Final score: Bengals 27, Browns 17
Game coverage via Ohio.com: 1. A bizarre defensive breakdown leads to another season-opening loss for the Browns. 2. Marla Ridenour column: Browns coach Pat Shurmur should have kept his thoughts about the officiating to himself. 3. Browns fans show patriotism on Sept. 11. 4. Josh Cribbs makes an impact on special teams, but falls short of returning punt for a touchdown. 5. Breakdown spoils cornerback Joe Haden's stellar performance. 6. Instant replay: The Browns must address their overall sloppiness.
End 1Q: Bengals 10, Browns 0
Terrible start. After a three and out to open the game, Browns punter Rich McGee shanked a punt to give the Bengals the ball at the Browns. After two defensive penalties, Joe Haden bailed the Browns out with two pass breakups in the end zone leading to a 24-yard field goal by Mike Nugent.
After the Browns struggled again offensively, especially with penalties (three offsides calls), the Bengals again set up on the Browns 41. This time, rookie quarterback Andy Dalton found tight end Jermaine Gresham for a two-yard touchdown pass to make the score 10-0 at the 2:22 mark of the first quarter.
Mike Nugent with a 47-yard field goal to make the score 13-0 at the 11:30 mark of the second quarter.
Josh Cribbs' kickoff return to the 43-yard line seemed to give the Browns a spark, as did the addition of Montario Hardesty. After an 11-yard reception to Massaquoi on first down, Hardesty ran twice: the first time for seven yards, second for five.
On the next play, the Bengals bit on play action to Hardesty and allowed McCoy to roll right and throw back over the middle to Ben Watson for a 34-yard touchdown pass.
After forcing the Bengals to a three and out, including a combined sack by Marvin Benard and Brian Schaefering; and another pass break up on third down by Joe Haden); McCoy rolled right and launched a ball to Massaquoi as he was getting hit by Thomas Howard. Massaquoi had gotten behind safety reggie Nelson the rest of the defense. Massaquoi had enough time to turn around and wait for the ball to get to him for a 56-yard gain.
Three plays later, McCoy threaded a pass to Evan Moore for a two-yard touchdown pass to give the Browns a 14-13 lead.
Kicker Phil Dawson stretched the Browns lead a bit further with a 20-yard FG at the 8:36 mark. It was a heavy dose of tight ends Evan Moore and Ben Watson to get there.
It got ugly fast for the Browns.
The Browns didn’t break the defensive huddle fast enough and paid for it on third and 12. Rookie A.J. Green was uncovered and streaked up the sideline for a 41-yard touchdown pass from Gradkowski to make the score 20-17 with four minutes and 28 seconds remaining on the clock.
It was Green’s first catch of the day and of his career and ruined a tremendous day for Haden, who had five big pass breaks throughout the game.
Cedric Benson put the game away with a 39-yard TD run with one minute and 49 seconds remaining to make the score 27-17.
Preview stories via Ohio.com: 1. Browns President Mike Holmgren shares a vision with coach Pat Shurmur. 2. Browns running back Peyton Hillis is adjusting to his celebrity. 3. Matchup of the week: Browns cornerback Joe Haden vs. Bengals rookie wide receiver A.J. Green. 4. Top storylines. 5. Keys to the game for the Browns. 6. Injury report for Browns vs. Bengals. 7. Numbers to watch. 8. Predictions. 9. Quote of the week. 10. Browns roster.
Top storylines -- 1. Pat Shurmur will be introduced to an AFC North rivalry in his regular-season debut as an NFL coach. Browns coaches are 4-8 when facing the Bengals for the first time. 2. The Browns have converted to Shurmur's West Coast offense, and the Bengals have adopted new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden’s version of the scheme. Whose scheme will prevail? 3. Two starting quarterbacks from Texas — the Browns' Colt McCoy and the Bengals' Andy Dalton — will duel today. McCoy led the University of Texas to victory over Dalton and Texas Christian University in their lone meeting in college. 4. The Browns will unveil defensive coordinator Dick Jauron's 4-3 scheme in its true form. Jauron didn’t show his entire hand in the preseason. 5. Seven rookies are expected to start between the two teams: defensive tackle Phil Taylor, defensive end Jabaal Sheard, fullback Owen Marecic and left guard Jason Pinkston for the Browns; Dalton, Green and right guard Clint Boling for the Bengals.
Under this year's new rules the number of active players on the roster remains at 53, but the the game day rosters are now at 46 players instead of 45, giving each team seven inactive players.
Browns: Thaddeus Lewis, QB; Carlton Mitchell (finger), WR.; Eric Hagg(knee), SS; Titus Brown(Ankle), LB: Steve Vallos, OL: Tony Pashos (foot), OL; Jordan Cameron TE.
Bengals: Kelly Jennings, CB (hamstring); Taylor Mays (knee), S; Cedric Peerman, HB; Robert Sands, S; Dontay Moch (foot), LB; Otis Hudson (Knee), G, Ryan Whalen, WR.
Browns: Oniel Cousins will replace Pashos at right tackle. Jason Pinkston will start at left guard.
Bengals: none announced.