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Week 12 Game Recap: Cleveland Browns 35, Cincinnati Bengals 20
What you need to know
The Browns ripped the Bengals in Week 12, putting the game out of reach by halftime. Baker Mayfield
played his best game as a pro, repeatedly escaping pressure and firing accurate strikes downfield while on the run. If the Cincinnati offense had been able to keep up on the scoreboard, this could have been a huge day for the Cleveland offense. Instead, they went into clock-killing mode, attempting just four second-half passes. Nick Chubb
's yards per carry average doesn't look great but he continually ran into stacked boxes in the second half as the Bengals knew Cleveland was just trying to run clock. One thing becoming apparent is that Chubb continues to be much better than advertised in the passing game.
was lost for the season with a thumb injury.
played well, showing off his athleticism and big arm in releif.
dominated the running back touches despite a game script that should have favored Giovani Bernard
was fantastic, showing WR1 skills in AJ Greenís absence.
|QB Baker Mayfield, 64 offensive snaps, Pass: 19 - 26 - 258 - 4 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 4 - -4 - 0|
Mayfield put on a show in Cincinnati. The rookie quarterback spent much of the first half firing strikes to his receivers. He was excellent in the pocket, repeatedly moving away from pressure while throwing accurate passes on the run. Mayfield was also excellent in the play action game, selling run fakes and making the defense pay with accurate passes. Mayfield's first touchdown was a 13-yard strike to Antonio Callaway
, thrown while on the move. David Njoku
did most of the work on Mayfield's second TD toss, catching a short pass and muscling his way into the end zone (helped by a push from some of his offensive linemen) for a six-yard score. Mayfield's third score was a terrific pass and catch as he threw a high lob to a closely covered Nick Chubb
. Chubb went up over the back of a Cincinnati defender, snatching the ball off of the defender's helmet. With the Browns holding a 28-7 lead, Mayfield was only asked to throw four passes in the second half. One of those passes was a six-yard touchdown to tight end Darren Fells
. Mayfield showed excellent patience as he waited for Fells to cross the back of the end zone from left to right. He then fired a pin-point pass over the head of a defender for the score. Mayfield has really flourished under new offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens. His ability to escape and accuracy while throwing on the run has become a problem for opposing defenses.
|RB Nick Chubb, 46 offensive snaps, Rush: 28 - 84 - 1, Rec: 3 - 44 - 1 (3 targets)|
Chubb's final yards per carry numbers don't look pretty but the Browns went into a run-heavy, clock-killing approach in the second half. Cincinnati's defense knew what was coming at that point and was able to stack the box against Chubb. The rookie running back continues to impress, showing explosiveness and tackle-breaking ability. He also continues to be better than many expected as a pass-catcher. The first play of the game was a 23-yard reception to Chubb. His touchdown reception was the catch of the game as he went over the back of a Bengals defender who was covering him closely. Chubb leapt up and snatched the ball off of the defender's helmet before falling backward into the end zone. Chubb also had a one-yard touchdown run earlier in the game in which he followed Joel Bitonio's pulling block up the middle for the score. Chubb was mostly bottled up in the second half but he did rip off a 27-yard gain in the fourth quarter where he employed a nice stutter behind the line before taking off up the left sideline. Having proven his value in the passing game, Chubb has entrenched himself as one of the top young running backs in the league. He will continue to be a fantasy difference-maker down the stretch.
|RB Duke Johnson, 18 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - 16 - 0, Rec: 1 - 23 - 0 (2 targets)|
Johnson had a quiet game, mostly because the Browns had a big 28-7 lead at halftime and only threw the ball four times in the second half. This is the sort of game script that neutralizes a pass-catching specialist such as Johnson. His first touch came on a pitch left which saw him gain three yards. Later on the same drive he caught a 23-yard pass off of play action. On the third drive of the first quarter, Johnson saw a red zone target right in front of the Cincinnati goal line. The ball was thrown too high and a bit too hard for Johnson to corral it. It is unlikely he would have made it into the end zone even if the pass was catchable as there were defenders closing in on him as soon as the ball got there. At the end of the second quarter, Johnson took a delayed handoff for a 13-yard gain. Despite the slow game, Johnson's rest of the season outlook looks bright as the new coaching staff has been using him more than the previous one was.
