The Bengals held off division-rival Cleveland, 30-16, at Paul Brown Stadium.
Andy Dalton threw a pair of touchdowns and Joe Mixon ran for 114 yards as the Cincinnati Bengals’ postseason hopes remained afloat with a 30-16 win over the Cleveland Browns. The rookie running back’s fourth rushing touchdown of the season–with 2:57 left–sealed Cincinnati’s fifth win in its last eight games.
After Dalton’s first touchdown pass–an eight-yard hookup with Tyler Boyd in the first quarter–the Bengals stalled in Cleveland territory. Cincinnati settled for three second-quarter field goals by Randy Bullock, while the Browns managed a pair of red zone three-pointers by rookie Zane Gonzalez and the Bengals took a 10-point lead into the half.
For three straight weeks, the Bengals lost time of possession. On Sunday, Cincinnati was able to control the tempo. The Bengals won the possession battle by a minute and four seconds and used its second-round pick to do it.
Mixon ran for 60 yards and the game-sealing touchdown on 12 carries in the second half. The rookie did it against a Cleveland defense allowing an NFL-best 3.1 yard per carry coming in.
Fellow rookie DeShone Kizer played just his second turnover-free game of the season. The second-rounder threw for a career-high 268 yards without an interception. Kizer’s three-yard touchdown run with 6:57 left in the game made it 23-16.
But Cincinnati responded with a seven-play, 75-yard scoring march culminated with Mixon’s 11-yard touchdown scamper. The drive was extended when Browns’ safety Jabrill Peppers was (questionable) called for unnecessary roughness for a hit on receiver Josh Malone on an incompletion that would’ve halted the possession.
Three plays later, Mixon’s TD cemented Cincinnati’s spot in the “In the Hunt” category of the AFC’s playoff picture.
Despite a few close calls, Andy Dalton was once again safe with the football. Dalton threw for two scores, one to Boyd and one to Tyler Kroft, and has now thrown 140 passes since his last interception. The Red Rifle has now logged a 100-plus passer rating in his last three games, and six of nine contests since Bill Lazor was promoted to offensive coordinator.
Rookie Carl Lawson strengthened his DROY resume with 1.5 sacks. The fourth-rounder has seven this season.
The Bengals (5-6) are still on the outside looking in. They will watch with hopes that Houston can beat division-rival Baltimore on Monday night. Riding a four-game home winning streak, the Bengals return to Paul Brown Stadium next Monday (12/4) to host the first-place Steelers.