Bengals Mauling Browns at Half

A weak first-half performance in front of a sparse crowd is how the 2008 home season closes down. Fred Greetham is witnessing it, and offers his halftime report...

CLEVELAND—In windy, frigid Cleveland Browns Stadium, two teams playing out the season battled.

In futility, but they battled.

Through the first half, it appears the Bengals want it more as they lead 14-0 at the half. The Bengals took advantage of the Browns lack of offense and Cedric Benson rushed for over 100 yards in the first half. Benson wasn't with the Bengals when the two teams played earlier this season.

Meanwhile, the Browns offense kept their streak of not scoring a touchdown intact and extended it to 18 quarters.

Enough said.

The Bengals took a 7-0 lead with 8:30 to play in the first quarter as Leon Hall stepped in front of Braylon Edwards and raced 50 yards for a touchdown with 8:30 to play in the first quarter. The Browns had been moving the ball with Josh Cribbs picking up 23 yards on three carries before Ken Dorsey threw a wobbly pass that Hall picked off.

The Bengals extended their lead to 14-0 as Fitzpatrick hit Chris Henry from 20 yards out with 8:02 to play in the first half. Henry beat Wright as the Bengals went 89 yards in 15 plays, while holding the ball for 8:36. On the drive, the Bengals were five-of-five on third down.

Just before the half the Bengals moved to the Browns' 31, but Shayne Graham's 49-yard field goal attempt with 1:08 to play was way short.

Dorsey completed a short pass to Jason Wright and a 12-yarder to Braylon Edwards to the Bengals' 42. However, a sack by Chinedum Ndukwe ended the Browns threat.

Notebook

Offense Ineptness Continues: The Browns offense has now gone four-and-a-half games (18 quarters) without scoring a touchdown. The Browns were going to go for it on fourth-and-one from their own 49 in the first quarter, but OL Eric Steinbach was flagged for a false start and the Browns punted. The last time the Browns scored a touchdown from the offensive side of the ball was on RB Jerome Harrison's 72-yard touchdown against the Bills to start the fourth quarter on Nov. 17. QB Ken Dorsey was 2-of-4 for 8 yards with one interception and a whopping 16.7 rating with 1:08 to play in the first half. He completed three passes in the final 1:08 and finished the first half 5-of-9 for 32 yards and a 23.6 rating.RB Jamal Lewis had nine carries for 37 yards. WR Braylon Edwards had two receptions for 16 yards, while RB Jason Wright had three receptions for 16 yards.

Back to Mistake Ball: After playing several games with few penalties, the Browns reverted to making many costly penalties at crucial times throughout the first half. The Browns had six penalties for 40 yards to none for the Bengals.

Wright Stuff: DB Eric Wright ran down RB Cedric Benson from behind after Benson ran 46 yards and caused him to fumble, which he recovered at the 26. The takeaway by Wright was the team's 30th of the season to lead the NFL.

Willie's Drop: LB Willie McGinest had a sure touchdown on an interception to open the second quarter as QB Ryan Fitzpatrick threw a pass right to him, but he couldn't hang on.

Flash Package: WR/KR Josh Cribbs took two snaps for nine yards and first down on the Browns' opening possession. He then took a reverse for 14 yards on the first down play. Cribbs picked up 23 yards on three successive plays before the Browns went back to the convention offense and Dorsey threw the pick six.

Braylon's Day: WR Braylon Edwards had a reception for a first down, but was flagged for pass interference negating the reception and first down. He had one reception for four yards in the first half.

Cedric's Entertainment: RB Cedric Benson carried the ball four straight times to open the game and he wasn't even on the Bengals the first time the two teams played. Benson had a 46-yard run, but fumbled on the play. He had 64 yards in the first quarter and 22 carries for 118 yards in the first half.

Vickers Hurt: FB Lawrence Vickers became the second player to get injured in the pregame. Vickers had back spasms and FB Charles Ali started in his place. Prior to the season opener, WR Donte Stallworth pulled a quad muscle and missed five games.

Inactives: For the Browns: TE Kellen Winslow, DL Shaun Smith, LB Leon Williams, DB Travis Daniels, RB Allen Patrick, WR Paul Hubbard, DB Hamza Abdullah and TE John Madsen. DL Louis Leonard started in place of Smith.

For the Bengals: WR Chad Ocho Cinco, QB Carson Palmer (third QB), CB Simeon Castille, RB Kenny Watson, G Evan Mathis, OT Levi Jones, TE Ben Utecht and WR Jerome Simpson.


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