It’s the fourth consecutive loss the Bengals have taken to their in-state rival, but they have greater things on their mind right now. The Bengals are on to the postseason, and we have your regular season finale winners and losers:
Ja’Marr Chase: Zac Taylor had one goal in mind in the first quarter—allow Chase to make history. Two receptions for 26 yards were enough for Cincinnati’s rookie phenom to break Chad Johnson’s franchise record for most receiving yards in a season. Chase left the game with his health, and is ready to do more damage in the postseason.
Wyatt Ray and Trayvon Henderson: It didn’t seem like the Bengals were destined to score any points in the first half until Ray intervened. The backup defensive end got to Case Keenum just as the quarterback was about to throw and forced a fumble. Henderson, in the game for an injured Ricardo Allen, scooped the ball up and ran it in for Cincinnati’s first touchdown of the game.
Mike Hilton: The Browns began their second quarter two-minute drill by targeting Hilton. Jarvis Landry cooked the cornerback for 22 yards. The end of drive worked out much better for Hilton as he picked off an errant Keenum pass in the end zone for his second interception of the year.
Mike Thomas: A third turnover nearly happened as Thomas expertly punched the ball out of Donovan Peoples-Jones’ fourth quarter punt return. The Browns recovered the fumble, but a great special teams moment for Thomas nonetheless, who played a full game on offense as well.
Mike Daniels: No one had a more consistent game on defense than Daniels. The veteran defensive tackle broke free of the Browns’ starting offensive line numerous times to make plays in the run game. It’s not out of the question that Daniels may have to play in the playoffs, and his work on the practice squad this year has him ready to do so if needed.
Trayveon Williams and Chris Evans: No Joe Mixon and rest for Samaje Perine gave Williams and Evans more opportunities than they’ve had all season. Williams, specifically, made use of his chances in the run game, racking up a 38 solid yards on nine carries. Evans had some nice moments with the ball in his hands as well.
Markus Bailey: Bailey got another start with Logan Wilson being a healthy scratch, and the second-year player had an active first half. He got caught up in coverage a few times, but he looks much better in the run game as he gains more experience. He finished with 11 tackles on the day.
Isaiah Prince and Hakeem Adeniji: Two of the lone starters to play significant snaps looked more like backups. Prince was charged with false start and holding penalties in first two drives. Adeniji allowed an easy sack against a blitzer and was generally lackluster for most of the day. He was unfortunately injured early in the second half, causing Keaton Sutherland to enter the game. Adeniji’s status for next week may be up in the air now.
Brandon Allen: This wasn’t the redux of the Texans game last year. This was closer to last season’s finale against the Ravens for the Bengals’ backup quarterback. Allen eventually made some nice throws late in the afternoon, but he did not look competent at all for most of the game. That he was surrounded by reserves didn’t help. When the offseason arrives, the role for Joe Burrow’s backup spot should involve some competition.
Playoff seeding: With the loss, the Bengals dropped to the fourth seed in the AFC Playoffs. A win would’ve kept them at the third seed since the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans both won this weekend. It’s certainly not a big deal, but this decreases the chances of the Bengals hosting more than one playoff game if they should win next week.