Callaway turned in a big game for the Browns, with his 62 yards being the most he's gained since Week 2. In the first quarter, he caught a 13-yard touchdown from Baker Mayfield
in the back left corner of the end zone on a perfect pass. He came back on the next drive to make an excellent catch on the right sideline, which went for a 21-yard gain. He did a nice job getting both feet down in bounds on the play. In the second quarter he drew a deep target down the middle of the field but the pass was overthrown. Callaway didn't do much in the second half as the Browns threw the ball just four times. Callaway, like most young rookies, is going to be inconsistent but he has shown enough flashes to show why the Browns were high on him in the draft.
|WR Jarvis Landry, 39 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 30 - 0 (5 targets)|
Landry was the only Cleveland offensive star who didn't get in on the first half scoring. The veteran receiver had another low-volume day, catching just three of his five targets. Landry has shown over his career that he needs high volume to post numbers but Baker Mayfield
has really been spreading the ball around over the past few games instead of just locking onto Landry, which was happening earlier in the year. It also didn't help Landry's case that the Browns built a 28-7 lead by halftime and only passed the ball four times in the second half. Landry drew a deep target on the second drive of the game but the pass was thrown too low for him to catch. His first catch came out of a bunch right formation where he got open and pulled in a nine-yard gain on 3rd-and-three. At the beginning of the second quarter, Landry saw an end zone target but it was thrown too high. That pass attempt wound up getting nullified by offsetting penalties. Landry's final catch was a seven-yard gain off of a quick pass in the third quarter. Struggling to see a high volume of targets over the past few weeks, it is time to start treating Landry as more of a WR3 than the WR2 he has been over the past few seasons.
|TE David Njoku, 43 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 63 - 1 (5 targets)|
Njoku had a big game for the Browns, doing most of his damage on a 96-yard touchdown drive in the first half. Njoku ripped off two straight receptions on that drive, one for 24 yards and the second for 21. He was wide open on the first catch, trucking a few defenders for extra yardage after the catch. On the second catch he made an exceptional diving grab on a low pass. Njoku's six-yard touchdown reception was an exciting play. He caught a short pass behind the line of scrimmage, around the Cincinnati 10-yard line. He then attempted to leap into the end zone from around the five-yard line. He was caught and held upright by a defender. Once his feet returned to earth, he started churning his legs in attempts to reach the goal line. He got an assist from several teammates as they combined to help push him into the end zone. From watching the replays, it appeared Njoku attempted his leap a bit too far away from the goal line. Njoku, and the rest of the Cleveland passing game, was not needed in the second half with a big lead. Only four passes were attempted. Njoku continues to be one of the league's most athletic tight ends and should be treated as an every week starting option in fantasy.
|QB Jeff Driskel, 44 offensive snaps, Pass: 17 - 29 - 155 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - 9 - 1|
Driskel came on for an injured Dalton and acquitted himself fairly well. In fact, he was able to lead a couple touchdown drives and made the game mildly interesting late. He showed off his big arm with a dart between a pair of defenders to Tyler Boyd
for a 28-yard touchdown. The Bengals didn't do much to take advantage of Driskelís athleticism but likely will moving forward with time to game plan for him as starter. Driskel did score a 2-yard rushing touchdown on a bizarre quarterback sneak. He burrowed forward and was somehow able to keep pushing forward until he broke the plane. Driskel made a big-time throw on the run to for a long gain to Boyd but the play was called back due to an illegal shift, which basically ended any hopes of a miracle comeback.
