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Week 16 Game Recap: Cincinnati Bengals 18, Cleveland Browns 26
What you need to know
-What little offense the Bengals generated came mostly in garbage time. It was a 26-3 game with five minutes left before a pair of late touchdowns.
was excellent but couldnít make much headway against stacked boxes.
is the Bengals best healthy pass catcher and had a productive game, highlighted by a 14-yard touchdown grab.
The Browns completed a season sweep over the Bengals with a 26-18 win that wasn't as close as the final score indicates. Cincinnati scored with 4:56 left and then blocked a Cleveland punt after a three-and-out. A second touchdown pass to John Ross
followed, giving the Bengals 15 points in a two-minute span. Baker Mayfield
got off to a bit of a slow start in the game, misfiring on a few makeable passes, but overall his accuracy with the football showed through. Jarvis Landry
got in on the fun, firing a 63-yard strike to Breshad Perriman
on a gadget play.
|QB Jeff Driskel, 47 offensive snaps, Pass: 13 - 19 - 133 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 5 - 21 - 0|
The Bengals knew the Browns were going to mostly play with a single high safety and blitz on nearly every down but they still failed miserably to execute against the scheme. The first half was an unmitigated disaster for Driskel and the passing offense. He completed just two passes for a total of three yards while losing 18 yards on a pair of sacks. The passing offense netted -15 passing yards in the first half, though it was hard to fault Driskel. He had pressure in his face on nearly every drop back. He picked up positive yardage on a couple of early designed runs, as the Bengals finally took advantage of his speed. Driskelís worst throw of the day was an awful decision and the only reason it wasnít intercepted is that two Browns nearly collided as the ball hit one in the chest. Driskel was able to end the game on a positive note as he led a pair of touchdown drives late to bring the Bengals to within one score. He threw the ball with velocity and accuracy in the fourth quarter, fitting it in to some tight windows to C.J. Uzomah
and Alex Erickson
. Driskel hit Uzomah in the back corner of the end zone on a perfectly placed high throw that the big tight end went up and grabbed for a 14-yard touchdown. Driskel also bought time and rolled left before hitting John Ross
for a 3-yard touchdown.
|RB Joe Mixon, 38 offensive snaps, Rush: 17 - 68 - 0, Rec: 2 - 10 - 0 (2 targets)|
Mixon was again the centerpiece of the offense. His workload (19 touches) is much more impressive when considering the Bengals only managed 46 offensive plays and played most of the game trailing by multiple scores. It was often an all-or-nothing proposition for Mixon, which made it hard to string together first downs. He had six carries for no gain or negative yards and was often hit in the backfield. The Browns were stacking the box and bringing blitzes more often than not. On the other hand, he also broke off long runs of 15, 16 and 20 yards, showing the quick feet, loose hips, and easy acceleration that has made him so dangerous down the stretch. He also looked smooth on an 11-yard catch and run on a swing pass. Mixonís talent shone through in flashes but the Bengals were too often dominated in the trenches for the running game to really shine.
Bernard didnít get a single carry and didnít net any yards on his two catches (one for 4 yards and the other for -4). The Bengals clearly want Joe Mixon
to be the center-piece of the offense and in games like this one where they struggled to get Mixon 20 touches, there isnít going to be anything left over for Bernard.
|WR Alex Erickson, 32 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 35 - 0 (2 targets)|
Erickson got the start but wasnít targeted until late in the game. He did make the most of his opportunities, diving to make an impressive 28-yard catch down the side-line and also hauling in a 7-yard catch on a fourth-quarter touchdown drive.
