CINCINNATI: Browns rookie running back Trent Richardson conceded that it was a relief to get into the end zone.
But he’s not sure where his celebratory somersault came from. He believes linebacker D’Qwell Jackson provided the inspiration last week after he returned his first interception for a score.
“It just happened,” Richardson said. “I just thought about D’Qwell when I got to the end zone.”
The copycat move came after his 32-yard run in the second quarter, the first of two Richardson touchdowns in the 34-27 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium. But Richardson knows his sideways effort was somewhat lame.
Asked who’s a better flipper, he said, “D’Qwell, most definitely. They told me I need to work on mine.”
Richardson’s best moment came with seven seconds left in the third quarter, when he turned a check-down pass from Brandon Weeden into a 23-yard touchdown reception, breaking two tackles and eluding two defenders, one as he spun away.
“I’m just blessed with a certain talent God gave me,” Richardson said when asked whether he knew how many defenders were falling in his wake. “I don’t know how I did it.”
Richardson showed why the Browns traded up one spot to land him with the third overall pick. Along with his two touchdowns, he rushed 19 times for 109 yards and caught four passes for 36 yards.
He became the first Browns rookie to rush for 100 yards in a game since Lee Suggs, who totaled 186 yards on 26 carries against the Bengals on Dec. 28, 2003. That was also the last time a Browns rookie running back scored a rushing touchdown.
“He’s a special player,” Browns rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden said. “He’s a difference-maker, and today he showed that. We asked a lot of him today, not only in the running game, but he caught some balls out of the backfield and did some things there.
“I kind of saw the play where he scored on the little check-down, and I’m ready to see it on tape because, from my angle, it was one of the most explosive plays — unbelievable plays — that I’ve seen in a while. I was really excited about the way he played.”
In his debut last week against the Philadelphia Eagles, Richardson looked rusty from Aug. 9 arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. He managed 39 yards on 19 carries and caught one pass for five yards.
“I think I was just more comfortable with myself that, ‘Hey, I’m still able to run like I used to’ and do it much better,” Richardson said of his improvement. “In my head, [I was thinking] ‘I’ve got to run much stronger because these guys are much stronger than the guys in college.’ Hopefully I’ll come out stronger next week.”
But Richardson conceded that he got extra motivation from Bengals linebacker Rey Maualuga. In an interview with Paul Dehner Jr. of CBSSports.com published Wednesday, Maualuga said, “He can run you over and you can miss a tackle. At the same time, from what we’ve seen, he didn’t do nothing spectacular. From running screens, missing passes, trying to find a hole when he’s running the ball, he just didn’t do anything spectacular from what I’ve seen. I’m pretty sure he’s going to want to get after it once he plays us.”
Richardson said he spoke to Maualuga after the game.
“He said, ‘There’s some messed up words in there. I respect your game,’ ” Richardson said. “I said, ‘It doesn’t matter what you say, it doesn’t matter whether you said it or not, we’re just playing football.’ ”
Asked whether he thanked Maualuga, Richardson said, “Oh, yeah.”
Short at corner
The Browns didn’t have either of their top two cornerbacks in the starting lineup, and the Bengals exploited the changes by racking up 318 yards and three touchdowns through the air.
“If you ask any team in the NFL if they go into a game without their two starting cornerbacks, it’s gonna be pretty difficult,” strong safety T.J. Ward said. “… The two guys, they start for a reason. It’s because they’re the best cornerbacks on the team.”
Joe Haden sat out the first game of his four-week suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances, and Sheldon Brown appeared in only one play because he’s still dealing with the effects of a neck stinger he suffered in the first quarter of the Sept. 9 season opener. Brown extended his streak of consecutive regular-season games played to 162.
“He’s still nursing [an injury],” Jackson said. “But it was an opportunity for the other guys to show what they can do.”
Cornerback Dimitri Patterson started in place of Haden, who used Twitter to issue an apology to his fans over the weekend. In a surprise move, Buster Skrine played instead of Brown, who fully participated in all of the team’s practices last week despite his injury. Rookie Trevin Wade was the nickel corner and played in the slot.
Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green ran a hook route, caught a pass inside the Browns’ 5 and ran into the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown with 10:27 left in the second quarter after breaking Patterson’s attempted tackle. But Patterson also deflected a pass over the middle, and Jackson intercepted it with 2:19 left in the third quarter. The Browns capitalized five plays later when Richardson turned Weeden’s short pass into a 23-yard touchdown.
Skrine didn’t fare as well as Patterson. He was often pushed around, he whiffed on at least a few tackles and he was called for a 31-yard pass interference penalty that set up a field goal for the Bengals in the second quarter.
“You tell him, keep his head up and you keep moving because the reality of the situation is cornerback is a position of exposure,” Patterson said. “Any little thing that you do negative or positive is going to get exposed.”
At one point, Ward was the only starting defensive back in the game because free safety Eric Hagg temporarily left in the second quarter with an injured eye. Hagg returned in the third quarter and lost wide receiver Brandon Tate in coverage on his 44-yard touchdown reception.
Back in action
Scott Fujita made his 2012 regular-season debut and started at strongside linebacker. A three-member appeals panel lifted Fujita’s three-game suspension for his alleged role in the New Orleans Saints’ bounty scandal Sept. 7.
Fujita injured his left knee Aug. 10 in the preseason opener and missed most of training camp. He did not play in Week 1, even though his suspension was not in effect.
“Obviously, it would’ve been great to come back with a win, but it was good to come back, be out here with the guys,” said Fujita, who had four tackles. “I felt great.”
Running back shuffle
Brandon Jackson was a surprise scratch for the Browns. His inactive status was not related to an injury, a team spokesman said.
Meanwhile, Chris Ogbonnaya assumed the role of the Browns’ third-down running back. Ogbonnaya led the Browns with six catches for 73 yards, both of which were career highs. He lost a fumble with 3:42 left in the second quarter, though the Bengals failed to capitalize.
Browns incoming owner Jimmy Haslam III had a long conversation with Bengals owner Mike Brown on the sideline before the game. Browns President Mike Holmgren and Haslam’s wife, Dee, stood nearby.
Haslam attended Florida’s 37-20 victory over Tennessee on Saturday night in Knoxville, Tenn., flew to Cincinnati and stayed at the team hotel. He then rode one of the Browns’ buses from the hotel to Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday morning.
Quarterback Thaddeus Lewis, wide receiver Jordan Norwood, safety Ray Ventrone (hand), rookie linebacker James-Michael Johnson (ribs/oblique), offensive lineman Oniel Cousins (ankle) and linebacker Tank Carder were inactive. … Tight end Alex Smith and rookie defensive tackles Billy Winn suffered concussions, coach Pat Shurmur said. Smith left the game in the fourth quarter and Winn in the in the first quarter. … Defensive end Juqua Parker left the game in the third quarter with a sprained foot, Shurmur said. … D’Qwell Jackson totaled a career-high three sacks, become the first Brown to notch three since Kenard Lang against Baltimore on Sept. 12, 2004. … The Browns’ six sacks were their most since they totaled eight against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Dec. 10, 2009.