CLEVELAND—We've seen this story before.
The Browns jump out to a lead and then the opponent comes storming back.
In this game, it happened twice.
However, the Browns were able to move the ball when they had to at the end of the game with their running game and the Browns hung on to their first win of the season, 23-20 at Cleveland Browns Stadium in front of 66,731 fans.
It's huge whenever you get a win here," Browns linebacker Matt Roth said. "It's huge when we fight, and we help each other out. We've got each other's backs. That was our motivation coming into today. Whatever happens, we've got each other's backs and we did. The offense covered the defense, and special teams covered it all."
The Browns jumped out to 10-0 lead and then a 23-10 midway through the third quarter, but then allowed the Bengals to score 10-straight points to pull within three at 23-20.
However, the Browns received the Bengals at their own 11 with 4:41 to play, clinging to a three point lead. After an incomplete pass by Seneca Wallace, Pat Sims was flagged with a huge defensive holding penalty that gave the Browns a first down at the 17.
From there, a steady dose of Peyton Hillis was all the Browns needed as they held the ball for the final 4:41 and were able to run out the clock. Hillis ran six-straight times, including a 24-yard run on second-and-7 at the two-minute warning that finished the Bengals off.
It was great," Browns offensive lineman Eric Steinbach said. "We ran that particular play a few times in a row. Each time it was two yards or three yards, and on that last one he popped it, and that was the deciding run for the win."
Hillis finished with 102 yards rushing, including a touchdown for his second-straight 100-yard game.
Hillis stayed inbounds on the run and the Bengals burned all their timeouts by the two-minute warning and Wallace was able to take a knee for the final three plays to run the clock.
The Browns scored first as Dawson hit a 30-yard field goal with 2:28 to play in the first quarter after a fumble by Carson Palmer gave the Browns the ball on the Browns' 48.
Wallace hit Watson for 11 yards on first down to the Bengals' 41. A 9-yard pass to Chansi Stuckey on third-and-8 gave the Browns a first down on the 30. On the next play, Wallace hit Stuckey for 14 yards to the 16.
Wallace hit Watson in the end zone, but the officials ruled he lost control of the ball. The Browns challenged, but the play was not overturned. The Browns were not able to get any closer than the 13 and Dawson hit the field goal. The Browns had the ball 3:20 as they covered the 39 yards in nine plays.
The Browns extended their lead to 10-0 with 11:04 as Wallace hit Evan Moore for a 24-yard touchdown as he reached high to beat former Brown Chris Crocker. The Browns started at their 13 and a 15-yard pass to Josh Cribbs got the ball to the 44. On the next play, Wallace hit Stuckey for 16 yards to the Bengals' 40. Stuckey fumbled the ball by a hustling Floyd Womack jumped on the ball for the Browns.
Peyton Hillis ran over the left side for 12 yards to the 28. After a four-yard run by Hillis, Wallace found Moore. The Browns went eight plays and 87 yards on the drive.
It was a great pass," Moore said. "We ran the play in practice on Friday and it went just like that against our defense. Seneca threw a great pass."
The Bengals answered the Browns touchdown with a field goal as Mike Nugent hit a 24-yard field goal with 7:16 to play in the second quarter to make it 10-3. The Bengals had their longest drive of the game going 61 yards in eight plays. Palmer hit Chad Ochocinco for 42 yards on the first play from scrimmage to the Browns' 25 as Ochocinco beat Eric Wright. Palmer hit Terrell Owens for eight yards to the 13 and after two runs by Bernard Scott the Bengals were at the six facing third-and-3. Palmer tried to hit Owens near the goal line, but Wright dove in front of Owens and knocked the ball away forcing the field goal.
The Bengals came back and tied the game at 10-10 as Palmer hit Owens for a 78-yard touchdown as Owens got behind Sheldon Brown. After forcing the Browns to punt on their next possession, the Bengals took over on their 25. On the second play after a holding penalty, Palmer hit a streaking Owens for the score with 3:30 to play in the half. It was the longest touchdown pass of Palmer's career.
The Bengals had a chance to take the lead with 1:31 to play in the first half, but Scott Fujita blocked a 43-yard field goal attempt by Mike Nugent. It was Nugent's first miss of the season.
"There was not a whole lot to it except I had two big guys, one on each side of me, clear things out and it kind of came open," Fujita said. "I was surprised as anybody else because I have never blocked a kick in my life."
However, after the blocked kick, the Browns moved down to the Bengals' 13 and Dawson kicked a 31-yard field goal as time expired to give the Browns a 13-10 lead.
On the first play, Wallace hit Stuckey for nine yards to the 43. Three plays later, Wallace hit Ben Watson for 21 yards over the middle to the Bengals' 32. A personal foul was called on Chinedum Ndukwe that moved the ball to the 17. The Browns were unable to get any closer than the 13 and kicked the field goal as time expired. The Browns went 53 yards in eight plays to set up the score.
The Browns increased their lead to 20-10 to open the second half as Hillis went in from one yard out. The Browns took the kickoff and drove 64 yards in 11 plays, taking 6:06 off the clock.
