Bengals vs. Browns: Live Game Grades and Analysis for Cleveland

Andy McNamara@@AndyMc81Correspondent IISeptember 29, 2013

Sep 22, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer (6) throws during the second quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sport

End of game: For the second consecutive week the Cleveland Browns have pulled off an unlikely upset. This time it came at home against their division rival Cincinnati Bengals. Both teams now sit with a 2-2 records as Cleveland gets ready for a quick turnaround Thursday night game.


Final Score

Bengals: 6

Browns: 17


Final Game Analysis for the Cleveland Browns

Pass Offense: Just like a week ago the passing game stalled in the third quarter and Brian Hoyer got away with a couple of passes that should have been intercepted. Cincinnati stepped up their pass rush with numerous hurries and three sacks overall. The right side of the offensive line cracked in the second half, which negated the run and limited Hoyer’s effectiveness.

Jordan Cameron and Josh Gordon came alive in the fourth quarter to re-ignite the air attack and, as he did in Minnesota, Hoyer did enough when it counted to pull out a victory. The hometown quarterback finished the day by tossing for 269 yards, two touchdowns and a 103.9 QB rating.

Run Offense: The ground game was largely abandoned in the third quarter with Willis McGahee and Bobby Rainey getting nowhere. Different story in the fourth quarter as McGahee came alive and missed a touchdown run by no more than a yard. A combined rushing effort of 89 yards for Cleveland.

Pass Defense: Joe Haden finally won his personal “Battle of Ohio” against Bengals’ star receiver A.J. Green as he held him to just 51 yards, but it was an up-and-down day for Buster Skrine as he had an interception and some key tackles to go along with an idiotic personal foul and pass interference calls.

Cleveland did get burned several times over the middle by Cincinnati’s large tight ends, but in the end they took away Dalton’s deep threat options. The entire secondary easily played their best game of the season.

Run Defense: Neither BenJarvus Green-Ellis or Giovani Bernard were able to gain any traction all afternoon. The duo combined for just 50 yards on the day for the duo as a result of another terrific effort by the Browns defense. Barkevious Mingo proved that he is ready to be a three-down linebacker as he seemed drawn to whoever the ball-carrier was.

Special Teams: A lot of credit goes to kicker Billy Cundiff, who composed himself after two misses in the first half to connect on a 51-yard field goal. The kick and punt coverage units were stellar throughout as they did not give up a return of more than 22 yards.

Coaching: A couple of wildcat plays were called and neither one got more than two or three yards. Cleveland’s head coach Rob Chudzinski’s challenge on a third-down conversion from Andy Dalton to A. J. Green paid off as it came back in the Browns’ favor. The Bengals ended up getting the first down anyway on 4th-and-1.

There was nothing too outlandish today, but a conservative offensive fourth-quarter game plan got the job done.

Sep 29, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns tight end Jordan Cameron (84) is congratulated by Cleveland Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski after catching a first quarter touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credi
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports


First-Half Analysis

Pass Offense: After a three-and-out to start, Hoyer picked away at short passing plays that began to pay off. It was a smart move using Travis Benjamin on a bubble screen in space, which he converted into a 39-yard catch and run. With the deficiencies in Cincinnati’s secondary due to injuries, it would have been nice to see more shots taken downfield.

Hoyer went 6-for-6 in the first quarter, but looked out of sync on a few plays in the second frame on passes intended for Davone Bess and Josh Gordon. He displayed a smooth touchdown delivery over the back shoulder to tight end Jordan Cameron, though.

Run Offense: The running back by committee strategy continues with Chris Ogbonnaya having the most success (25 rushing yards). Cleveland’s ground game just needs to be respectable enough for a defense to bite on play-action. It’s not there yet.

Pass Defense: The third-down stop struggles continued for the Browns in the first few Bengals possessions. However, they improved as the half progressed and allowed the visitors to convert on just two of six attempts.

The Cleveland secondary kept the dangerous A.J. Green in check. Joe Haden and safety Tashaun Gipson both deserve credit for solid double coverage as well.

Run Defense: In his first NFL start Barkevious Mingo buzzed all over the field. There’s still a half of football left to play, but stopping the run does not seem to be an issue for the rookie. A key stuff on a fourth-down run highlights his performance.

Cincinnati’s speedy running back Giovani Bernard was generally held in check and not allowed to get to the next level where he is truly dangerous. He's averaging 3.7 yards per carry on seven handoffs. 

Special Teams: Spencer Lanning is handling kickoff duties once again. It's a strange choice following the Browns’ touchdown as Lanning kicked a squib that gave Cincinnati field position near the 50. Kicker Billy Cundiff missed field-goal attempts of 37 and 49 yards. I wonder if that quad injury is still an issue for Cundiff.

Greg Little returned all kickoffs and looked good doing so. Little used his size advantage and good footwork to amass a total of 60 yards on two returns.

Coaching: The Browns used up all three of their timeouts by the halfway point of the second quarter because of on-field miscommunication (like Gordon lining up incorrectly, for example) on both sides of the ball. Burning those timeouts forced Cleveland to hurry a late second-quarter drive that ended in a missed field goal.