Week 2 Game Recap: Cleveland Browns 17, Cincinnati Bengals 34
What you need to know
The Browns struggled to establish the run, and never challenged the Bengals in this divisional matchup. Reuben Droughns gained just 32 yards on the ground on fourteen carries, one week after gaining a mere 27 yards rushing. Droughns did score a fourth quarter touchdown on a one yard plunge, a positive sign for those concerned about whether he would be replaced at the goal line. Both Jerome Harrison and Jason Wright were active, however they did not contribute any positive gains against the Bengals. Dennis Northcutt gained sixteen yards on an end around, while Charlie Frye scrambled for ten yards and a late touchdown in a lopsided game.
Utilizing a two tight end set and allowing Droughns to release into the flat for the occasional screen pass altered the Browns passing offense, which limited the pass rush on Charlie Frye and provided more time to find the open receiver. This change allowed Frye to complete 20 of 33 passes for 244 yards, despite two interceptions on tipped balls. This additional time allowed Frye the opportunity to look in the direction of Braylon Edwards more often. Edwards came up with a big 75 yard catch in the fourth quarter, dragging two defenders from the ten yard line. However, he came up just short while diving for the end zone. Kellen Winslow was targeted often again, however the Bengals made a clear effort to slow Winslow down, limiting him to four catches for 42 yards. Despite getting the start in the absence of Joe Jurevicius, Dennis Northcutt was not targeted much in this game, and finished with three catches for eighteen yards.
Despite the absence of T.J. Houshmandzadeh, the Bengals’ wide receiving corps were very good and helped deliver a big day as Carson Palmer finished with 352 yards by completing 24 of 40 passes. Palmer spread around two touchdowns to one interception (on a tipped pass) and showed his knee is healthy as he took a number of hard hits while being sacked four times. Though he wasn’t targeted in the first quarter, Chris Henry led the team with 113 yards on five catches and was targeted twelve times. Teammate Chad Johnson was also targeted twelve times and finished with six receptions for 78 yards and one score. Kelley Washington played an inspired game, finishing with 77 yards and a touchdown while hauling in five balls. Even Tab Perry saw relatively significant action, picking up 37 yards on three catches. The Bengals got tight end Reggie Kelly involved early, as he caught the first two balls of the game for 35 yards. Running back Rudi Johnson picked up two short catches for three yards.
Rudi Johnson was able to run at will against the Browns’ defense, especially as the game went on, finishing with 145 yards on twenty six carries and finding the end zone twice. This was especially impressive considering that left tackle Levi Jones was inactive for the game, and center Rich Braham departed with an injury early in the game. Kenny Watson added one carry for ten yards, and the Bengals utilized Tab Perry on the end around twice for four yards. Palmer officially had one yard on three carries.
What you ought to know
|QB Charlie Frye, Pass: 20 - 33 - 244 - 0 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 4 - 10 - 1|
In completing 60% of his passes for an average of 7.4 yard per passing attempt, Frye finished the game with a passer rating of 58.1, in large part due to two interceptions. The first interception was a poor decision on his part, trying to force the ball into the middle, and having it tipped at the line. The second interception bounced off of Droughns hands. Frye was also charged with a fumble, however this was due to the defensive penetration beating Frye to the point of the handoff.
Droughns averaged just 2.3 yards per carry, though did record his first touchdown of the season on a one yard carry. On successive first and goal plays from the one yard line (due to a penalty), Droughns was the featured back, and received the call on the second play call, successfully converting. After not being featured in the passing game in Week 1, Droughns was utilized in a variety of screen plays throughout the game, though on his final target, the ball bounced out of his hands and led to an interception.
Northcutt had a relatively quiet day, and received half of his targets in the fourth quarter after the game was clearly decided.
Edwards provided the only real highlight of the day, catching a long pass down the left sideline and dragging a pair of defenders from the ten yard line down to the one, coming up just short of the end zone on the 75 yard pass play. Edwards finished with over 100 yards and was the most targeted receiver, an encouraging sign of future success in this offense.
The Bengals tried to take away Kellen Winslow in this game and were aggressive in limiting his ability to get off the line of scrimmage. Winslow was still actively targeted, and was the intended receiver on Charlie Frye’s first interception despite being double covered short of the first down marker.
Heiden benefited from a large number of two tight end sets, aimed at providing Frye more protection and stabilizing the receiving corps in the absence of Joe Jurevicius.
Dawson connected on his only attempt of the day from thirty yards out.
The Browns’ rushing defense was shredded for 160 yards and two touchdowns by Rudi Johnson, a week after giving up big yardage to both Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush.
Though the Browns tried to shut down the pass, they failed, giving up over 350 yards through the air to Chad Johnson, Chris Henry, Kelley Washington and Tab Perry on passes from Carson Palmer. On the positive side, the pass rush was more effective in Week 2, picking up four sacks and leading to one interception.
|QB Carson Palmer, Pass: 24 - 40 - 352 - 2 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 3 - 1 - 0|
Palmer helped to answer any remaining critics with regards to his health and ability to take a hit, averaging 8.8 yards per passing attempt and completing 60% of his passes en route to an 84.6 passer rating. Palmer distributed the ball well, even without T.J. Houshmandzadeh, and looked very comfortable in the pocket.
|RB Rudi Johnson, Rush: 26 - 145 - 2, Rec: 2 - 3 - 0 (2 targets)|
Johnson averaged 5.6 yards per carry and scored on runs from one and nine yards out, both tallies coming in the second half, when he did the majority of his damage with 87 yards on fourteen carries for greater than six yards per attempt.
Johnson took a wicked hit from safety Brian Russell and had to have his bloody chin stitched up, though this did not keep him from having a solid game and tying for the team lead in targets despite going up against Leigh Bodden most of the game. Johnson made a nice catch in the corner of the end zone, keeping his feet in bounds, and celebrated with his rendition of the chicken dance.
Washington made a few nice moves to get away from the Browns defenders on his 22 yard touchdown, and came up with some nice grabs at other points throughout the game, gaining the trust of Palmer across the middle of the field.
|WR Tab Perry, Rush: 2 - 4 - 0, Rec: 3 - 37 - 0 (4 targets)|
In addition to his kick return duties, Perry saw some time in four wide receiver sets.
Though facing a multitude of legal problems off the field, Henry remained focused and came up with a big game in the absence of T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Henry was utilized as the deep threat down the sideline on numerous occasions throughout the game.
Houshmandzadeh was inactive for the second week in a row.
Kelly made two nice catches to start off the game, before reverting to his typical role as a pass blocker.
Graham missed his first attempt from 44 yards wide right, but responded with a pair of successful field goals from 37 yards out.
The Bengals shut down Reuben Droughns, and limited the Browns’ rushing game to just 57 yards, for which Dennis Northcutt and Charlie Frye contributed to nearly half of this output.
With two interceptions on tipped passes, the Bengals stopped the Browns’ passing game on all but one play, when Braylon Edwards went 75 yards down the sideline before being stopped at the one. The Bengals gave up 244 yards in a lopsided game, but kept the Browns from being able to consistently move the chains.