|WR John Ross, 45 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 7 - 0, Rec: 1 - 3 - 1 (5 targets)|
Ross showed a little bit of toughness on an end around. He was met a few yards past the line of scrimmage but was able to twist and push his way for a gain of seven yards. His first target was uncatchable, thrown too high along the sideline. He had a bad drop on a ball straight through his hands on what would have been a short gain. Ross wasnít able to make the tough catch on a quick wide receiver screen that was thrown too high. In what has been a theme of late, Rossí only catch came on a short touchdown. He ran a slant route and then cut it back to the outside as Driskel rolled left and hit him for the 3-yard score. Despite another touchdown catch, it was telling that Ross wasnít a big factor even with the Bengals top three pass catchers all side-lined. A couple of the throws werenít great but the lack of efficiency ó pulling in just one of five targets ó was on Ross as well.
|WR Cody Core, 43 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 36 - 0 (3 targets)|
With the Bengals top two wide receivers sidelined, Core got the start outside across from John Ross
. He converted a third-and-17 with a 27-yard grab on a deep post. It was a better performance from Core but he is just a role player at best in the longer term
|TE C.J. Uzomah, 41 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 49 - 1 (5 targets)|
Uzomah is the best healthy pass catcher the Bengals have. He did well to haul in a 9-yard grab in traffic over the middle. Uzomah ran over cornerback Denzel Ward on his way to a 12-yard gain, knocking the rookie out of the game after he took the worst of it on his attempted tackle. The very next play, Uzomah went high over safety Jabrill Peppers in the back corner of the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown. Uzomah has been productive despite playing through a shoulder injury and should be in position to cash in with a nice contract as a free agent this March.
|QB Baker Mayfield, 69 offensive snaps, Pass: 27 - 37 - 284 - 3 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 6 - 16 - 0|
Mayfield turned in another fine performance, showing accuracy with the football and also outmaneuvering the Bengals defense with some timely audibles at the line. He got off to a bit of a slow start, missing an open David Njoku
too high on his first pass attempt of the game and almost throwing an interception when he led Jarvis Landry
too much on the second drive. He again struggled to connect with Landry on the ensuing drive, overthrowing the wide receiver down the left sideline. At the end of that drive, it appeared the Browns were going to try a quarterback sneak on 4th-and-1, but Mayfield didn't like something the defense was showing, so he audibled to a pass play, resulting in a six-yard completion to Landry for a first down. Mayfield's first touchdown pass was a perfectly placed three-yard end zone fade to David Njoku
. Mayfield put the ball high out of the defender's reach, allowing his athletic tight end to go up and high-point the ball for a score. His second touchdown came on the following drive. On Cincinnati's one-yard line, Mayfield took the snap and rolled right. He eventually hit tight end Darren Fells
for the one-yard score, fitting the pass into a tight window. In the third quarter, Mayfield took a deep, end zone shot to Breshad Perriman
. The defense made a good play on the ball to break up the pass. Mayfield threw his third and final touchdown pass on the first drive of the third quarter, although Rashard Higgins
did most of the heavy lifting. He found the receiver with a short pass in the middle of the field and Higgins did the rest, extending the ball to touch the pylon while diving for a 17-yard touchdown. Mayfield made a few impressive throws in the fourth quarter, including a back-shoulder dime to Duke Johnson
for a 16-yard gain and a 13-yard completion across his body while on the run to Landry. Mayfield now has 24 touchdown passes, two shy of the NFL rookie record held by Russell Wilson
and Peyton Manning
|RB Nick Chubb, 39 offensive snaps, Rush: 19 - 112 - 0, Rec: 2 - 3 - 0 (3 targets)|
While he didn't finish with a huge game, Chubb did solid work for the Browns, running hard and keeping the chains moving. While he didn't score in the game, Chubb saw several red zone chances and got close to scoring a few times. His first run went for a five-yard gain where he employed an excellent cutback from left-to-right to find a hole. At the end of the first drive, it appeared Chubb had rushed for a first down on 4th-and-1 but the play was nullified by an illegal shift penalty. Chubb ripped off a 22-yard gain on the third drive of the first quarter, his longest gain of the day. He looked explosive, breaking a Nick Vigil arm tackle on the run. A few of Chubb's red zone carries came at the end of that drive. He gained four yards on a 1st-and-goal from the Cincinnati nine-yard line. He stumbled at the end of that run or he might have found the end zone. Cleveland went right back to Chubb on the next play, which saw him gain two yards down to the Cincinnati three-yard line. The Browns wound up throwing for a touchdown at the end of that drive. At the beginning of the second quarter, Chubb came close to scoring again. He was pushed out of bounds at the Cincinnati one-yard line after a seven-yard gain. Both of Chubb's receptions came on the first drive of the fourth quarter, a one-yard gain and a two-yarder. The team has rediscovered Duke Johnson
over the past two weeks, which has cut into Chubb's passing game production.
