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Bengals Bytes (11/28): Giving the rookies a shot

Even though the Bengals didn’t activate their first-round pick, they did play many rookies throughout their win over Cleveland. Marvin Lewis defends Vontaze Burfict’s hit from early in the game on Sunday.

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NFL: Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Bengals vs Browns: A look back at the 3 keys to victory
It was closer than the score indicated. But, for now, it’s time to bask in the glow of a second straight W. The Cincinnati Bengals took care of business against a better than advertised Cleveland Browns team. There were some tense moments in Sunday’s 30-16 win and the deciding blow didn’t come until an unnecessary roughness call on Jabrill Peppers with 3:57 left in the game. That penalty helped extend a Bengals drive that would help seal the game.

Mixon finally hits triple-digits, Bengals get run game going
Joe Mixon was frustrated. Accustomed to breaking off big run after big run for Oklahoma, the rookie running back couldn’t even get back to the line of scrimmage with the Bengals. Big plays? Just getting a couple of yards was the best he could do. Finally, he accepted that sometimes that’s the way it goes in the NFL, and things started to change.

Bengals podcast: Cincinnati Bengals are still in the hunt after Joe Mixon's first 100-yard game
We're still in the hunt! The Cincinnati Bengals unsurprisingly beat the winless Cleveland Browns 30-16. Surprisingly though, the win came from a strong run game courtesy of rookie Joe Mixon's first 100-yard game. The win puts the team just one game back in the hunt for a wildcard berth.

Walkthru: Steelers game about Bengals reconnecting with a fan base
Never have we moved quicker from one win and looked at the next game than Sunday. Beating the winless Browns was more of a necessary exercise than achieving moment. Now the Steelers in primetime bring out all the feels Sunday may have lacked. Instant reaction when bringing up the Steelers game didn’t exactly elicit positivity out of the followers. Feels like Bengals fans are bracing for impact.

Nostalgic run
Andre Smith has seen all sorts of backs run for 100 yards for the Bengals from his spot at right tackle. He was there when Cedric Benson put up 179 yards in a play-off game, when BenJarvus Green-Ellis went back-to-back for 100 for the first time in his career, when Jeremy Hill became the first rookie back since Paul Robinson in the first year of the franchise to put up a pair of 150-yard games.

Letting the kids drive
As the Bengals put away Sunday’s game in their last drive, they provided a glimpse of the future with a pair of 21-year-old rookies at the center of it all. Running back Joe Mixon fittingly finished off his first 100-yard day with three bruising runs that gave him 71 of his 114 yards coming after contact, according to And even though quarterback Andy Dalton had thrown to wide receiver Josh Malone just twice in the last three games, he didn’t hesitate to go up to him with the game on the line.

TDBH: Bengals command Battle of Ohio’s points offensive
"I don't even know what the score was," says Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer after the Bengals and Browns turn today’s “Battle of Ohio,” into a video game in time for Christmas shoppers at Paul Brown Stadium before 65,677 utterly puzzled spectators. "But it was a fun game for a quarterback to be in." In the highest scoring game by both teams since the 1970 NFL merger, as well as the second highest scoring game in league history, the Bengals race to a 58-48 victory with their highest scoring game in history.

Lewis News Conference Transcript 11/27
Going back and reviewing the football game yesterday, the positives were that the offense took care of the football, which was a key element in the game. We didn’t get any takeaways, but were able to control field position all but once, which was good. We did allow the 90-yard drive, but for the most part, we were able to maintain field position. We would like to score touchdowns there rather than the field goals early on.

Slants and screens: Tough skedding; Lewis defends Tez, Carter; Top rookie sackers meet; Storylines
It’s shaping up as a tough December for the Bengals when it comes to their schedule, but they’ve had tougher in the Green-Dalton years. The 5-6 Bengals, whose wins have come against teams with a combined 12 victories, face a schedule boasting a .561 winning percentage, including a pair of division leaders in 9-2 Pittsburgh next Monday night at Paul Brown Stadium (8:30-ESPN) and in 9-2 Minnesota on Dec. 17. Which is just fine with six-year veteran safety George Iloka, who has seen all sorts of Decembers

AFC North Bytes

Ravens' MNF Win Highlights NFL's Major Playoff Problem
The Baltimore Ravens made a statement Monday night. Not the typical season-defining statement we often speak of after a key win. Though yes, they did finish the evening with a win of some significance, beating the Houston Texans 23-16. The statement they made wasn't about their potential for a deep postseason run. It wasn't about how much the 6-5 Ravens should be viewed as a threat to pull off a first-round upset if they can hold onto the second wild-card spot. And it definitely wasn't about their strength as a well-rounded team, because that just wouldn't be true at all.

Hue Jackson isn't changing his stance on Jabrill Peppers' hit: Cleveland Browns quick hits
Browns head coach Hue Jackson's view of the unnecessary roughness penalty against safety Jabrill Peppers hadn't changed by the time he met with the media for his weekly press conference on Monday afternoon. "I'm not going to change," Jackson said. "I stand on what I said yesterday. I will not change from that. I think it was a good play by our player."

Random Bytes

NFL Power Rankings: Where Does Every Team Stand Heading into Week 13?
This is the time of year when we're really entering NFL playoff football. While some teams are dominating, others are fighting desperately for their shots at the tournament, and still others are trying to figure out who and what they are. In other words, most games over this final stretch are going to hold significance.

Suspensions from Talib-Crabtree fight are among harshest ever
The NFL on Monday night announced two-game suspensions for Denver Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib and Oakland Raiders receiver Michael Crabtree. It was swift justice for an extended fight one day earlier. Shortly thereafter, Raiders coach Jack Del Rio tweeted his understandable confusion about the discipline, noting the NFL's refusal to suspend the protagonists of an equally violent fight four weeks earlier in Jacksonville.

Blow It Up: What Changes Do Struggling NFL Teams Need to Make?
We're 12 weeks into the 2017 NFL season. For many teams, that means the push to the postseason is underway. Some are jockeying for any spot, while others are angling for a first-round bye or home-field advantage. For other teams, however, a different kind of push is underway. For the NFL's bottom-feeders, the rest of this season isn't even about this season. It's about what comes next.