"Worst season I've ever played in," Browns running back Jamal Lewis.
That could be the understatement of the century as the visiting Cincinnati Bengals shutout the Cleveland Browns 14-0 in windy Cleveland Browns Stadium. With the victory in the 71st battle of Ohio, the Bengals took the all-time series lead 36-35. The Bengals recorded their first shutout since holding the Browns scoreless on Nov. 26, 2006, also the last time the Browns were shutout.
The game was basically over after two offensive series. The Bengals received the opening kick-off and drove to midfield before their drive stalled. On the Browns’ ensuing possession, third-string quarterback Ken Dorsey hit Leon Hall in the left flat for a 50-yard touchdown. Unfortunately for the Browns, Hall plays corner back for the Bengals.
Hall torched Dorsey and wide receiver Braylon Edwards all night long, intercepting him three times total. The high winds off of Lake Erie bothered Dorsey just as much as he completed a respectable 10-17 passes, but only for 68 yards, the longest being a 15-yarder to Edwards, and the three costly interceptions.
Cincinnati’s Ryan Fitzpatrick struggled with the wind as well, but the Bengals’ game plan had him only throwing nine passes for the entire game. He completed five for 55 yards, including a perfectly thrown corner route to Chris Henry. Henry beat Browns’ cornerback Eric Wright in the middle of the second quarter for the insurmountable 14-0 lead.
With the 14 point cushion and the Browns’ failure to score an offensive touchdown in the previous four games, the Bengals turned to running back Cedric Benson. Benson rushed a career high 38 times for 171 yards as the Cincinnati simply played keep away and ate up the game clock for most of the final two and a half quarters.
The Browns failed to score an offensive touchdown for the fifth consecutive game and got another quarterback hurt in the process. Dorsey, playing because of season-ending injuries to Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn, suffered a mild concussion and injured ribs late in the fourth quarter
Enter recently signed QB Bruce Gradkowski, who may have to start the season finale in his hometown of Pittsburgh against the Steelers. Gradkowski was an unimpressive 2-5 for eight yards and an interception. Bengals linebacker Brandon Johnson tipped and intercepted Gradkowski’s second pass on the second to last drive of the game.
Jamal Lewis finished with 76 yards on 16 carries to become the 24th player in NFL history to rush for 10,000 career yards. Lewis came in needing 63 yards to eclipse the mark and achieved the milestone on an eight-yard burst in the third quarter. It was the lone highlight for the Browns on an otherwise frigid day.
The Bengals can actually pass the Browns for third place in the AFC North with a victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in Cincinnati and a Browns’ loss in Week 17.
The Browns travel to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers in Week 17 where they will be legitimately looking at the possibility of a sixth consecutive game without an offensive touchdown. The Steelers have beaten the Browns ten consecutive times and, on paper, should have no problem making it eleven, even if they rest their starters for most of the afternoon.