Cleveland, OH– The Cincinnati Bengals (5-7-1) opened up a 20-0 lead in the first half and cruised to their second straight win, a 23-10 victory over the winless Cleveland Browns (0-13) on Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium.
The Bengals got off to a hot start despite the frigid, snowy conditions on the banks of Lake Erie. Jeremy Hill‘s one-yard scoring plunge was sandwiched in between a pair of touchdown tosses from Andy Dalton to Tyler Eifert as Cincinnati had as many touchdowns (3) as the Browns did first downs in the first two quarters of the Battle of Ohio.
Making his first start since week one due to injury, Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III was the 17th Browns’ signal-caller to face a Marvin Lewis-led Bengals’ team but was largely ineffective, completing just 12 of 28 passes for 104 yards.
The lone turnover of the game was a poorly-thrown flea flicker by Griffin with the Browns backed up at their own one-yard line. The deep heave was forced into triple coverage and safety George Illoka hauled it in and added a 21-yard return. Illoka is now tied with Dre Kirkpatrick for the team lead in picks.
Less than three minutes later, Dalton hit Eifert on third and goal from five yards out to extend Cincinnati’s lead to 20.
Dalton’s streak of 12 consecutive games with over 200 yards passing came to an end, but he posted a 112.2 passer rating, completing 20 of 28 for 180 yards and two touchdowns. He’s now attempted 116 passes without an interception and improved his career record vs. Cleveland to 9-3.
Hill, who managed just 1.4 yards per carry in the win over Philadelphia last week, ran for 111 yards and a score. His 28 rushing touchdowns since 2014 are the most in the NFL in that span. Both of his century mark outings this season have been against the Browns and he’s now ran for 357 yards (119 per game) and four touchdowns in three career trips to Cleveland.
At 788 rushing yards this season, Hill needs to average 70 yards per game over the last three weeks to tally his second 1,000-yard campaign of his career.
Cleveland was kept alive in the game by the running game. Isaiah Crowell notched his third 100-yard outing of the season, running for 113 on just 10 attempts.
Crowell ran for 48 yards on Cleveland’s best drive of the game. A 10-play scoring march in the third quarter that was capped off by a one-yard touchdown run by Griffin — his first score since 2014 — that made it 20-7.
Cody Parkey added a 30-yard field goal to make it 20-10 just 46 seconds into the fourth quarter, but back to back sacks by Geno Atkins on Cleveland’s next possession ultimately put the game away.
It was Atkins’ fifth career multi-sack performance, his first since last year’s win over the 49ers. His two sacks tied him with Eddie Edwards for second on the Bengals’ all-time sacks list.
The weekly struggles remain for Bengals’ kicker Mike Nugent. After Hill’s score in the first quarter, a bad hold by punter Kevin Huber resulted in a PAT that never really left the ground. The Bengals drove 45 yards over 11 plays to end the first half, but Nugent pushed a 36-yarder wide right.
Nugent did cap off the game’s scoring with his longest field goal since September, a 44-yarder with 8:38 left in the game.
Rookie Tyler Boyd was Cincinnati’s leading receiver, catching six passes for 49 yards and added a 39-yard run, the team’s longest since the last meeting with Cleveland on Oct. 23rd.
Over their current five-game winning streak in the rivalry, the Bengals have outscored the Browns 132-40.
The win moved Marvin Lewis past George Allen — the architect of the Washington Redskins‘ “Over the Hill Gang” that lost Super Bowl VII to the undefeated Dolphins — for 29th on the NFL’s all-time wins list.
At 5-7-1, the Bengals host the red-hot Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5) next Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium at 1:00 p.m (flexed from prime time).