Final score: Browns 34, Bengals 24 (game story; thumbs up/thumbs down; notebook; Stephanie Storm's story about Montario Hardesty making the most of Trent Richardson's injury; Marla Ridenour's column)
End 4Q: Browns 34, Bengals 24 -- In the first win of the season, the Browns took the lead on the first play of the fourth quarter. Montario Hardesty, filling in for Richardson (flank), leaped over the pile on second and goal from the 1-yard line to put the Browns up 20-14. Bengals kicker Mike Nugent kicked a 44-yard field goal to make it 20-17. Later, on third and one, Weeden found Jordan Cameron on third and one at the 26-yard line for 23 yards. Weeden then hit Ben Watson in the end zone on a play-action pass. Cornerback Sheldon Brown put the Browns up 34-17 left with a 19-yard interception returned for a touchdown. A.J. Green later beat Haden on a 57-yard touchdown with 2:29 remaining. Down 34-24, the Bengals were driving inside the Browns’ 20-yard line when Emmanuel Stephens sacked Dalton and forced a fumble that Billy Winn picked up and ran back 35 yards.
End 3Q: Bengals 14, Browns 13 – The Browns scored six points in the midst of a 7-drive drought without a first down. Josh Cribbs returned a punt 60 yards and Joe Haden intercepted a pass to set up two Phil Dawson field goals. As time expired for the quarter, the Browns have second and goal at the 1-yard line.
End 2Q: Bengals 14, Browns 7 – The Browns tied the score 7-7 with a 71-yard touchdown pass from Weeden to Josh Gordon, who brought in the deep ball with one hand, less than 10 seconds into the quarter. Cincinnati then re-took the lead late in the half when Andy Dalton found A.J. Green in the back of the end zone from four yards out. Browns guard Josh Pinkston is “not feeling well” according to a pressbox announcement. Trent Richardson has 31 yards on 11 carries and 17 yards on two catches. Weeden finished the half 9-14 for 139 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
End 1Q: Bengals 7, Browns 0 - The Browns seemed to be moving the ball well on their first drive. Brandon Weeden hit rookie Josh Cooper for a 28-yard pass on third and 7 and the Browns quickly drove into Bengals territory. Then things went downhill. Weeden had a pass intercepted by end Michael Johnson after it was tipped at the line by tackle Geno Atkins. Three plays later, Andy Dalton found Craig Robertson lined up on tight end Jermaine Gresham and exploited the mismatch. Gresham caught the pass, stiff-armed Robertson and broke away to the end zone for a 55-yard touchdown. Trent Richardson was being attended to on the sidelines, re-entered the game and sat out the final few plays of the quarter. Guard Jason Pinkston left the game on that first drive and has been replaced by John Greco.
Inactives: Browns – Defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin (calf), linebacker Scott Fujita (shoulder/neck), wide receivers Mohamed Massaquoi (hamstring) and Travis Benjamin (hamstring), cornerback Dimitri Patterson (ankle), safety Tashaun Gipson (knee) and offensive tackle Ryan Miller. Bengals -- wide receivers Mohamed Sanu and Ryan Whalen, cornerbacks Jason Allen (quad) and Dre Kirkpatrick (knee), safety George Iloka, defensive tackle Brandon Thompson and tight end Richard Quinn.
Lineup changes: Browns – Rookie John Hughes will make his first career start in place of Rubin, whose streak of 41 consecutive starts will end today. Rookie James-Michael Johnson will start in place of Fujita at strongside linebacker. Johnson missed the first four games of the season with a ribs/oblique injury and has yet to play defense this season. Rookie wide receiver Josh Gordon will start in place of Massaquoi for the second consecutive game. With Patterson out, second-year cornerback Buster Skrine is expected to cover the opposing slot receiver. Bengals – Robert Geathers will start in place of Carlos Dunlap at left defensive end. Terence Newman will start for Nate Clements at cornerback. Clements will start for Taylor Mays at strong safety.
Top storylines by Stephanie Storm -- 1. The Browns, the only team without a win this season, are looking to avoid setting a franchise mark for consecutive losses. A loss to the Bengals would be the Browns’ 12th in a row, surpassing the 1974 team that went winless in its last two games, then started the 1975 season 0-9. The win that broke the losing streak in the 1970s came against the Bengals. 2. With so much of the early-season talk centered on a change in team ownership, the game today is in all likelihood the final one the Browns will play under 10-year owner Randy Lerner. Come Tuesday, Tennessee businessman Jimmy Haslam III is expected to be formally approved as the new owner. 3. Browns cornerback Joe Haden joins the team in time for the rematch with the Bengals after serving a four-game suspension for testing positive for the banned stimulant Adderall. To say the Browns secondary struggled without their top cover man is an understatement. During his absence, opposing quarterbacks completed 67 percent of their passes for 1,125 yards and 10 touchdowns, and the defense surrendered an average of 30.5 points in the four losses. 4. Mounting injuries on the defense could leave the Browns without key players. Cornerback Dimitri Patterson (sprained ankle) is out. Buster Skrine will cover the slot receiver in place of Patterson. Tackle Ahtyba Rubin (calf) is questionable. Rookie John Hughes will start if Rubin can’t play. Starting strong-side linebacker Scott Fujita (shoulder/neck) is questionable. If Fujita can’t play, rookie James-Michael Johnson is likely to fill in. 5. Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden and running back Trent Richardson had the best games of their short career in the 34-27 loss to the host Bengals in Week 2 and are looking to build off that positive start. Weeden set a Browns rookie record with his 322 passing yards, and Richardson recorded his first 100-yard rushing performance with 109 yards and two touchdowns. 6. Undrafted rookie wide receiver Josh Cooper and Weeden will try to re-establish the connection they had at Oklahoma State. Cooper was elevated from the Browns’ practice squad to their active roster Friday to help supplement their ailing receiving corps.
Preview stories via Ohio.com: 1. Zest for life should serve new owner Jimmy Haslam well with Browns. 2. Cornerback Joe Haden hopes to limit Bengals star A.J. Green, provide spark Browns need to snap 11-game losing streak. 3. Browns vs. Bengals matchup of the week: Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton. 4. Keys to the game. 5. Quote of the week. 6. Predictions. 7. Numbers to watch. 8. Injury report.