The final score, a 27-19 Browns win, may indicate the Bengals were never in the game to begin with, but a look at the box score paints a different picture.
On the opening drive, the Bengals drove down the field in style. Cincinnati had three plays go for over 11 yards, unfortunately, their opening drive ended in a field goal. On came the Browns, shredding the Bengals secondary, until Baker Mayfield threw his first of two interceptions. Nick Vigil gave the Bengals an opportunity to add to their lead, but a minute and 43 seconds later, Andy Dalton threw a 61-yard touchdown pass to Denzel Ward, a Browns cornerback.
While the outcome of the game doesn’t rest solely on Dalton’s shoulders, he made critical mistakes at the wrong time. Several near interceptions, intentional groundings, sacks, and missed passes hurt the Bengals. Five red zone trips resulted in only one touchdown.
The Bengals 272 passing yards, 179 rushing yards, and 186 scrimmage yards from Joe Mixon were put to waste. Red zone offense has been the story of the Bengals offense all year. They build up momentum and get into the red zone, only to kick a field goal, turn the ball over on downs, or fumble the ball away.
The Bengals defense held the Browns to 333 yards. However, the tables turned for the least penalized team in the league. The Bengals had eight penalties for 99 yards, several of them were illegal blocks in the back on long rushes and on special teams. The Browns, the most penalized team, only had six penalties for 30 yards. The Bengals held Odell Beckham Jr. to 39 yards on five targets. William Jackson III stuck with him throughout the game.
Up next the Bengals host the Patriots in Cincinnati.