Grades in Bengals 41-20 win over the Browns

John Grieshop

We break down Cincinnati's performance during the Bengals 41-20 win over the Browns.

Quarterback: It was a particularly rough start for Andy Dalton, completing only two of his first six passes with two being picked off -- one returned for a touchdown. After his second interception, Dalton's next pass was deflected at the line of scrimmage which instinctively caused Bengals fans to jeer. Thanks to the defense and special teams sticking up for a struggling Bengals offense, Andy Dalton eventually recovered. In the second, third, and fourth quarters combined, Dalton completed 10 of 19 passes for 71 yards, three touchdowns and a passer rating of 101.1.

Grade: C+

Running Back: I've had the hardest time trying to figure out Cincinnati's rushing offense. They're a productive group, but it seems like the inconsistent attention has led to ineffective results. BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Giovani Bernard combined for 107 yards rushing on 26 carries for a 4.1 yard/rush average. Bernard also led the team with four receptions and 41 yards receiving, giving him 86 yards from scrimmage.

Grade: B

Wide Receiver: A.J. Green took the blame for Dalton's two interceptions -- at the very least, he should have on the first one. Mohamed Sanu caught two passes, one for a touchdown while adding a 25 yard throw. Marvin Jones caught one pass for nine yards, which put Mike Nugent into position to kick a field goal at the end of the first half. Other than that, crickets.

Grade: C

Tight End: For some reason, Tyler Eifert only saw one pass and he completed that for a 15-yard gain -- it's the least amount that he's been targeted for a game following a season-high 10 targets against the Ravens. Jermaine Gresham scored his second touchdown of the season on a move called YOU CAN'T BRING ME DOWN. Both tight ends combined for three receptions for 42 yards receiving and a touchdown.

Grade: B

Offensive Line: After struggling so much against the Ravens, Cincinnati's offensive line rebounded beautifully against the talented Cleveland Browns defense. Andy Dalton was hit once, didn't get sacked and was pressured six times on 30 drop backs. Additionally the running lanes were there, allowing BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Giovani Bernard to combine for a 4.1 yard/rush average.

Grade: A-

Defensive Line: Even without defensive tackle Geno Atkins, the Bengals are still making the case for having the best defensive line in the NFL. Michael Johnson, Carlos Dunlap and Wallace Gilberry each recorded three tackles and a quarterback sack. Johnson added three passes defensed, a forced fumble and an interception. Dunlap led the team with four additional hits on the quarterback and nine total pressures. All the while Domata Peko led the entire defensive line with four stops.

Grade: A

Linebacker: Vontaze Burfict's performance is well-documented by now -- led the team with 15 tackles, returned his own forced fumble for a touchdown. Vincent Rey followed up last week's performance with 12 tackles against the Browns, one for a loss, a hit on the quarterback and a pass defensed. Rey is making the case for playing time when Rey Maualuga makes his projected return after the bye. James Harrison added an interception and a momentum-generating touchdown run through Cleveland's offense (which was called back on Brandon Thompson's illegal block). Best overall unit on Sunday.

Grade: A+

Secondary: Josh Gordon broke away from Dre Kirkpatrick, who had suffered a shin injury right before half time, for a 74-yard touchdown in the third quarter. This play was 30 percent of Jason Campbell's total passing yards on Sunday as Terence Newman and Adam Jones played well, combining for six receptions allowed (on 15 attempts), 62 yards receiving and two passes defensed. In fairness to Kirkpatrick, this was the one blemish in an otherwise solid performance. Kirkpatrick allowed only one additional reception (for two yards) while adding a quarterback sack. Reggie Nelson picked off a pass, finished third on the team with nine tackles and added two passes defensed -- one of which was down the left sidelines on a sure-touchdown reception had he not played it well.

Grade: B+

Special Teams: If we're giving the game ball to anyone, it's special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons. Special teams helped orchestrate and sustain Cincinnati's second quarter surge and will go down as one of the top-ten performances of the year. Two punts blocked, one that directly led to a touchdown. Two successful field goal conversions. An Adam Jones 27-yard punt return that led to one of those field goals at the end of the second quarter. Kevin Huber punted the football nine times (yikes) and averaged 45.3 yards per punt -- three inside the 20-yard line. He also had a touchback (how dare you, Kevin).

Grade: A+

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