ coffin. Only one team – the 1992 Chargers – has ever made the playoffs after such a start.
The 31-7 drubbing had historical elements, too.
The Bengals have now won six straight over their division-rival, setting a franchise-best mark. They’ve outscored the Browns by 136 points in that span.
Previously, Cincinnati beat Cleveland in five straight from 2004-06 with Carson Palmer at the helm.
In Good Company
Dalton, with his first 4-touchdown pass performance since December 2013, now has quarterbacked the club’s best stretch against the Browns. He also clipped Palmer for third-most wins by a Bengal in the rivalry. The Red Rifle’s 10th victory attached him with Ken Anderson (13) and Boomer Esiason (11) as the only signal-callers in team antiquity with double-digit wins against the Browns.
Marvin Lewis, meanwhile, improved on two impressive records. In his 15th season, Lewis is now 21-8 against the Browns and 17-11 against rookie quarterbacks.
Cincinnati now aims for its seventh consecutive win in the rivalry when the two clubs meet at Paul Brown Stadium on November 26th. A Week12 victory would mean a tie with Bill Belichick’s early-90’s Cleveland club for the longest winning streak in the Battle of Ohio’s 48-year history.
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Andy Dalton: It’s hard to deny the seventh-year quarterback of an accolade after his second-highest career passer rating (146.0). Dalton fell just .8 shy of his best game in that category. That was a 146.8 rating in the Bengals’ 37-3 win in Cleveland two years ago, the last game of his MVP-caliber 2015 campaign that ended with a broken thumb seven days later.
Dalton completed 16 consecutive passes at one point against the Browns, the first Bengal QB to string together that many connections in a row since Ken Anderson hit 20 straight against the Jets in a playoff loss in 1983.
Tyler Kroft: There may be a new ‘Touchdown Tyler’ in Cincinnati and it’s not Eifert. The 2015 Pro-Bowler missed his second consecutive game on Sunday with a knee injury, and third-year backup Tyler Kroft made the most of it.
Of Kroft’s team-high six catches, four went for first downs. Twice he converted third downs and the other two were touchdowns.
With Eifert’s injury-filled baggage, Kroft could be seeing more red-zone looks in the near future. But he was effective outside the 20s, too.
His 22-yard reception moved the chains on third-and-15 in the second quarter (a drive culminated by his first score). One possession later, he hauled in back-to-back 11-yarders that setup Giovani Bernard’s 61-yard, walk-in touchdown catch with 47 seconds left in the first half.