The Bengals suffered their first consecutive losses to the Browns since 2012-13 and and were swept by the Browns in the battle of Ohio since 2002. The last time the Bengals dropped both games in one season was head coach Dick LeBeau’s final season, and the Bengals’ last season before the Marvin Lewis era.
Jeff Driskel had a rough game without the Bengals’ top receivers behind an offensive line that just couldn’t figure out the Browns’ blitzes. Driskel passed for 133 yards and two touchdowns with both scores coming in the final five minutes of the game.
The Browns offense was just as effective as the Bengals’ offense was defective. Nick Chubb rushed for over 100 yards while the Browns passed for nearly 350.
The first quarter consisted of mostly punts, but the Browns found some rhythm towards the end of the quarter. Nick Chubb rushed for 33 yards and Mayfield passed for 32 yards on the drive with a three-yard touchdown pass to David Njoku to finish the drive. The tight end out-leapt Shawn Williams for the fade pass, and Greg Joseph converted the extra point to put the Browns up 7-0 with 10:20 left in the second.
The Bengals punted the ball on the next drive, and when the Browns got the ball back, they reached right into their bag of tricks. Mayfield tossed the ball to Jarvis Landry on a reverse, who lobbed it to Breshad Perriman for 63 yards. Two plays later, Mayfield rolled out and tossed a three-yard pass to the tight end Darren Fells, who perfectly boxed out Hardy Nickerson. Joseph missed the extra point, so the Browns were now up 13-0 with 7:12 remaining in the first half.
The Bengals were forced to punt again and the Browns moved down the field with ease. The drive was highlighted by a 20-yard run from Chubb, who was having an excellent half. But the Bengals finally put a stop to the Browns’ offense and forced Joseph to kick a 37-yard field goal with 10 seconds left in the quarter, and the Bengals would go into the locker room down 16-0.
As the score indicated, the first half was all Browns. Chubb had nearly double the yardage that the Bengals’ entire offense had, out-gaining the Bengals 69 to 36. Mayfield had 104 passing yards, so the Browns had over 250 total yards of offense to close out the first half.
Jeff Driskel went into the locker room going two-for-six with three yards. Even though he had positive yards, the offense had -15 total passing yards due to two sacks for 18 yards.
The Browns came out swinging again, taking advantage of an overwhelmed Bengals defense. Chubb ran wild while Mayfield connected on several tight throws. Rashard Higgins found the end zone when Mayfield threw a slant in his direction, then took the ball across the field and stiff armed Darius Phillips and dove for the pylon. With the extra point, the Browns were now holding onto a commanding lead with 4:53 left in the third quarter, up 23-0.
The Bengals finally figured something out on offense, as Driskel threw for 58 yards on their first two drives in the second half. On their second drive of the half, Mixon ran for 24 yards on three carries, but a failed screen and a sack led to a 37-yard field goal from Randy Bullock. The Bengals were finally on the board, but they still trailed by 20 points with just 14:55 left in the game.
The Browns kept driving down the field on Mayfield’s precise passing. But a holding call held up the drive, so Joseph came in for a 47-yard field goal to extend the Browns’ lead to 26-3 with 7:26 to go in the game.
The Bengals’ offense finally came to life with a 28-yard pass to Alex Erickson. Mixon followed that up with a 16-yard run. Driskel then went to C.J. Uzomah twice in a row, with the tight end toe-tapping the sideline for 11 yards on the first play. On the second play, Uzomah high-pointed a high pass and brought down the ball for the Bengals’ first touchdown of the day. Bullock’s extra point was good and the Bengals decreased their deficit to 26-10 with 4:56 in the game.
Clayton Fejedelem, who converted a first down on a fake punt in the first quarter, came up big on special teams again and blocked the Browns’ punt on the ensuing drive, giving the Bengals the ball at the Browns’ 23-yard line. John Ross caught his seventh touchdown of the season on a short roll out from Driskel with 2:52 left in the game. Cody Core caught the two-point conversion, so the Bengals were back in the game down only 26-18.
Even though the Bengals had the Browns backed up, Njoku found a bust in the coverage and took the ball to the red zone on a 66-yard pass. From there, the Browns would kneel the ball to seal the 26-18 victory to win the Battle of Ohio for the first time in 16 years.
The Browns would improve to 7-7-1, while the Bengals would drop to 6-9. The Browns could end the season with the better record for the first time since 2007.