The Cleveland Browns were able to defeat the visiting Cincinnati Bengals 32-13.
It was a house of horrors Monday night, but not for the Browns. Cleveland came away with a decisive Halloween night victory over the Bengals, at one point leading 25-0 over their division rival. In fact the defense was able to keep Cincinnati off the scoreboard until early in the 4th quarter. This was the all around performance that the Browns have been looking for all season and it came at a very crucial time.
The Browns outgained Cincinnati 440-229 and dominated time of possession 36:45 to 23:15. Both teams committed two turnovers with all coming before the half. Neither team was able to capitalize off their forced turnovers as the results were a missed field goal, punt, another fumble, and a second missed field goal. The game was less sloppy in the second half, but it was the Browns who got a head start with their 11-0 halftime lead, being able to build upon it with three second half touchdowns.
A big factor for Cleveland was the play of their defense as they played like a cohesive unit for one of just a few times this season. While the defense started off on the wrong foot, being called for 12 men on the field for the first play of the game, they rebounded quite nicely. The Browns kept Cincinnati’s rushing attack in check, limiting the Bengals to 36 yards on 10 carries. This surprising performance combined with the Browns sacking Joe Burrow five times added up to a great outing for the defensive unit.
Nick Chubb led the rushing attack with 101 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries. This was the third 20+ carry outing for Chubb this season and just like the other two it was a Browns win.
It was a highly involved night for Kareem Hunt, finishing with 11 rushes for 42 yards and four receptions for 30 yards. After the last two games saw Hunt carry the ball nine times, it was a return to an increased workload for the 27-year old ballcarrier.
Cleveland’s leading receiver was Amari Cooper reeling in five passes for 132 yards and a touchdown. Cooper’s touchdown came late in the 3rd quarter as the Browns took a four-score lead.
Donovan Peoples-Jones also had a productive night with four receptions for 81 yards. The former Michigan wideout has at least 71 yards in four of his last five games and has become a very productive complimentary receiver in the Browns passing attack.
Aside from a gross lost fumble it was an efficient outing from Jacoby Brissett. Brissett was 17-22 for 278 yards and one touchdown while being sacked twice. This was the highest yardage output of the season for Brissett and his 133.7 rating was the best in his eight starts.
Making his front yard Halloween decorations come to life was Myles Garrett. Garrett totaled 1.5 sacks and hit Burrow four times in the contest. It was a very impactful night for the former first overall pick.
Leading the Browns in tackles was Sione Takitaki. It was the best game of Takitaki’s career up to this point, totaling 13 tackles (six solo) and sacking Burrow once. The sack forced a fumble which was recovered by Tommy Togiai late in the 2nd quarter. With how poorly the Browns linebacker corps have performed this year hopefully this is a sign of things to come from Takitaki as this Cleveland defense desperately needs it.
Also registering sacks in the contest were Deion Jones, Isaiah Thomas, and Taven Bryan. It was the first sack of Thomas’ career, the first in Cleveland for Jones, and Taven’s half was the second straight game getting to the quarterback.
A.J. Green was able to continue an impressive streak for the Browns defense and an unfortunate one for Burrow. Burrow has now thrown an interception on the opening drive in three consecutive games.
Cleveland sits at 3-5 as they head into a much needed bye week. The Browns have plenty of injuries and need to get healthy. They also need to tighten a lot of things up on both sides of the ball. There have been plenty of times that an underwhelming Browns team has dominated a good opponent with nothing to show for it at year’s end. The tough stretch ahead post-bye is very intimidating and will dictate the success or failure for the rest of the season. If the Browns can somehow keep things afloat until Deshaun Watson comes back things will get interesting down the stretch.