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Week 9 Bengals vs Browns: Johnny Football vs Cincinnati take 2

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The Cincinnati Bengals are ready for their second matchup with Johnny Football

Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back, Johnny.

Let's rewind a little. Cleveland had lost three out of their last four games coming into a Week 15 game against the Bengals in 2014. Former starter Brian Hoyer, who was talking of a contract extension when Cleveland beat Cincinnati 24-3 (during a Thursday night football game), had thrown seven interceptions in the three games leading to week 15, without a touchdown. Worried that they were falling out of the playoff race, the Browns had a dramatic move up their sleeve, starting Johnny Manziel.

The Cincinnati Bengals were waiting.

Manziel felt the pain as the Bengals' defensive front took massive shots and mocked his "money sign" trademark throughout Cincinnati's 30-0 win over the Browns last season. In addition to three quarterback sacks, Cincinnati took 13 additional shots (hits, pressures) on Manziel. However, it was more philosophical.

"The Cincinnati Bengals, I think, did something really bright in the game against Johnny Manziel," said Peter King on NBC's Football Night in America following the Bengals win on Dec. 14. "They looked back at his college career and saw that the worst game, he played in college, was against LSU last year. And the key in that game, don't let Manziel go left. So here (showing the interception by Adam Jones in the endzone) they force him to the right. The biggest play of the game, he throws a terrible interception. Give credit to Paul Guenther, the Bengals defensive coordinator for finding that."

As for the Bengals' defense, they were entertained at the attention Manziel was receiving.

"All week everybody wanted to make the game about (QB Johnny Manziel)," said defensive end Wallace Gilberry at the time. "We just took that out and focused on us and focused on what we do. We were able to come out and put on a pretty good show."

"All we hear is Manziel, Manziel, Manziel all week and we just wanted to go out there and keep people quiet," said nose tackle Domata Peko last year. "We did. The Dawg Pound was kind of quiet today."

It's been a struggle since.

Manziel suffered a hamstring injury the following week, missed a team meeting later that season and drove his JFF-loving-ass to rehabilitation for alcohol addiction -- was it because he was felt there was a problem or a first step towards repairing his image? There were other issues since leaving rehab (getting aggressive with a fan, an argument with a girlfriend) that were eventually filed under "overreaction because he's JFF". With a start against the Titans in his pocket, Manziel has completed 28 passes this season on 50 attempts, scoring three touchdowns while turning the ball over three times (one interception, two lost fumbles).

With starting quarterback Josh McCown out during practice this week, Browns head coach Mike Pettine announced that Manziel will start against the Bengals.

"On the short week, we realized that Josh just wasn't going to be able to get to the point where he could go," Browns coach Mike Pettine said in a statement. "Johnny has worked hard to prepare himself. He is excited about his opportunity and we are all looking forward to the challenge."

"I think a lot of ground has been covered," Pettine said of Manziel's play over his two seasons. "I think he's a different player."

"I think he has done a much better job this year of doing exactly what he has been asked to do, inside and around us," Browns general manager Ray Farmer said. "When we see him here in the building Johnny has been doing the right things that we want to see him do from a learning and growth perspective."


Cincinnati won't have starting right tackle Andre Smith, who suffered a concussion against the Steelers last week. It's expected that Eric Winston, the veteran offensive tackle who replaced Smith last week, will start. Defensive end Carlos Dunlap and linebacker Rey Maualuga are questionable. Dunlap was a limited participant all week while Maualuga returned to practice on Wednesday after sitting earlier this week with a calf injury.

As for the Browns, it's a length injury report:

Browns injury report


From the Bengals:

The Bengals have been made aware that Hamilton County Sheriff investigators have apprehended individuals traveling to Cincinnati in possession of a large quantity of counterfeit tickets to tomorrow night's game between the Bengals and the Cleveland Browns.

The game is a sellout, and the Bengals wish to alert fans that only tickets purchased through the Club or directly from Ticketmaster can be depended on as valid. Extreme caution should be taken if fans are attempting to purchase tickets from any other source for tomorrow night's game.