CINCINNATI: Rookie outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo accepted responsibility Sunday for the most damaging special-teams miscue the Browns had during their second quarter from hell in a 41-20 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium.
Mingo conceded that he was supposed to block Bengals linebacker Jayson DiManche during a punt with 4:49 left in the second quarter, but he barely touched him, if at all, while merely passing him off to running back Chris Ogbonnaya. DiManche bolted between Mingo and Ogbonnaya and blocked Spencer Lanning’s punt, allowing safety Tony Dye to recover the ball and return it 24 yards for a touchdown with 4:35 left in the first half.
The AFC North-leading Bengals (7-4) took a 21-13 lead and went on to tally a franchise-record 31 points in the second quarter. The Browns (4-6) could never fully bounce back after squandering a 13-0 lead they established in the opening quarter.
“That’s my responsibility,” said Mingo, the sixth overall pick in this year’s draft. “I didn’t do my job in that instance. The guy made a great play, blocked a punt, [Dye] picked it up. I’ve got to do better than that.”
Added Ogbonnaya: “It looked like a breakdown in protection. I felt a guy coming from my right side. Until I see the tape I don’t know what happened, if there was a miscommunication on the line or whatnot. But we’ll get that sorted out.”
It was the first blocked punt allowed by the Browns since Nov. 21, 1993. Bubba McDowell blocked one from Brian Hansen during a 27-20 win for the Houston Oilers in Cleveland.
Unfortunately for the Browns, Mingo’s miscue in protection wasn’t the only lapse they had on special teams with a chance to trim the Bengals’ lead in the division standings to a half game hanging in the balance.
Earlier in the second quarter, Bengals safety Shawn Williams partially blocked another punt by Lanning, and it went for only 9 yards after landing out of bounds at the Browns’ 38. Williams’ tip doesn’t count as an official blocked punt because the ball traveled for positive yardage.
Lanning moved to his right to catch the snap from Christian Yount, though neither player thought the snap led to the deflection. Either way, the Bengals capitalized on the prime field position and scored a touchdown five plays later to build a 14-13 lead.
“I haven’t seen the film at all,” Yount said. “I just go on the feedback and what people are telling me on the sidelines. From what I’m told, [the snap] didn’t affect it.”
The punt team disappointed again when it allowed Adam Jones to return 27 yards to the Browns’ 32 with 20 seconds left in the first half. The play helped set up Mike Nugent’s 41-yard field goal that gave the Bengals a 31-13 halftime lead.
“You get an undesirable punt in the middle of the field, and that’s on me,” said Lanning, who hadn’t had a punt blocked since his sophomore season at the University of South Carolina. “We had him hemmed up and he just came the other way.”
The letdowns were uncharacteristic of a unit special teams coordinator Chris Tabor had performing well for the vast majority of the season.
“It’s disappointing from a special-teams perspective,” Lanning said. “It’s just not good enough.”
Going back to high school, Browns cornerback Joe Haden had never returned an interception for a touchdown. So he had special plans for the football after he finally broke through for a pick-six in the first quarter.
“I’m going to keep it on my shelf,” Haden said. “Dad will get the second one.”
Haden had the first multiple-interception game of his career, but his “second” reference wasn’t to the other ball he nabbed. He threw that one to a fan in the stands wearing his jersey.
Haden was a quarterback all four years in high school in Fort Washington, Md. In college at Florida, he totaled eight picks but returned none for scores.
Haden now has 12 interceptions in his four-year career and three in the past two games.
What looked like a bad throw by quarterback Andy Dalton intended for wide receiver A.J. Green resulted in Haden’s first pick, which he returned for 15 yards to the Bengals’ 14 with 4:02 remaining in the first quarter. The Browns settled for a 28-yard field goal by Billy Cundiff.
“D’Qwell was in A.J.’s way,” Haden said of Browns inside linebacker D’Qwell Jackson. “[Dalton] thought the only way he could get it to [Green] was high and outside. I was standing right out that way.”
Haden got his score with 2:19 remaining in the first quarter on another pass for Green, returning the interception 29 yards.
“He ran a deep stop route and I opened up, came out of my break and went to go undercut the route and the ball was coming,” Haden said. “When I caught it, I didn’t see anybody in front of me. I knew I wasn’t going to get caught from behind so I just took off.”
But the feeling once he got in the end zone wasn’t what Haden expected.
