With nothing on the line but pride, the Browns fell to the Bengals by a score of 33-23. It appeared as if there was very little fight in this team in what may have very well been Freddie Kitchen’s final game.
A nice return from D’Ernest Johnson set the Browns up with great field position and Baker Mayfield quickly capitalized with a 46-yard touchdown strike to Damion Ratley.
It didn’t take long for the Bengals to answer when Joe Mixon broke through several Browns arm tackles on his way to a 56-yard touchdown run, putting him over 1,000 yards on the season. Cleveland failed to get anything going on the following drive, but a rocket of a punt from Jamie Gillan pinned Cincinnati deep.
Joe Mixon helped get the Bengals off the goal line, but they were forced to punt thanks to some big plays from Damarious Randall. On the next drive, Baker was looking for Jarvis Landry on 3rd and 10, and was intercepted by Darius Phillips, and returned it inside the Cleveland 5-yard line. Joe Mixon scored his second touchdown of the day a few plays later and a missed extra point left the score 13-7.
After a penalty riddled drive stalled Cleveland’s next series, Andy Dalton was able to drive the Bengals and scramble in to take a commanding 20-7 lead early in the second quarter.
Odell Beckham Jr and Jarvis Landry both had great catches on a must score drive for Cleveland that led to an Austin Seibert 42-yard field goal. The defense was finally able to come up with a big stop giving the ball back to Baker with just over 2-minutes left. He put the Browns right back in it with a touchdown to Jarvis, but Seibert missed the try after to make it 16-20.
Cincinnati started off the second half with the ball and quickly moved into Browns territory thanks to a long screen to Mixon and a crossing route to Tyler Eifert. The Bengals ultimately settled for a field goal taking a touchdown lead.
On Cleveland’s first drive of the half, Baker tossed up a prayer on third and long and Darius Phillips came up with his second pick of the day. Denzel Ward answered that with a quick interception of his own in the endzone.
The Browns once again failed to get moving offensively, but Jamie Gillan delivered another great punt. Greedy Williams, who struggled all game, was flagged for a critical pass interference and Dalton found John Ross for a big play across the middle to end the third quarter. Joe Mixon dove in from two yards out a few plays later for his second touchdown of the day.
Down 14 points, Baker Mayfield led a passion-fueled drive that included a hard-nosed scramble on third down. The Bengals forced Cleveland into 4th and goal from the 20-yard line and Baker found OBJ for one of the best catches of the NFL season.
Andy Dalton was able to run over five minutes off the clock before a Randy Bullock field goal at the 2-minute warning pushed the lead to 33-23. Baker marched the Browns to midfield before throwing his third interception to definitively end the game.
The next 24 hours will be filled with frustration and quite possibly changes to the coaching staff and or front office. Stay tuned to BrownsAccess for the latest news on the looming decisions.