Week 14 Game Recap: Cleveland Browns 20, Cincinnati Bengals 23
What you need to know
The Browns played an inspired game, and challenged the Bengals until the final seconds of the game, when Shayne Graham kicked a 37 yard field goal to end the Browns’ hopes of an upset. Charlie Frye completed 16 of 24 passes for 138 yards, with one passing touchdown and one interception. With Braylon Edwards sidelined for the remainder of the season, Antonio Bryant was thrust back into spotlight and responded with four catches for 48 yards. Inserted back into the starting lineup, Dennis Northcutt caught three balls for 29 yards. Tight end Steve Heiden played an integral role, and caught Frye’s lone touchdown pass, finishing the day with three catches for 27 yards. Frye continued his pattern of limiting his passes to his running backs, with Reuben Droughns catching just one ball for four yards and Lee Suggs adding two catches for thirteen yards.
Despite leading throughout much of the game, the Browns had less success on the ground than they had experienced in previous weeks. Reuben Droughns shook off the questionable label, started, and finished with 74 yards on 21 carries. Lee Suggs saw his first carry of the season, which went for a four yard loss. William Green was deactivated and did not dress for the Browns. Cleveland added on a rushing touchdown on the ground when Charlie Frye scrambled for a three yard touchdown when he couldn’t find an open receiver and was able to outrun the Bengals’ defenders and dive into the end zone. Frye officially gained fourteen yards on four attempts.
The Bengals were considerably more effective on the ground than through the air in this game, but came through in the second half with timely plays to maintain their lead in the AFC North. Carson Palmer found the Browns to be a formidable opponent, and completed just 13 of his 27 passes for only 93 yards on the afternoon for his lowest total of the season, with one touchdown and one interception. Chad Johnson was the most targeted receiver for the Bengals on the afternoon, and was at the middle of a number of key plays, especially at the end of the game, but finished with only two catches for 22 yards. T.J. Houshmandzadeh stepped up and caught six balls for 53 yards and the Bengals’ sole touchdown through the air. Reggie Kelly caught two balls from the tight end position, while running back Rudi Johnson added three catches for eleven yards out of the backfield.
Rudi Johnson was dominant in the rushing game, especially in the first half, in which he already crossed the century mark. With thirty carries on the day, Johnson finished with 169 yards and one touchdown for his best mark of the season. Chris Perry saw three carries early in the game, but injured his ankle and had to be carted off the field in the first half. Carson Palmer officially had one carry for one yard versus the Browns.
What you ought to know
|QB Charlie Frye, Pass: 16 - 24 - 138 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 4 - 14 - 1|
Frye completed 67% of his passes with an average of 5.8 yard per passing attempt on the afternoon en route to a 78.1 passer rating versus the Bengals. Frye exhibited good leadership, helping his team jump out to an early start, but for the second time in as many starts was unable to hold onto the lead. Frye showed good accuracy, and good poise in the pocket, with the ability to scramble and make a play with his feet after the play broke down and/or his wide receiving crew of Antonio Bryant and Dennis Northcutt did not get open. Frye’s biggest play of the day was a three yard touchdown scramble after looking at least four receivers before taking off towards the center of the field and diving into the end zone.
Droughns averaged 3.5 yards per carry, but failed to show the same power he had exhibited in previous weeks, perhaps due to his lingering knee injury. The switch at quarterback has had a negative effect on his opportunity to catch balls out of the backfield, as he was targeted only once this week.
|RB Lee Suggs, Rush: 1 - -4 - 0, Rec: 2 - 13 - 0 (2 targets)|
Suggs saw an expanded role versus previous weeks, but had just three touches on the afternoon, though receiving his first carry of the season, where he was tackled in the backfield for a four yard loss.
Asked again to be the primary playmaker, Bryant was unable to create the separation necessary to make the big play versus the ballhawk defense of the Bengals. Bryant caught everything thrown his way, but does not the same rapport with Charlie Frye that Braylon Edwards was showing before Edwards was injured.
Northcutt caught all three passes thrown his way, but seems better suited to the role of a slot and third down receiver, allowing him to provide a greater spark on special teams and opportunities over the center of the field to pick up big yards after the catch.
Jackson played an increased role with the injury to Braylon Edwards, but failed to catch a pass on the afternoon. Jackson was the intended recipient on Frye’s interception.
Heiden caught Frye’s lone touchdown pass and continues to play a big part of the Browns offense. As the primary pass catching tight end, it is expected the Browns will continue to utilize him in the passing game over the remainder of the season as one of Frye’s primary targets.
Dawson connected on field goals of 29 and 41 yards and made both extra point attempts.
The Browns rushing defense struggled mightily in the first half where Rudi Johnson was able to run on the defense at will. The Bengals finished the day with 185 yards on the ground and wore down the Browns who were unable to come up with a response to the Bengals rushing attack.
The Browns focused on shutting down the passing game, and especially Chad Johnson, which they were able to successfully do, limiting the Bengals to just 97 yards passing, but discovered this was not enough to win. While they put significant pressure on Carson Palmer for most of the afternoon, the Browns were unable to pick up a sack, but did pick off one pass.
|QB Carson Palmer, Pass: 13 - 27 - 93 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 1 - 1 - 0|
Palmer had his least effective game of the season, completing just 48% of his passes for an average of 3.4 yards per passing attempt and a passer rating of 53.5 against the Browns. Palmer saw a considerable pass rush all afternoon long, and found himself throwing the ball away quite often, leading to his low completion percentage on the afternoon. While he did throw a number of passes away on purpose, Palmer seemed especially conservative with his passes, throwing a number of passes low where only his receiver would have a chance of catching him, though most of those falling incomplete.
|RB Rudi Johnson, Rush: 30 - 169 - 1, Rec: 3 - 11 - 0 (3 targets)|
Johnson had his biggest game of the season, wearing down the Browns with a 5.6 yard average per rushing attempt on the afternoon. Johnson broke off a 32 yard long on the afternoon, but had a number of long runs on the afternoon that went for first downs. With the Browns focused on shutting down the passing game, Johnson took advantage of this and ran through big holes all day long.
Perry injured his ankle on a passing play and had to be carted off the field.
Houshmandzadeh provided the biggest spark in the passing game, catching everything thrown his way and proving to be the only Bengals’ wide receiver to create significant separation on the afternoon.
Johnson only caught two passes on the afternoon, and saw physical coverage all day long, but came up with a key defensive pass interference late in the game to put the Bengals in field position to win the game. Johnson left the game early after a hard hit, but quickly returned to the field, with no lingering effects observed.
While he was active and in the game for three wide receiver sets, Henry was not targeted on the afternoon.
With the Bengals focused on beating the Browns with the running game, Kelly was on the field for more formations than usual, and picked up a pair of catches as a result.
Graham kicked the winning field from the right hash mark from 37 yards out to add to an already perfect afternoon which consisted previously of 21 and 27 yard field goals plus two successful extra points.
The Bengals did a solid job of preventing the Browns from making any big plays in either the rushing or passing game, and kept Reuben Droughns under his season averages, in terms of both yards per carry and yards per game.
The Bengals' ballhawk secondary had just one interception on the afternoon, but limited Charlie Frye and the Browns depleted receiving corps to just 138 yards, with no pass going for more than seventeen yards. The Bengals added two sacks on the afternoon and created a number of different looks aimed at confusing the rookie quarterback.