The running of William Green, sloppy play from the Cincinnati Bengals, stiff defense, and a number of shining moments in the passing game combined to give the Browns a 34-17 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. The win evened the Browns record to 3-3 and keeps the season from sliding out-of-control with the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles set to invade CBS next week.
Green received the start and displayed again the tough running he flashed against the Pittsburgh Steelers the week before. Amassing 115 yards on 25 carries, Green received two-thirds of the carries against the Bengals.
He deserved them.
Showing better ability to wait for blocks to develop than in weeks past, the Browns running back was effective running both inside and getting to the corner.
Green split carries with Lee Suggs, whose final totals of 19 yards on 13 carries was held down due to being penalized nineteen yards for a fumble in the first half. Suggs contribution was most evident in the passing game, particularly on a 59-yard pass play in the fourth quarter which helped to ice the game for the Browns. Suggs, matched up against a linebacker, exploded past Bengals defensive backs like a wide receiver.
The Browns offensive ineptitude in the first half was made a memory quickly, as Jeff Garcia and Andre Davis struck for 99 yards in one play on their second possession. The long touchdown was the first time the Browns offense had scored in the first half all season.
The Browns drove down the field on their third possession of the game as well, moving 56 yards on 10 plays, culminating in a ten-yard pass to Quincy Morgan as second quarter began.
Then, however, fans saw the split-personality Browns offense go from Mr. Hyde to Dr. Jekyll as the Browns offense self-destructed on three consecutive drives in the second quarter. An arguable Lee Suggs fumble on the Browns 23 was run back for a touchdown by Keith Kaesviharn, cutting the lead to 14-7. The Bengals tied it up three plays after a Tory James interception of Jeff Garcia to knot it at 14 apiece, and the Browns fell behind the Bengals 17-14 four plays after a Garcia fumble at the Browns 20.
The Browns roared back as the first half closed, however, as RB William Green played a central role on a 13-play, 79-yard drive which ended in a five-yard pass to TE Aaron Shea as time expired. Firing up the CBS crowd before halftime, Shea leaped into the Dawg Pound and the Browns went to the locker room on top once more, 21-17.
After the wild, if sloppy, first half, the second half had a slower pace of play as the turnovers decreased and both defenses stiffened. QB Carson Palmer, who had 44 yards passing in the first half, continued to struggle as the game went into the third and fourth quarters. Palmer finished with only 148 yards, which includes a number of garbage-time yards with the Browns up seventeen in the fourth quarter. Palmer wasn't helped at all by inept Bengals receivers, who dropped passes all day long.
Chad Johnson, the Bengals star WR, managed only 37 yards on three catches.
Perhaps rather than giving the Browns defensive backs Pepto-Bismol, Bengals
WR Chad Johnson should have given out No-Doz instead.
Jeff Garcia, despite some mistakes in the second quarter, wound up with his best game in a Browns uniform. Garcia wound up 16-for-23 passing for 310 yards, with four touchdowns and two interceptions.
ONE MORE FOR THE RECORD: Lost among the glittering numbers put up by the Browns offensive stars today is another excellent effort by placekicker Phil Dawson. The Browns kicker nailed two more field goals, running his streak to 23 consecutive successful conversions. The streak ties him with PK Matt Stover, who also kicked 23 straight field goals in 1994-5.
SUGGS AIR: Browns RB Lee Suggs wound up with 100 yards receiving on five passes, making him the first Browns running back to hit the century mark through the air since Eric Metcalf in 1993.
BELL RUNG: During the disputed fumble by Lee Suggs, which led to a Bengals touchdown, OG Kelvin Garmon suffered a concussion and was announced as questionable to return. Melvin Fowler replaced Garmon, but the Browns right guard returned several plays later. Garmon left the game later due to a problem with his right leg.
ONLY ONE CENTURY: Against the Bengals, Andre Davis was attempting to become the first Browns wide receiver in fifteen years to go over 100 yards for two straight game. His case wasn't helped early on when he waved weakly at a Jeff Garcia pass that was eventually intercepted by the Bengals Tory James.
But Davis got nearly all he needed on a thrilling 99-yard touchdown pass off of play-action in the first quarter. The pass was the longest in Browns history, eclipsing a record 97-yard touchdown reception by Bernie Kosar and Webster Slaughter in 1989. Unfortunately, Davis left shortly thereafter due to a sprained left big toe, and wound up one yard shy of the mark.