The Browns came into the game with the number one ranked defense in the NFL against the pass.
You wouldn't have guessed that as they let rookie quarterback Andy Dalton have his way with them. Twice the Browns had a 10-point lead in the second half. But in the end, the Browns couldn't stop the Bengals when they needed. The Bengals did not lead in the game until Mike Nugent kicked the game-winner with 38 seconds to play.
Dalton threw a third down pass to A.J. Green for 51 yards to set up the Bengals' game-winning field goal. The Bengals started near midfield after a botched snap once again by Ryan Pontbriand on the Browns attempt to take the lead. Dalton threw for 270 yards with a touchdown and a rating of 105.6. Benson rushed for 103 yards and Green had 110 yards receiving.
The defense made a good goal line stand to start the game after allowing the Bengals to move all the way to the Browns' one. The Browns scored on the opening drive. Conversely, the defensive let the Bengals drive quickly down the field.
However, on fourth-and-goal, the Bengals elected to go for the touchdown and Cedric Benson was stopped short of the goal line as Kaluka Maiava came over the top and Mike Adams helped stop Benson short of the goal line.
The defense gave up first downs twice on the drive of third-and-19 and third-and-8. The Bengals also overcame two penalties on the 13-play drive before the Browns stopped them.
After falling short by a few feet on their first drive, the Bengals scored on their next possession on a 16-yard run by Benson after the Bengals took over on the Browns' 47. The run was set up by a 24-yard pass from Dalton to Green.
The defense allowed the Bengals to come back twice in the second half from 10-point deficits. The Browns had a 17-7 lead after Greg Little's first NFL touchdown and then again at 20-10. A field goal by Nugent made it 17-10, but after extending the lead to 20-10 on a 54-yard field goal by Dawson, the defense allowed a 22-yard touchdown pass to Jermaine Gresham to make it 20-17 with 1:22 to play in the third quarter.
Nugent kicked a field goal to tie the score at 20 and then kicked the game-winner in the final minute.
Great Start for O: After all the talk all season, the offense got the monkey off their back by scoring on their opening possession. The Browns took the opening kickoff and marched 82 yards in nine plays and 4:05 to take a 7-0 lead as QB Colt McCoy hit WR Jordan Norwood for a touchdown on third-and-10 from the Bengals' 24 .
McCoy was 3-of-5 for 68 yards on the drive. He also ran for eight yards. The big play was a 36-yard pass to a wide open Norwood which moved the ball to the Bengals' 24. Norwood was wide open, but after catching the ball near the sideline couldn't stay inbounds.
It was the Browns first, first quarter touchdown in 11 games.
The Browns came into the game having been outscored 58-9 in the first quarter. With the Bengals scoring with 21 seconds to play in the first quarter, the first quarter scoring is 65-16.
Hillis Back: After missing five weeks with a hamstring injury, RB Peyton Hillis was active and ready to play against the Bengals. Ironically, Hillis was declared out on Monday by Pat Shurmur. However, after making big improvement he was listed on Friday as a game-time decision. Hillis had 10 carries in the first half for 42 yards and finished with 19 carries for 65 yards. He also caught two passes.
Hardesty was active, but felt his leg tighten up in pregame and was held out. He had missed the last two games with a calf injury.
RB Cris Ogbonnaya started, but Hillis entered on the second play and picked up a first down with a four-yard run on his first carry. Ogbonnaya had three carries for 16 yards, including an 11-yard run. Hillis fumbled once, but Alex Smith was able to come out of the pile with the ball to prevent a disaster.
My Bad: QB Colt McCoy ran out of bounds short of a first down at the Browns' 10-yard line in the first quarter. The official gave him a good spot and a first down, but Marvin Lewis challenged and won forcing the Browns to punt. McCoy could've picked up the first by extending the ball ahead of him.
To start the fourth quarter, McCoy threw into double coverage and DB Reggie Nelson intercepted the pass at the Bengals' 46. The Bengals converted the turnover into a field goal to tie the game at 20-20.
McCoy finished 16-of-34 for 151 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. He ran six times for 38 yards and had a rating of 67.2.
Big Play Jordan: WR Jordan Norwood is turning into the Browns play maker at the receiver spot. He had three receptions for 67 yards in the first half, including a 24-yard touchdown. His first catch was a 36-yard pass that set up the touchdown. Norwood could've scored on the play as his defender fell down, but his momentum took him out of bounds. Norwood caught a pass for a first down with 14 seconds left in the first half to allow the Browns to attempt the pass to Little for the touchdown. Norwood finished with four receptions for 69 yards and a touchdown.
Bad Hagg: Rookie DB Eric Hagg made an enormous penalty after DB Mike Adams intercepted a pass and returned it inside the Bengals' 30 before he pitched it to DB Joe Haden and the Browns had the ball near the 20. However, Hagg was called for holding and the Bengals got the ball back with a first down.
However, shortly thereafter, the Browns recovered a fumble on the Bengals' 14 and scored a touchdown to make it 17-7.
Sack Time: After just missing QB Andy Dalton for a few sacks, LB Titus Brown sacked Dalton on third-and-12 in the second quarter for the team's first sack. DL Jabaal Sheard sacked Dalton near the end of the second quarter and the Browns turned it into a touchdown.
Patterson, Maiava Dinged: LB Kaluka Maiava was injured on a special teams play, while DB Dimitri Patterson was injured by friendly fire as DL Phil Taylor couldn't stop after chasing Dalton out of bounds and rolled up on Patterson's knee. Patterson just returned after missing a couple games with a knee injury. Patterson returned in the fourth quarter.
Little Drops and Scores: The only negative on the Browns opening drive was WR Greg Little dropped a pass right to him. The Browns lead the NFL with 30 dropped passes. Little had a 15-yard run after lining up as a running back. Little was a running back before being converted to wide receiver after his freshman season at North Carolina. In the second quarter, on third-and-6, Little dropped a pass from McCoy that hit him between the numbers on his jersey. Little dropped his third pass at the two-minute warning. Moments later, Little caught his first NFL touchdown pass from three-yards to give the Browns a 17-7 lead. He had three receptions for 23 yards in the first half, including the touchdown. Little finished with unofficially five dropped passes. He also led the Browns in receptions with five for 57 yards and a touchdown.
Long Range Phil: K Phil Dawson drilled a 54-yard field goal with 3:50 left in the third quarter to give the Browns a 20-10 lead. It was Dawson's seventh field goal from over 50 yards this season. Earlier, Dawson barely hooked a shorter field goal through the uprights. Dawson attempted a 55-yard field goal to give the Browns the lead, but a bad snap by LS Ryan Pontbriand set up a shank to the left.
Over Eager: Rookie DL Jabaal Sheard missed a sack on QB Andy Dalton in the first quarter as Sheard ran by Dalton, who ran to the one. In the second quarter, Sheard tackled RB Bernard Scott for a three-yard loss.
Sheard made a big play near the end of the first half as he strip-sacked Dalton and Scott Paxson recovered on the Bengals' 14 with 33 seconds left in the first half. Four plays later, QB Colt McCoy hit WR Greg Little in the corner of the end zone to make it 17-7 with just seven seconds to play in the half.