|QB Andy Dalton, 30 offensive snaps, Pass: 10 - 17 - 100 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 2 - 21 - 0|
In what has been a regular occurrence for Dalton and the Bengals offense of late, he quickly found himself in a big hole. The Bengals deferred and the Browns opened with a touchdown. The offense looked poised to answer, marching down the field with ease until a Giovani Bernard
holding penalty put them behind the chains and forced a long future goal attempt which was blocked. The Browns scored again, the Bengals punted, the Browns scored again, Dalton overshot Cody Core
and the pass was intercepted, the Browns scored again, and the game was basically over at 28-0 midway through the second quarter. Dalton was able to lead a touchdown drive before halftime, capped off with a 2-yard touchdown pass to John Ross
. Things quickly went from bad to worse in the second half. Less than a minute in, a bad snap sailed past Dalton and as he dove to the ground trying to recover the ball, his hand hit awkwardly and he left the game. It has been reported he has a sprained thumb but nothing is broken. However, the injury was serious enough to land Dalton on injured reserve and end his season.
|RB Joe Mixon, 53 offensive snaps, Rush: 14 - 89 - 0, Rec: 7 - 66 - 0 (7 targets)|
Despite the Bengals falling into a huge hole early, the team stuck with Mixon over Bernard, a testament to his ability to make an impact as a receiver. Despite the demoralizing game, Mixon was able to provide an emotional spark with his spirited play. Trailing 28-0, Mixon broke off an impressive 28-yard run where he made a man miss in the hole, hurdled an attempted ankle tackle and weaved his way deep into Browns territory to set up a touchdown. Mixon showed well as a receiver again, finishing second on the team in yards. His soft hands, quick feet, and powerful running style make him a mismatch in space. Mixon deserves an assist for Driskelís short rushing touchdown. Driskel ran a draw and Mixon came in strong behind him, pushing and then dragging him into the end zone.
|RB Giovani Bernard, 23 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 10 - 0, Rec: 1 - 12 - 0 (1 targets)|
Bernard looked confused on a blitz pickup on the opening drive and he was forced to lunge and hold a blitzing linebacker. The holding call caused the drive to stall out and led to a blocked field goal. It was surprising to see how little Bernard was used despite a game script that should have favored him.
|WR Tyler Boyd, 72 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 85 - 1 (8 targets)|
Boydís play was the lone bright spot on an otherwise dismal day for the Bengals. He caught all but one target and even that incompletion was impressive. Boyd made a fantastic mid-air adjustment and nearly was able to pull it in along the sideline. He was able to get open on a post route for a 28-yard touchdown deep down the middle. Boyd made a number of tough contested catches against tight coverage, confidently snatching the ball with his hands. His best play didn't even count. Boyd went up over a pair of Browns defenders to steal the ball out of their hands for a 47-yard reception just shy of the end zone. The play came back due to a flag for an illegal shift.
|WR John Ross, 68 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 31 - 1 (7 targets)|
Ross made an early 17-yard catch over the middle. He leaped high and extended away from his body to pull it in and hung on through contact. While the yards have been tough to come by, Ross has been finding the end zone regularly and extended his touchdown streak with a 2-yard grab. He motioned across the formation to the right side and took advantage of a rub route from the slot receiver to create some separation and then sat down in a hole in the zone for an easy touchdown.
|WR Auden Tate, 32 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 15 - 0 (7 targets)|
Tate frustratingly continues to run behind Cody Core
, whose lazy route led to an interception. When Tate finally got on the field, he made an impact. He dove and extended parallel to the ground to make a spectacular diving grab. He also was able to draw a flag in the end zone when given an opportunity for a jump ball. It was a small sample size, but Tate showed a strong rapport with fellow backup Jeff Driskel
|TE C.J. Uzomah, 74 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 39 - 0 (13 targets)|
Uzomah was again a solid secondary target. He made a pair of nice grabs along the right sideline on the opening drive, one of which was called back due to holding.