The Browns (2-2) defeated the Cincinnati Bengals (2-2) 17-6 in an AFC North showdown at FirstEnergy Stadium. Below is our game day blog.
End game: Browns 17, Bengals 6
The Browns took a commanding 17-6 lead with under five minutes remaining in the game on a Hoyer 1-yard touchdown pass to Chris Ogbonnaya. That drive was highlighted by a high-arching pass to Jordan for 31 yards and the final touchdown was set up by a 9-yard run by Willis McGahee from the 10-yard line. The Browns then sealed the game with an interception by Buster Skrine, who came down with a pass intended for Tyler Eifert and defended by D’Qwell Jackson. Skrine later made another fine play on fourth-and-4 to break Dalton’s pass and turn the ball over again. Hoyer finished the game 25-of-38 passing for 269 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Jordan had 91 yards and a touchdown on 10 catches. Josh Gordon caught four passes for 71 yards. Willis McGahee ran for 46 yards on 15 carries.
End 3Q: Browns 10, Bengals 6
Cornerback Chris Owens came around the edge and sacked Andy Dalton, and in the process forced and recovered a fumble to give the Browns the ball at the Bengals’ 47-yard line. The Browns couldn’t do anything with the great field position, though. On the second drive of the quarter, the Browns faltered at the Bengals’ 20-yard line and Billy Cundiff, who missed two field goals earlier and then slipped while warming up for the third kick, nailed a 51-yarder to put the Browns up 10-3. The Bengals then put together a 10-play, 62-yard drive capped by Nugent’s 43-yard field goal to make it 10-6.
End 2Q: Browns 7, Bengals 3
The Bengals put together two quality drives but only came away with three points. Early in the second quarter Mike Nugent brought the score to 7-3 with a 25-yard field goal. Later, facing a fouth-and-1 at the Browns’ 7-yard line, defensive end Desmond Bryant stuffed BenJarvus Green-Ellis behind the line of scrimmage to force a turnover on downs. Barkevious Mingo also blew up a blocker on that play. In between those two drives, Browns kicker Billy Cundiff missed a 37-yard field goal wide left. Josh Gordon also made a terrific play on that drive in which he reached back over the head of Bengals cornerback Adam Jones and made the catch for a 33-yard gain. As the second quarter wond down, Hoyer completed four passes to Cameron to give Cundiff a chance, who missed a 49-yard field goal wide right as time expired. He’s 0-2 kicking field goals today.
End 1Q: Browns 7, Bengals 0
The Browns took the lead late in the first quarter when Brian Hoyer hit Jordan Cameron near the inside pylon for a 2-yard touchdown pass. Cameron had Bengals safety Taylor Mays draped over him but still made the catch. That capped a 12-play, 95-yard drive in which Hoyer was 6-of-6 passing for 74 yards. Just before the quarter ended, Barkevious Mingo, making his first career NFL start, sacked Andy Dalton and then took down Giovani Bernard for a 2-yard loss on back-to-back plays.
Links to stories from this morning: 1. Former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar charged with DUI, speeding this morning. 2. Browns planning to release RB Montario Hardesty from IR, NFL Network reports.
Inactives: Browns — Quarterback Brandon Weeden (sprained right thumb), outside linebacker Quentin Groves (high-ankle sprain), offensive lineman Martin Wallace, right guard Shawn Lauvao (high-ankle sprain), tight end Keavon Milton, defensive end Billy Winn (strained quadriceps) and outside linebacker Jabaal Sheard (left knee sprain). Notes: Rookie outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo will make his first career NFL Start in place of Sheard, whose streak of 35 consecutive starts will be snapped today. In three games in a reserve role, Mingo has tallied two sacks. Lauvao is inactive despite practicing all week and being listed as questionable entering today with a high ankle sprain. Billy Cundiff, who was also listed as questionable (strained right quadriceps), will play although he didn't kick in practice until Friday. Bengals — Free safety Reggie Nelson (hamstring), cornerback Leon Hall (hamstring), cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (hamstring), running back Rex Burkhead, guard Mike Pollak (knee), guard Tanner Hawkinson and defensive end Margus Hunt.
Lineup changes: Browns — Oniel Cousins will start at right guard for Lauvao. And rookie Barkevious Mingo will start for Sheard. Bengals — Adam Jones will start at cornerback for Hall and Taylor Mays will start at free safety in place of Nelson.
Ryan Lewis’ top storylines: 1. Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer, a North Olmsted native and St. Ignatius High School graduate, is making his third career start. Last week against Vikings, Hoyer was 30-of-54 for 321 yards and threw three touchdowns and three interceptions. He faces a much tougher test Sunday against a stingy Bengals defense. With 300 yards passing, Hoyer would become the first Browns quarterback since Brain Sipe in 1980 with back-to-back 300-yard games. 2. Running back Willis McGahee ran for only 9 yards on eight carries last week but could see a bigger role now that he has a week of practice under his belt. It’s unclear how much of the load he’ll be able to carry. Chris Ogbonnaya and Bobby Rainey could split carries with McGahee. 3. Rookie outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo could get his first career NFL start Sunday, as starting linebacker Jabaal Sheard is nursing a left knee that he sprained while recovering a fumble against the Vikings. Sheard did not participate in practice Thursday. Mingo already has two sacks and six tackles this season in limited action. 4. Sunday brings the return of James Harrison to Cleveland, the former Steelers linebacker who in the past knocked former Browns Joshua Cribbs, Mohamed Massaquoi and Colt McCoy unconscious. Harrison signed with the Bengals this offseason but has only one tackle through three games. Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer said last week: “He’ll be an impact.” 5. The Browns have done well against the run this season, slowing down the likes of Ray Rice of the Ravens and Adrian Peterson of the Vikings. The Browns face a two-pronged rushing attack this week in BenJarvus Green-Ellis and rookie Giovani Bernard. Bernard is an emerging weapon for the Bengals who has scored three touchdowns in two games and could see his role expanded.
Links to preview stories via Ohio.com: 1. Browns rookie Barkevious Mingo to battle his role model: Bengals Pro Bowler Andrew Whitworth. 2. Browns vs. Bengals key matchup: Cornerback Joe Haden vs. wide receiver A.J. Green. 3. Five numbers to know for Sunday. 4. How they rank on offense and defense. 5. Quote of the week. 6. Predictions from Nate Ulrich, Marla Ridenour and Ryan Lewis. 7. Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden unsure of job status as he takes step on comeback trail. 8. Browns notebook: Rookie outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo expected to make first NFL start Sunday. 9. Browns’ Willis McGahee expects ‘dramatic improvement’ in rushing attack Sunday. 10. Browns notebook: Guard Shawn Lauvao eager to move past ankle injury, driving mishap.