|RB Duke Johnson, 32 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - 12 - 0, Rec: 6 - 54 - 0 (6 targets)|
Johnson has seen more work of late, pulling in 11 receptions over the past two games. His first touch was a 21-yard reception on a short toss from Baker Mayfield
. He broke several tackles on the play. He also added a four-yard reception on that same drive. In the fourth quarter, Johnson was the recipient of one of Mayfield's best throws, a 16-yard back-shoulder completion down the right sideline. Johnson's usage in the Cleveland offense has been hard to predict on a weekly basis but it appears they are trying to get him more involved in the game plan over the past two games.
Higgins turned in one of his best games of the season and made one of the plays of the game on his 17-yard touchdown reception. On the scoring play, he caught a short pass from Baker Mayfield
and took care of the rest on his own. As he raced toward the right pylon, he went airborne and was able to extend the ball out to knock over the pylon before tumbling out of bounds. He could have had a much bigger game but he had a 55-yard reception overturned after a questionable offensive pass interference call. It looked like he slightly pushed off against the defender but it didn't appear to merit a flag.
|WR Jarvis Landry, 58 offensive snaps, Pass: 1 - 1 - 63 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - 6 - 0, Rec: 4 - 47 - 0 (8 targets)|
Landry turned in another slow day as he just isn't seeing the target volume that he was earlier in the season. He and Mayfield had trouble connecting at the beginning of the game, with Mayfield overthrowing him on his first target and leading him too much on the ensuing target. Landry's arm led to his biggest play of the game. The Browns ran a gadget play where Antonio Callaway
took a handoff and pitched it to Landry, who fired a 63-yard strike downfield to Breshad Perriman
. It was a perfect throw to the open Perriman. On the first drive of the third quarter, Landry made a great over the shoulder catch down the right sideline, going for 19 yards. He was closely covered on the play. His final catch was a 14-yard gain on 3rd-and-19 which gave the Browns better field goal position. While Landry isn't feasting on high volume, he retains some upside as the No. 1 option in an up-and-coming Cleveland passing attack.
Perriman had a big day, thanks to being on the receiving end of a 63-yard bomb thrown by Jarvis Landry
on a gadget play. He followed that up with a 13-yard diving catch on the right side. In the third quarter, he drew an end zone target but he was closely covered and the pass was broken up by a defender. He came close to making another splash play in the fourth quarter but he couldn't get both of his feet down inbounds after a deep completion. Perriman appears to have found a home in Cleveland as their situational deep threat.
|TE David Njoku, 40 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 73 - 1 (4 targets)|
Njoku saw the first target of the game but it was thrown too high for him as the pass glanced off of his fingertips on a leaping attempt. He found the end zone on a three-yard reception where he high-pointed a pass from Baker Mayfield
. After the catch, the Cincinnati defender wanted a flag on Njoku for pushing off but he didn't get one. In the fourth quarter he drew another end zone target but the play was nullified by an offensive holding penalty. Even if there was no penalty, the pass was too high for him to catch. Njoku helped ice the game for the Browns with a 66-yard catch-and-run at the end of the fourth quarter. He caught a short pass and took off down the field, ultimately getting tackled at the Cincinnati three-yard line. He broke an initial tackle at the catch point, which helped lead to the long gain.