Here’s a rundown of what transpired in Cleveland’s 26-18 win over the Bengals:
Cincinnati was forced to try the field goal after the couple of losses and Randy Bullock hit a 51-yard attempt to cut the Browns’ lead to 23-3.
As the Browns worked to end the game with a win, things began to get chippy on their ensuing offensive possession. Carlos Dunlap hit Baker Mayfield as he was going out of bounds and a scuffle ensued. Even so, the Bengals’ defense held Cleveland to another field goal to give them a 26-3 lead.
The Bengals continued to use Joe Mixon for effectiveness on the ground, as well as Alex Erickson and C.J. Uzomah in the passing game. Uzomah had two nice plays in a row, in which the second ended in a nice touchdown grab to put the game at 26-10 with just under five minutes left in the contest.
As the Browns looked to run out the clock from the ensuing kickoff, Cincinnati made them pay with a blocked punt by Clayton Fejedelem. It set the Bengals up deep in Cleveland territory, as Driskel hit Ross for a touchdown. He then got the ball to Cody Core on a two-point conversion to make the game interesting at 26-18.
Cincinnati tried to hang in the contest with it being a one possession game, but the defense tripped on its own feet yet again. Christian Ringo was called for an inexplicable defensive hold on a run play to set up a 65-yard pass play to David Njoku in which many Bengals players took awful angles before finally taking him down.
It set up the Browns being able to kneel down three times to end the contest with a 26-18 win. Cleveland has swept Cincinnati for the first time since 2002.
Cincinnati was undoubtedly looking for some momentum after receiving the kickoff to start the second half, but still couldn’t gain any ground. Linebacker Vontaze Burfict was ruled out for the rest of the game with yet another potential concussion and he wasn’t happy about it.
In fact, Cincinnati’s offense moved backwards on their initial drive, thanks to a false start on Bobby Hart and a run by Joe Mixon for minus-3 yards. Cleveland began their march once again, using the ground attack to gouge the Bengals.
On a 3rd-and-short, Mayfield hit Rashard Higgins and he did immense work to get into the end zone for a 23-0 lead with just under five minutes left in the third quarter. The Browns took the ball 87 yards down the field.
The Bengals finally scraped a drive together and looked to finally be able to get into the end zone. But, an incredible sequence of events occurred, including a screen pass to John Ross that lost yards, as well as another sack of Jeff Driskel.
The teams exchanged punts, thanks in part to a big offensive pass interference penalty on Rashard Higgins. But, the Browns finally got going with a drive filled effective runs by Nick Chubb and solid passing from Baker Mayfield. After converting a 4th-and-1, Mayfield hit David Njoku in the end zone to give the Browns a 7-0 over the Bengals with 10:20 left in the second quarter.
Cleveland got the ball back after Bobby Hart was beaten for sack on a third down and went right back to work. Using some trickery that included a 63-yard pass from Jarvis Landry to Breshad Perriman. Mayfield hit Darren Fells for a 1-yard score—his second touchdown pass to a tight end on the day, as Cleveland went up 13-0 (they missed the extra point) with 7:18 left in the second quarter.
The Browns stifled the Bengals’ offense once again and moved down the field via Chubb, Perriman and Duke Johnson. Cleveland ended up settling for a field goal right before the half to extend their lead to 16-0 into halftime.
Cincinnati ended up holding Cleveland to a punt on their first possession, after it looked like the Browns may have grabbed a first down on a 4th-and-1. But, a penalty negated the play and Cincinnati got the ball. The Bengals looked to punt, but ran a fake with Clayton Fejedelem on a fourth down to keep the drive alive. Even so, it led to a inevitable Bengals punt.
The Bengals have a chance to finish the 2018 season strong against two teams that beat them earlier in the season. First on the list is the Cleveland Browns who have won four of their last five games. Cincinnati lost the first game in Week 12 with the final score being 35-20. Cleveland jumped out to a 28-7 lead in the first half that all but ended that game at that point.
The Browns clearly had some extra motivation that game as it was their first chance to face off against their former head coach Hue Jackson, who joined the Bengals’ staff a few weeks after being fired.
The Bengals lost Andy Dalton after halftime, which has resulted in Jeff Driskel leading the team the rest of the way. Cincinnati will be trying to overcome injuries as Tyler Boyd’s availability will be in question after suffering a knee injury against the Raiders. Joe Mixon and John Ross have also been limited in practice for most of the week, which doesn’t leave the Bengals many options on the offensive side of the ball.
Cincinnati may have the extra motivation in this game as there seems to be more of a chance that Marvin Lewis’ seat is getting pretty warm, and they may give that extra effort to insure he sticks around for another season. They pulled off a similar feat when they upset the Lions and Ravens last season to knock both of those teams out of playoff contention. Although, even if they lose out you shouldn’t hold your breathe on Lewis losing his job anyway.
How to watch the Bengals take on the Browns in Cleveland:
Game: Cincinnati Bengals (6-8) at Cleveland Browns (6-7-1)
Date/Time: Dec. 23rd, 2018 at 1:00 p.m. EST
Location: First Energy Stadium, Cleveland, OH
Series Leader: Bengals lead the all-time series 50-40
Streak: Bengals have won seven of the past eight
Coaches vs. Opponent: Marvin Lewis: (22-9) vs. Gregg Williams (3-0)
Television: The game will air on CBS. In the Bengals’ home region, it will be carried by WKRC-TV (Ch. 12) in Cincinnati, WHIO-TV (Ch. 7) in Dayton and on WKYT-TV (Ch. 27) in Lexington. Broadcasters are Spero Dedes (play-by-play) and Adam Archuleta (analyst).
Radio: The game will air on the Bengals Radio Network, led by Cincinnati flagship stations WLW-AM (700), WCKY-AM (ESPN 1530; all sports) and WEBN-FM (102.7). Broadcasters are Dan Hoard (play-by-play) and Dave Lapham (analyst).
SB Nation Browns site: Dawgs By Nature
Weather: Mid 30’s, Mostly Cloudy [NFL weather]
Odds: Bengals open as, +7 [Odds Shark]
Prediction: ESPN FPI gives the Browns a 60,2-percent chance of winning. numberFire projects a 25-19 win for the Browns, while TeamRankings is going with a 26-18 victory for Cleveland.