Browns 41 Bengals 16
In one Sunday afternoon the Bengals players and coaches effectively unearthed every doubt, fear, weakness, talking point, historical references and criticism they had attempted to bury in getting to 5-2. The Bengals dropped passes, threw interceptions, fumbled the ball, tackled poorly, needed timeouts to deal with confusion and basically got their a-$%^ kicked for 60 minutes.
So much for 6-3 and 3-0 in the division. This one will leave a mark as the Bengals sit on the bye. It will also leave many questions to be answered. Who are these Bengals? Consider how we'd felt in August with 5-4 at the bye vs how we feel about it after a 5-2 start.
The Bengals offense started quickly, for a change, with the Bengals driving 11 plays/75 yards on the opening drive only to have Joe Burrow force a pass to Ja'Marr Chase that was intercepted at the one-yard line by Denzel Ward and returned 99-yards for a Pick 6. The Bengals answered the sudden change adversity with another drive that went 9 plays/75 yards and resulted in a Joe Mixon touchdown TD to make it 7-7.
The Bengals ran the first 20 plays of the game over two drives: 20 plays, 141 yards, 10:50......and yet the game was tied.
The Browns ran through and over the Bengals from there, outscoring them 34-9 the rest of the way.
The Browns ran just 15 first plays in leading 24-10 at the half. For the game, the Bengals ran 70 plays to 46 for the Browns, and had the ball 11 minutes longer, but were outgained 361-348.
Bengals offense: 42 plays/249 yards in the first half.......28 plays/99 yards in the second half.
One week after going -2 vs the Jets in the turnover battle, the Bengals were -3 vs the Browns.
The Browns scored 3 TD's of 60+ yards: 99 yard INT return for TD, Donovan Peoples-Jones 60-yard TD catch (Apple toasted), Nick Chubb 70-yard TD run.
Joe Burrow was not good. He was bad. He threw two more INT's, seemingly hell bent on forcing the ball to Chase. Burrow now leads the NFL with 11 picks and has at least one in five consecutive games. 28-40-282, 0 TD, 2 INT, 5 sacks, QB rating 69.0. Burrow was under repeated pressure, hit 12 times. He was pulled with 4:47 left in 4th quarter in an act of preservation and admission to the pending outcome by Zac Taylor. His streak of eight straight games with at least 2 TD passes came to an end. He has three multi-pick games after none last season.
What has happened to the D? The tackling was a mess. Again. The Bengals surrendered 7.8 yards per play, including 6.7 yards per carry (23-153-6.7). Chubb rumbled 14 times for 137 yards (9.8) and two scores. Per NextGen: Chubb was successful running against stacked boxes (8+ defenders), gaining 109 yards and scoring 2 TD on 8 carries.
The defense allowed scores on eight consecutive possessions (5 TD/3FG) from the final five drive by the Jets through the first three drives by the Browns....
That's 68 points and 881 yards allowed by the defense over the last two games. Baker Mayfield tossed 2 TDs with a 132.0 QB rating. He's now 6-1 vs Bengals.
Trey 3rd Down Hendrickson had another sack. That's 8.5 for the season and 22 in his last 25 games. Sam Hubbard was active, with a sack, four tackles and three QB hits.
Yikes: Chase had a brutal day: 6 catches on 13 targets, 2 INT, 2 drops, including a TD drop and fumble. He had a killer TD vs the Jets. Tee Higgins also dropped a TD. Tyler Boyd wasn't targeted until his first and only catch with 7:00 left in the game. Boyd had 2 targets/Chase and Boyd had 21. Six players had more targets than Boyd. Boyd: 1 catch on 2 targets vs Browns and 1 catch on 3 targets vs Lions. Semaje Perine dropped a 3rd and 3 catch in the first quarter.
Bright light: Joe Mixon had 110 yards of total offense and 2 TD. 13-64-4.9, 5 catches/46 yards.
New face: Hakeem Adeniji started in place of Jackson Carman at right guard.
Injuries: Brandon Wilson was carted off with a knee injury. Akeem Davis-Gaither left with a foot issue and did not return.
Two weeks after sitting as the No.1 seed in the AFC playoff picture the Bengals now sit No. 10 in a 7-team playoff chase.
By the way: So much for that chaos and disruptions the Browns were supposed to be dealing with last week.......and the injuries of Mayfield.