The Cleveland Browns defeat their crosstown rival by the score of 23-3 to improve their record to 6-3. With the Browns three games above .500, they now share the best record in the AFC North with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Browns relied on a strong running game and stout run defense to lead them to victory. The Browns linebackers were exceptional in coverage and also did a great job with their run fits.
In the first quarter, linebacker Craig Robertson picked off Andy Dalton’s pass intended for Jermaine Gresham. Ben Tate would capitalize on the turnover by scoring a four-yard touchdown in which the Browns utilized combo blocking to generate a surge up front. The Browns held the Bengals to a relatively short drive before they received the football in the second quarter. Then went on an eight-play 4:01 drive before Isaiah Crowell scored a two-yard touchdown to give the Browns the lead by the score 14-3.
The Browns would endure a couple of three-and-outs before adding a 32-yard field goal to give them a 17-3 lead over the Bengals going into halftime. In the third quarter, the Browns’ defense continued to hold the Bengals to relatively short drives. With 4:54 left in the third quarter, Terrance West ran up the middle for a one-yard touchdown, which would be the final score of the game.
With the Browns attempting just one pass in the fourth quarter, and Andy Dalton unable to find his rhythm as a passer, neither team was able to put points on the board in the fourth quarter. The Browns held on for the win as the offense was extremely efficient, and the defense displayed aggression they haven’t shown since the preseason.
Brian Hoyer didn’t set the world on fire as he threw for just 198 yards, but he was accurate, and highly effective when called upon to get the ball vertically down the field. The Browns’ offensive line was able to generate movement up front in the run game, which allowed Terrance West to crease the Bengals defensive front for 94 yards on 26 carries. The Browns also stretched the field horizontally on screens to Taylor Gabriel, which eventually opened up the seam for Gary Barnidge and Travis Benjamin.
The defense got a boost from Desmond Bryant who had two sacks on the afternoon, and the return of Phil Taylor allowed the linebackers to run freely, and flow to the football. There has been plenty of talk about the Browns needing to bolster their defensive line next offseason, but as long as they remain healthy, they have potential to be one of the more talented groups in the NFL. The Browns held the Bengals’ leading rusher Jeremy Hill to just 55 yards on 12 carries.
Joe Haden once again performed admirably against his longtime rival A.J. Green. Haden kept Green in check most of the afternoon as Green ended his evening with 23 yards on three receptions. Buster Skrine had an outstanding game as he picked off Dalton twice and made three tackles.
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