After a first quarter in which the Bengals offense and defense dominated, the team struggled on both sides of the ball in the second half. Defensively the Bengals stabilized, only allowing a third quarter field goal whereas the Bengals offense were completely deflating before 4:31 remained in the fourth quarter. With 11 yards needed for a first down, the Bengals offense rushed to the line of scrimmage on third down while the Browns were just breaking the huddle. The play was over before the ball was even snapped.
The Browns defense was caught completely off-guard, including Joe Haden chatting with his defensive teammates, which allowed A.J. Green to sprint down the right sidelines uncovered. Backup quarterback Bruce Gradkowski (replacing an injured Andy Dalton at half-time) hit Green on the 41-yard pass to take a 20-17 lead.
The Browns had three possessions after Green's touchdown, but were unable to score any points thanks to a good pass rush from the defense and a rough passing game for the Browns (combined with off-target passes and an inability to catch the football from Browns receivers). During the Cleveland's second-to-last possession, McCoy couldn't find a man downfield. Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins forced McCoy up in the pocket just as Robert Geathers speared McCoy in the gut, who tried to complete a pass to his center, forcing the turnover on downs, giving the Bengals the football with 2:07 left in the game.
The Bengals nailed the coffin shut with 1:56 left in the fourth quarter. Just as the Browns called the final timeout, people figured that if the Browns stopped the Bengals on third down, Cleveland would have over a minute to drive down the field for a game-tying field goal.
Cedric Benson said, "f#%k that." Benson, with the help of his offensive line, broke free for a 39-yard touchdown to give the Bengals a 27-17 lead. Benson finished the game with 121 yards rushing.
With just over a minute left in the game, McCoy, who just converted a first down on a quarterback sneak, tried throwing to his right but lost the football. Michael Johnson picked off the pass in the air.
What a finish. What a win. Who Dey!