The Bengals and Browns faced off for the first of two meetings in Week 14.
In front of their home crowd, the Browns controlled the ball on the ground, rushing for six yards per carry and two touchdowns. The running game was good enough to overcome Baker Mayfield’s poor passing performance, completing 11 of 24 for 192 yards, no touchdowns, and two picks.
The Bengals’ offense wasn’t up to par, despite Joe Mixon’s 146 rushing yards and one touchdown on 23 carries. Andy Dalton was 22 for 38, with 262 yards, no touchdowns and one interception.
The Bengals’ offense did something that they haven’t been able to do all season: score on the opening drive. A 21-yard pass to Tyler Boyd and a 26-yard run from Joe Mixon set the Bengals up in the red zone, and Randy Bullock converted a 34-yard field goal. With 10:56 to go in the first quarter, the Bengals already had a 3-0.
The Browns’ passing game got off to a hot start, and Baker Mayfield started off a perfect three-for-three with 40 yards. Just when it looked like Cleveland was going to end up in the end zone, Mayfield’s fourth pass was ripped the out of David Njoku’s hands into the hands of Nick Vigil for the interception.
On the ensuing possession, Dalton threw the ball right through Auden Tate’s hands and into the arms of Denzel Ward. Ward returned the pick for a 48-yard touchdown, and with 5:36 to go in the first quarter, the Browns took a 7-3 lead.
Andy Dalton High and outside to Auden Tate, who is 6’5”. Hits both his hands, results in pick-six. pic.twitter.com/0VWmiRKkOP— Anthony Cosenza (@CJAnthonyCUI) December 8, 2019
Thanks in part to a 26-yard pass from Alex Erickson to Giovani Bernard, the Bengals found the red zone again. A sack stalled the drive, so Bullock nailed a 44-yard field goal with 1:41 to go in the quarter, so the Bengals only trailed 7-6.
The Bengals forced the Browns into a third and ten on the next drive. The ball tipped off of Khadarel Hodge’s hands, B.W. Webb tipped it again and Jessie Bates III hauled it in out of the air for the interception.
Jessie Bates III with his third interception in 2019. All three have come in the past five weeks. Matches his 2018 total as a rookie pic.twitter.com/sjFqQCOpRf— Anthony Cosenza (@CJAnthonyCUI) December 8, 2019
The Bengals turned the interception into points as Joe Mixon capped off the drive with a two-yard rushing touchdown. With 12:07 left in the half, the Bengals had the lead at 13-7.
A pair of 20+ yard passes to LSU receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry along with a 29-yard run from Kareem Hunt got the Browns into striking range. Baker Mayfield carried the ball himself dove into the corner of the end zone for a seven-yard touchdown run, and took back the lead with 6:37 remaining in the half, now leading 14-13.
The Browns got off to a strong start with a 57-yard run from Nick Chubb early in their first drive. Hunt finished the drive with a three-yard touchdown to give the Browns a 21-13 lead with 12:10 to go in the second half.
Looking to respond, the Bengals gradually moved their way down the field. The Bengals got done down to the three-yard line, but were forced to go for it on fourth and inches, and Mixon pushed his way through for the first. But Dalton was sacked, so the Bengals actually lost yards before they had to settle for a field goal. The 28-yarder was good, and the Bengals cut the deficit to 21-16 with 4:39 left in the third frame.
The Browns controlled the ball on the ground, with Chubb and Hunt combining for five carries and 29 yards. The drive stalled just past midfield and the Bengals forced a 53-yard field goal try. Austin Seibert’s kick was good with 16 seconds left in the third quarter, and the Brown’s lead increased to 24-16.
The Bengals tried to replicate the Browns’ run dominance, and rushed Mixon and Bernard for nine attempts and 56 yards. Faced with a fourth down on the four-yard line, Zac Taylor called a QB draw that came up a few yards short of the end zone. The Bengals last chance to make the game competitive ended just short of the goal line.
The Browns wanted to play conservatively and run the ball, and the Bengals were actually able to stop the run. Unfortunately, a 22-yard pass to Ricky Seals-Jones and a 34-yard pass to Landry, both of which came on third down, broke the back of the defense and moved the Browns to the red zone. The Bengals finally stopped the Browns on third down, but Seibert kicked a 31-yard field goal to put the Browns up 27-16 with only 66 seconds to go in the game.
The Bengals hurried up and kicked a 46-yard field goal. Now down only one score with a 27-19 deficit, the Bengals attempted an onside kick, but the Browns recovered and kneeled the game out.
With the final score of 27-19, the Bengals picked up their 12th loss of the season, their fifth in the division, and their first on the year in the battle of Ohio. The Bengals will return to Cincinnati in Week 14 to play the Patriots before their rematch with the Browns in Week 17.