A pass interference penalty called on Dhani Jones on Moore moved the ball to the Bengals‘ 46. After an 11-yard pass to Watson and an 8-yard pass to Stuckey took the ball to the 20, the Browns ran the ball five-straight time for the score.
After the kickoff, Fujita sacked Palmer on the second play and stripped the ball, which Coleman pounced on at the Bengals' 13.
The Browns couldn't get a touchdown, but increased their lead to 23-10 as Dawson kicked a 22-yard field goal with 6:32 to play.
The Bengals came back after the Browns field goal and added a 25-yard field goal by Nugent to make it 23-13 with 1:14 to play in the third quarter. The Bengals had the ball for 5:18 as they went 76 yards in 10 plays before stalling inside the Browns' 10. Matt Roth sacked Palmer two plays before the Bengals had to settle for the field goal.
The Bengals cut the Browns lead to 23-20 with 10:44 to play in the game as Brian Leonard took a shovel pass from Palmer for a three-yard touchdown. The Browns aided the Bengals with two defensive penalties, one after stopping the Bengals on third down inside the 10.
After forcing the Browns to punt, the Bengals started on their 20 and quickly moved downfield as Palmer hit Owens for 27 yards. After a holding penalty on Eric Wright gave the Bengals a first down, Palmer hit Owens again for 17 yards to the Browns' 24. Palmer hit Jordan Shipley for 20 yards to the four. On third-and-goal, Palmer tried to hit Shipley for the touchdown but it fell incomplete. However, T.J. Ward was flagged for hitting Shipley in the head to give the Bengals a first down at the three, instead of having to take the field goal.
The Bengals last opportunity with the ball they were moving and were within field goal range at the Browns' 31 when Ochocinco was called for offensive pass interference on third down. Instead of forcing Nugent to try and tie the game with a 48-yard field goal, the Browns elected to take the penalty and give the Bengals another play.
However, Matt Roth had his second sack of the game as he chased Palmer down from behind forcing the punt that gave the ball back to the Browns.
When big plays needed to be made, we made them," Roth said. "They've got good wide receivers, a good running back, they've got a good tight end, and they've got a good quarterback. With a team like that, you just keep trying to make plays on them."
The Browns got the ball back at their own 11 with 4:41 to play and were able to hang on to it the rest of the way and run out the clock.
Wallace for Three: QB Seneca Wallace made his third-straight start for the Brown s in place of QB Jake Delhomme, who was the third quarterback. Delhomme was suited up for the game, where he hasn't been in uniform in the previous two games. He threw a touchdown pass to TE Evan Moore and had an interception. He finished 18-of-30 for 184 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
TD Peyton: RB Peyton HIllis scored a touchdown in his fourth-straight game. The last time a Browns player had a touchdown in four games in a row was in 1975 when Greg Pruitt scored in five straight. Hillis finished with 27 carries for 102 yards, including a touchdown. He caught 2 passes for 8 yards.
The Cribbs: WR Josh Cribbs had three carries for nine yards and two receptions for 24 yards on offense.
Sack Day: LB Matt Roth had two sacks, while LB Scott Fujita and DL Kenyon Coleman added sacks to give the Browns four on the day.
Pass Catchers: TE Ben Watson had six receptions for 60 yards and WR Chansi Stuckey had five catches for 56 yards.
Honest Abe: DB Abe Elam led the Browns with five tackles.
TO Loves the Browns: WR Terrell Owens had four receptions for 128 yards and a 78-yard touchdown in the first half. He became the second leading receiver in NFL history in yards receiving. Owens finished with 10 receptions for 222 yards and a touchdown.
"We knew they were going to bring a lot of pressure," Owens said. "It was just one of those things where you try to make a play when the ball is coming your way."
Three DL Play: All three starting defensive lineman were active for the Browns after being doubtful until Friday. Robaire Smith and Kenyon Coleman started and Shaun Rogers came in for Ahtyba Rubin, who started in Rogers' place.
Coleman Recovery: After being doubtful most of the week, DL Kenyon Coleman recovered a fumble by RB Cedric Benson on the Browns' 48. Coleman had a sack on the next series. He recovered his second fumble of the game in the third quarter at the Bengals' 13 on a fumble by Palmer.
Script Ohio: The Ohio State marching band performed the national anthem and did script Ohio at halftime.
Confusion: On third-and-2 on the Bengals first series, the Browns defense called time out when one of the Bengal receivers was unguarded.
Pashos Starts: OL Tony Pashos made his first start for the Browns at right tackle with OL John St. Clair inactive with an ankle injury. Pashos entered early in last week's game with the Ravens when St. Clair was injured.
Inactives: For the Browns, OL Shawn Lauvao, TE Alex Smith, WR Brian Robiskie, OL John St. Clair, RB James Davis and DB Derrick Roberson and QB Jake Delhomme is the third quarterback. For the Bengals: CB Brandon Ghee, HB Cedric Peerman C Reggie Stephens, DE Jonathan Fanene, OT Anthony Collins, WR Jerome Simpson and DE Carlos Dunlap. Dan LeFevour was the third quarterback.