“I always thought I was going to be so excited, go crazy in the end zone,” he said. “It’s just a big play in a big game and I was just trying to help our team win. It felt good, but I wanted to go back out there. … I wanted to do whatever we had to do to win.”
Haden wanted a touchdown so badly he said, “I’ve been practicing for it, praying on it, just trying to develop my game as a corner. When I go up against players like A.J., it’s either you step up or you get embarrassed.”
Haden held two-time Pro Bowler Green to two catches for a career-low 7 yards. Green had a streak of five consecutive 100-yard games snapped.
“He had a tremendous day, a career day,” Jackson said of Haden. “He’s one of the leaders on this team and we expect him to make those plays.”
In a hurry
The Browns hustled out of the postgame locker room because they had a tight window for their flight home. They made contingency plans to bus back to Cleveland in case weather closed the airport in Northern Kentucky.
Linebacker Brandon Magee, a rookie from Arizona State, was afraid to fly in such conditions and rode home with the equipment men.
Magee might not get any grief from his teammates. At 6:40 p.m., guard Jason Pinkston tweeted, “Omg thank you Lord thank you,” and at 6:47 p.m., he wrote, “Landed on two wheels right wing should of hit the ground plane [darn] near rolled over.”
Starting inside linebacker Craig Robertson left the game in the first quarter with a knee injury, returned a few snaps later, then was ruled out in the second half. Tank Carder took over for Robertson.
“Craig is a good player and it’s tough to replace him, but I’m gonna do my best,” Carder said. “I feel like there isn’t a situation on defense that the coaches can put me in that I won’t be able to execute.”
Wide receiver Armanti Edwards (ankle) also missed the second half. He had one carry for no gain out of the Wildcat formation.
Browns quarterback Jason Campbell had a string of 98 consecutive pass attempts without an interception snapped when linebacker James Harrison picked him off with 44 seconds left in the first quarter. Campbell’s previous interception came at San Francisco on Nov. 19, 2012, as a member of the Chicago Bears.
Campbell finished with three interceptions, all of which were tipped. The latter two were intended for receiver Greg Little. Safety Reggie Nelson got No. 2 off Campbell with 4:13 left in the third quarter and defensive end Michael Johnson picked him off again with 1:26 remaining.
Campbell’s 56 attempts were the third-most in franchise history, trailing Colt McCoy’s 61 in 2011 and Brian Sipe’s 57 in 1981.
The Browns will honor the late Mike McCormack by wearing helmet decals Nov. 24 against the Pittsburgh Steelers through the rest of this season. The decals will either be McCormack’s initials or jersey number. McCormack, a Hall of Fame offensive lineman who helped the Browns capture NFL championships in 1954 and 1955, died Friday of natural causes. He was 83.
“Mike was the last of my true football heroes,” Bengals President Mike Brown said in a statement. “With the old Browns, he was captain and he represented everything a captain should. He was a great player and a great person off the field. The NFL never made them better than Mike McCormack.”
Wide receiver Josh Gordon’s 74-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter was a career long, surpassing a 71-yarder at home against the Bengals in 2012. He became the first Browns player with four 100-yard receiving games in a season since Braylon Edwards in 2007. … Ogbonnaya rushed for a season-high 69 yards, including a career-long 43-yarder, and caught six passes for 30 yards. … Ex-Browns tight end Alex Smith scored his first touchdown as a Bengal with a 2-yard catch in the fourth quarter. … Pinkston was active for the first time this season after missing the first nine games with a high-ankle sprain suffered Aug. 15 against the Detroit Lions. … About three hours before kickoff, Browns nose tackle Phil Taylor posted a photo of the Bengals’ official game program cover on Twitter and wrote “motivation.” The cover featured a cartoon of a big Bengal tiger intimidating three cowering dogs. … Strong safety T.J. Ward and running back Willis McGahee joined Jackson and left tackle Joe Thomas as the Browns’ captains. … Tight end MarQueis Gray (hamstring), linebacker Brandon Magee, center Patrick Lewis, offensive tackle Martin Wallace, guard Garrett Gilkey, nose tackle Ishmaa’ily Kitchen and offensive tackle Reid Fragel were inactive for the Browns. … For the Bengals, Mike Pollack started at right guard in place of Kevin Zeitler (foot), and Vincent Rey started at middle linebacker in place of Rey Maualuga (knee). Bengals nickel cornerback and safety Chris Crocker (hamstring) was also inactive
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