The Bengals came in with a clear game plan to not let Trent Richardson beat them and force Brandon Weeden to throw the football. While the Bengals accomplished the goal of stopping Richardson, Weeden made enough plays to help get the Browns the victory. The receivers helped Weeden out by catching the ball, including a one-handed 71-yard touchdown catch by Josh Gordon.
At least for one Sunday, Pat Shurmur’s Cleveland Browns learned how to finish a game. When things looked like the Browns were going to give the game away, they made the plays when they needed to be made. Joe Haden came back strong but almost helped the Bengals come back at the end of the game when A.J. Green got behind him for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
The young players on the defensive line had to step up today with Ahtyba Rubin being out with an ankle injury. They did a good job holding the Bengals under 100 yards rushing, and rookie Billy Winn sealed the victory with a fumble recovery after a strip sack.
The last game of the Lerner family ownership will end with a victory over the Bengals, as Jimmy Haslem III is set to be approved as the majority owner on Tuesday. The Lerner years have been light on wins, and Browns fans can only hope this is the first of many wins in the Haslem era.
While there were many bright spots in this game, not everyone in Browns land fared well. Let’s take a look at the winners and losers in the Browns' victory.
The rookie from Baylor is quickly making fantasy players happy scoring his third touchdown in the past two games. In the group of Browns receivers who are not the most talented, Gordon has established himself as the vertical threat.
The two touchdown catches over 60 yards haven't stopped defenses from packing the box to stop Trent Richardson yet, but they will soon. The supplemental second round pick gamble is starting to pay off for the Browns.
The return man from Kent State redeemed himself for the fumble in last week's game by racking up 123 yards in kick and punt-return yardage.
While he didn't get in the end zone, he is starting to get close with a kickoff return long of 44 yards and a punt return long of 60 yards. Cribbs also made key tackles on special teams, which was a problem for the Browns in their first meeting against the Bengals.
Josh Cooper, who was activated from the practice squad this week, gave Brandon Weeden the security blanket he needed. The two catches by Cooper both came on third down, which has been a hot topic of conversation for the Browns of late.
Both of the 3rd-and-long catches were on the Browns' side of the field, which were key to the field position battle. The familiar connection for the Oklahoma State teammates should become a regular sighting in future games.
The third-year running back has been on the active roster in previous games but hadn't carried the ball until today. When Trent Richardson went down with an injury, most would have thought the Browns had no chance to win the game.
Jimmy Haslem had to be proud of his fellow Tennessee Volunteers' performance, which played a big part in closing out the Bengals for the victory.
The numbers didn't look much better for the Browns secondary, giving up 362 yards passing and three passing touchdowns, but Joe Haden made key plays when they were needed.
After serving his four-game suspension, Haden's welcome-back present was to cover A.J. Green, one of the NFL's best receivers. Haden had his typical game against Green by limiting him most of the game and giving up one touchdown.
Mr. Haden has given up one touchdown to Green every game he has played against him. Haden's presence allowed defensive coordinator Dick Jauron to roll coverage to the other side of the field to help out the other defensive backs. Haden ended the day with five tackles, three pass breakups and one interception.
While Joe Haden played well and Sheldon Brown had a pick-six, the Browns secondary is still giving it up to much in the passing game. If they keep giving up over 300 yards passing and three passing touchdowns, it will get them beat most weeks in the NFL.
Trent Richardson wasn't having much success before he got hurt in large part because the Bengals got off the bus determined to stop him. The rookie running back watched most of the game, while Montario Hardesty finished the game and got in the end zone.
Richardson seems to bounce back well after adversity, and the Colts could be the victims next Sunday.
The last original member of the 1999 Browns is the best kicker in the NFL, and he finally got more extra points than field goals today. The winds at Cleveland Browns stadium were swirling as usual, and no kicker in the league knows how to kick in bad weather, on the Cleveland lakefront, better than Dawson.
The Browns run defense came up big today, holding the Bengals under 100 yards rushing and preventing any rushing touchdowns. This is a nice bounce-back performance after giving up over 200 yards rushing to the New York Giants last week.
Some could say the Bengals took the strategy "why drive when we can fly," but it didn't stop the Browns from winning the game.
The fans of the Cleveland Browns have watched their team lose 11 straight games, but they keep coming back for more. The stadium came alive to support the team when the players showed they were not going to allow "here we go again" to beat them late in the game.
The fans won today, and at least for a week, can take a break from being the punching bag of the NFL fanbase.