For Bengals fans, Sunday's drubbing of the Cleveland Browns was more than a welcomed surprise--it was Christmas coming a little early. That's not to say that it was thought that the Queen City Cats didn't have a chance, but after a three-touchdown loss to these same Browns just over a month ago and reeling from another 21-point embarrassment last week, it was tenuous at best.
Instead, the Bengals quieted the Johnny Football narrative and played inspired football. A shutout is a sign of utter dominance and that's what Cincinnati did to Cleveland on Sunday. There were a number of huge plays that led to that 30-0 win in "The Dawg Pound" and we're laying out the best of the best for you to vote on. Cast your choice and sound off on your winner!
Andy Dalton 10-Yard Completion To A.J. Green On Fourth Down In Opening Drive: The Bengals were putting together a solid opening drive to quiet a rowdy Cleveland crowd, but hit a snag about six minutes into the game. They faced a fourth and four from the Browns' 32-yard line, which would have made a field goal attempt close to 50 yards. Marvin Lewis opted to go for it and Hue Jackson dialed up a slant route to his best receiver. Dalton put it on the money and moved the sticks. The drive ultimately culminated in a gut-punch of a touchdown.
Dalton and Green convert a fourth and four with 9:31 remaining in the first. https://t.co/g6T7X4xoBj— Josh Kirkendall (@Josh_Kirkendall) December 14, 2014
Jeremy Hill Two-Yard Touchdown Run To Close Opening Drive: Speaking of that epic first drive, Hill capped it with a pounding two-yard touchdown run in a jumbo formation. Eric Winston and Domata Peko reported as eligible receivers, while the rest of the line shoved the Cleveland defense back. Even though it wasn't an explosive play, it did help to set the tone for the rest of the afternoon.
Mike Nugent's 44-Yard Field Goal At End Of First Quarter: The Bengals began marching again after a three-and-out from Johnny Manziel and the Browns offense, but it ended up fizzling out. After Dalton got sacked, it pushed the ball back to the Browns 27-yard line, creating a tough situation for the heavy-hearted Nugent. He kicked it through for three big points that began the Cleveland landslide.
Wallace Gilberry's Sack On Johnny Manziel: The Cincinnati defense smelled blood in the water and they wanted to teach the cocky rookie a lesson. The Browns called a read-option play and Manziel held it only to have Gilberry charge in for a seven-yard sack. Big No. 95 flashed Johnny Football's signature "money sign" in celebration and it was on.
Wallace Gilberry with a sack on 2nd and 6 with 1:10 remaining in the first. Gilberry offers the JPP money s... https://t.co/wjQs46sT4u— Josh Kirkendall (@Josh_Kirkendall) December 14, 2014
Jeremy Hill's 16-Yard Touchdown Run In Second Quarter: The rout was looking like it was on when the Bengals got the ball back right before the first quarter ended. Brandon Tate had a nice return on a punt that set the Bengals up in prime real estate. It was all Hill on this drive, capped by a physical 16-yard sprint for a touchdown. This put the Bengals up 17-0 with the second quarter just underway.
Dre Kirkpatrick's Second Quarter Interception: Manziel was trying desperately to get anything going and after their first two first downs finally coming (via a penalty), he dropped back to pass. He found Andrew Hawkins who had been dragging across the field and was open for brief moments. But, Manziel fluttered the pass, allowing a lightning fast Dre Kirkpatrick swoop in for the pick. It led to another Nugent field goal.
Dre Kirkpatrick intercepts Johnny Manziel with 11:21 remaining in the second. Reached the Browns 33. https://t.co/eZyQyU6Zd7— Josh Kirkendall (@Josh_Kirkendall) December 14, 2014
Adam Jones' Interception In End Zone Before Half: The Cleveland offense finally showed some life right before halftime and were driving to end the point drought. Manziel felt some pressure as he dropped back to pass from the Cincinnati 19-yard line on third down. Again, the ball fluttered to his intended receiver and Adam Jones flew in to grab the interception, disallowing any points.
Rex Burkhead's First Career Touchdown In Fourth Quarter: The game was over, the blowout was on and the Bengals were just chewing clock by running the ball. Cincinnati marched for a 13-play drive, where the fourteenth was Rex Burkhead's first career touchdown. He ran it in from ten yards out and 30 seconds left on the clock.
REX!!! Bengals up 30-0 with 23 seconds remaining after Rex Burkhead TD run. https://t.co/4Nrn876qfD— Josh Kirkendall (@Josh_Kirkendall) December 14, 2014