clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Bengals offense goes quiet in 24-3 loss to Browns

On to Baltimore.

Syndication: The Enquirer Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

The 100th game between the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals was quite the throwback with the conditions. The rain started early and had a clear impact on both teams with poor passes, players slipping, drops, and fumbles.

The Browns were the ones who answered the call. They took advantage of their early lead to grind the clock. The Bengals offense never really clicked the whole game. They had bad starting field position, terrible weather, and all sorts of obvious timing issues. They just never found an offensive answer in the 24-3 loss to kick off the new season.

The Bengals received the opening kickoff of the game. The drive was somewhat saved by a Burrow to Ja’Marr Chase first down on the team’s first third and long, but it eventually fizzled out with a Brad Robbins punt that pinned Cleveland inside their own 20-yard line.

The big takeaway from that drive was the amount of pressure the Browns were able to get on Burrow. One quarterback hit came via a play action that relied on tight end Irv Smith Jr. coming around on a pull to block Za’Darious Smith on the right side. The drive ending third down was a sack that involved Myles Garrett taking on Cordell Volson at left guard for a sack.

We also saw all three active running backs get on the field with Joe Mixon, Trayveon Williams, and Chris Evans. Rookie running back Chase Brown was a healthy scratch for the game.

The Browns' first drive was derailed after Deshaun Watson rushed for the team’s first down. A blitz that sent Germaine Pratt and Logan Wilson on a blitz during a play-action got home. It gave Cleveland a 2nd-and-long that they were a B.J. Hill ankle-wrapping tackle away from being able to convert on.

A quick three-and-out by the Bengals after a dropped pass by Smith on 3rd-and-1. That set up a long drive for Cleveland. Running back Nick Chubb got going with a couple of decent runs where he was finally able to get to the second and third levels of the defense. The drive however ended with running back Jerome Ford coughing up the ball on a handoff from Watson that was initially dropped by the quarterback. Pratt was able to force the fumble.

Cincinnati was able to recover inside their own 15-yard line to prevent points from being scored on the drive. The drive never found traction, with Tyler Boyd tackled a yard short of the first down.

The Browns were able to take advantage of the good field position with a field goal. The Browns were able to hit Amari Cooper down the field for a first down, but a low pass to Elijah Moore on third down was dropped. Had the pass been in stride, he would have likely walked into the end zone as rookie cornerback DJ Turner slipped on the play.

Stop if you’ve heard this, the Bengals offense did not get going. They went three-and-out and punted from their 20-yard line. The poor conditions via the rain and rust from not having live action (or training camp in Burrow’s case) have been evident from the start.

The Browns didn’t fair much better. They also had right tackle Jack Conklin carted off with an apparent knee injury. Safety Daxton Hill and cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt combined to end the drive. Hill came in as a free rusher putting a hit on Watson, which made him rush a pass to an open receiver down the field. Taylor-Britt was able to easily close on the receiver because of that and almost came away with an interception.

The Bengals offense was finally able to find a few first downs again via Mixon ripping off some big runs where he was able to break a few tackles. They stalled at the Browns 40-yard line. Cleveland also stalled out around that same spot, their punt combined with a penalty pinned Cincinnati at their own 5-yard line, which led to another three-and-out.

A couple of punts set up the Browns with the first touchdown of the game. A designed run for Watson opened up perfectly to the left side for Cleveland to extend their lead to 10-0 with just 17 seconds left in the half. The rain had started to let up on the drive, and we saw Watson start to hit a few more passes on the mark than when the rain clearly had an impact on both teams.

The Browns also received the second-half kickoff. Trey Hendrickson recorded a sack on Watson to set up a third-and-long. That caused a Cleveland punt. Cincinnati’s offense found a little life with Chase drawing a defensive pass interference. The pressure on Burrow continued, though, as the quarterback had several throws that could have either been scores or decent gains rushed into incomplete passes.

While the drive stalled, kicker Evan McPherson was able to drill a 42-yard field goal to make it a 10-3 game.

The Bengals defense answered the call with Hill intercepting Watson’s pass and giving the offense its best field position of the day, starting at the 50-yard line. The pass was tipped by defensive lineman Zach Carter. The drive saw the return of the terrible weather and a stalled drive that had McPherson just missing from outside 50 yards.

The Browns then Followed up the missed field goal with big runs from Chubb and Watson. A great open-field tackle on Elijah Moore forced Cleveland to settle for another Dustin Hopkins field goal to bring their lead back up to 10 points.

Burrow and the offense failed to convert on fourth down around their own 30-yard line, and that led to a pretty quick touchdown and 2-point conversion. The Browns led by 21 with just over nine minutes to go in the game.

A couple of punts by each team led Cincinnati to take Burrow out with just five minutes left in the game needing three touchdowns to tie. That marks the end of meaningful football for this one.

The Bengals offense looked about as bad as it possibly could. Last season during the Week 1 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, we saw at least the offense come back to life. That did not happen here. We can blame the weather, but it is the regular season now, and a team has to be prepared no matter what. These slow starts tend to come back up later in the season. It could easily be the difference in a couple of home playoff games and needing to win a bunch of games on the road.

But it is way too early to even think about playoffs after a performance like this. Cincinnati has shown they can overcome early losses, but they have to show they can keep doing that next week against the Baltimore Ravens in Baltimore.