CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Browns beat the Cincinnati Bengals 32-13 in Cleveland’s “Monday Football Night” — their absence of injured wide receiver Jamal Chase — dominated the defense .
On Halloween night, the Browns finally came to life.
Cleveland buried Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow on the way to the title, putting its moribund season into bye week.
The Bengals entered “Monday Night Football” with a 41-point streak. But the Browns’ defense suddenly recovered, breaking that streak and leaving Cincinnati scoreless in the first half. The Bengals defense also didn’t allow touchdowns in the second half of the season. But Cleveland put the game out of reach with touchdowns on both of its first two possessions after halftime.
The Browns (3-5) still have work to do to get back into the AFC playoffs. But the win means their season is far from over.
Buy breakout performance: The Browns entered the week 30th in defensive efficiency. But after a solid performance in last weekend’s loss to Baltimore, Cleveland’s defense finally lived up to preseason expectations. Talent is never an issue. The Browns may have discovered the missing chemistry and cohesion.
Eye-popping next-gen stats: Browns QB Jacoby Brissett averaged 3.24 seconds of throw time per pass. As a result, he completed 17 of 22 passes for 278 yards, including 259 with at least 2.5 seconds left.
Bold predictions for next week: After a week of trade rumors surrounding running back Kareem Hunter, the Browns won’t trade him before Tuesday’s trade deadline. Monday’s loss could prompt Cleveland to trade Hunter to the final year of the deal in exchange for a final-round pick. The way Cleveland’s offense and Hunter played a big part in the win over the Bengals should be enough to convince the Browns to spend the rest of the season with him. – Jack Trotter
Underrated stats to know: With Miles Garrett’s first-half sack, he became the first Browns player to have at least 65 sacks since the official tally in 1982.
Next game: At the Dolphins (November 13 at 1 p.m. ET)
A loss to the Browns will hurt Cincinnati’s chances of repeating as the division champion as the Bengals battle the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC North. Not only did Cincinnati (4-4) lose, but they were battered in the loss and didn’t feel as close as the final score would suggest.
Last season, the Bengals swept Baltimore and Pittsburgh 4-2 in the AFC North. A fifth straight loss to Cleveland in the series between the two teams lowered Cincinnati’s turnover rate for the remainder of the season.
Describe the game in two words: brutal performance. Cincinnati’s night got off to a bad start, the entire game fell apart, and the Bengals never even competed with struggling Cleveland.
QB decomposition: Without Chase, Cincinnati’s offense was like a struggling team early in the season. Unlike last week’s game against the Atlanta Falcons, Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow was limited in the frontcourt. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, 15 of Burrow’s first 21 attempts were for 10 yards or fewer. When the game was in balance, Burrow took a couple of shots in the frontcourt. But whether it’s Chase’s absence or other reasons, neither Burrow nor the offense.
Key gameplay: Garrett once again caused trouble for Cincinnati. In the Bengals’ first game, things were promising until Garrett sank off the scrimmage line and hit the cave pass into the air. Browns cornerback AJ Green III intercepts the deflection. From there, the Bengals kept playing on the back foot and never recovered.
Vulnerabilities in the game plan: For all the chatter about Cleveland’s offense, it was backup quarterback Brissett who ignited Cincinnati’s defense through the air. At one point, the Browns were averaging 9.2 yards per pass attempt. Cincinnati’s effort took a big hit when cornerback Chidobe Awuzie left the game with a right knee injury at the end of the first half. Rookie Cam Taylor-Britt, the team’s second-round pick this year, made his first NFL start against Awuzie. – this baby
Underrated stats to know: In each of the past three games against the Browns, Burrow has an interception in each of the opening games.
Next game: Versus the Panthers (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)