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Week 17 Game Recap: Cleveland Browns 23, Cincinnati Bengals 33


What you need to know

Cleveland Browns

The Browns closed the book on yet another disappointing season, losing to a Bengals team that had just one win coming into the game. Cleveland only ran the ball 16 times against a Cincinnati run defense that was one of the worst in the NFL in 2019. The Browns defense looked disinterested and allowed Joe Mixon to shred them for a career-high 162 rushing yards. Head coach Freddie Kitchens was relieved of his duties a few hours after the loss, making him the second one-and-done coach since the Haslams took ownership of the team.

Cincinnati Bengals

-Andy Dalton had a solid performance and went out with a win in what was likely his last game in Cincinnati.

-Joe Mixon was dominant, showing an elite combination of speed, power, and elusiveness. He had three long runs that each were the result of an incredible individual effort by Mixon.

-John Ross continues to be very much a work in progress. He had another bad drop and his mediocre effort on a deep ball led to another interception.

Cleveland Browns

QB Baker Mayfield, 54 offensive snaps, Pass: 12 - 27 - 279 - 3 TD / 3 INT, Rush: 4 - 29 - 0
Mayfield threw three more interceptions, bumping his season-long total to 21, second in the league behind only Jameis Winston. He got off to a fast start in the game, with his first pass going for a 46-yard touchdown to a diving Damion Ratley in the end zone. It was a great throw off play action that Mayfield placed perfectly in the end zone. On the teamís third drive, Mayfield threw his first interception on a bad pass to Jarvis Landry. The defender jumped the route and dove in front of Landry for the pick. On the following possession, Mayfield came close to throwing another interception. This time he attempted a short dump off to Kareem Hunt but Hunt hadnít turned his head around yet. A defender got his hands on the ball but dropped it. On the teamís first drive of the second quarter, Mayfield completed two deep passes, a 26-yard completion to Jarvis Landry and a 36-yarder to Odell Beckham Jr. He placed the ball perfectly for Beckham to run under it for the long completion. That drive stalled and the Browns settled for a field goal. Mayfieldís second touchdown pass came on the ensuing drive. He hit Jarvis Landry with a perfect pass down the seam. Landry made the contested catch and instantly had a defender on his back. He got some luck as another Bengals defender came flying in to make the hit but wound up hitting his own teammate, freeing Landry to cruise into the end zone all alone. Mayfield kicked off the second half with another interception, this time heaving a deep shot in the direction of Beckham into double coverage for an easy pick by the defense. Mayfieldís final touchdown came in the fourth quarter on fourth-and-goal from the Cincinnati 20-yard line. He threw high toward the right side of the end zone and Odell Beckham leapt up to make an impressive catch. On the teamís final drive, Mayfield sailed a pass too high for a wide open Beckham in the middle of the field and then ended his teamís season with his third interception on a poor pass aimed at Landry.

RB Nick Chubb, 31 offensive snaps, Rush: 13 - 41 - 0, Rec: 1 - 1 - 0 (2 targets)
Chubb got off to a nice start but the team went away from him as the game went on, despite it being a close game and the Bengals having a weak run defense. Chubb picked up five yards on his first carry, a pitch to the left and followed that up with another five yards to the right. Those two run plays on the first two plays of the game helped set up the play-action 46-yard touchdown pass that capped off the first drive. Chubb only saw one carry on the next two possessions, losing four yards. On the fourth possession of the game, he was stopped for no gain twice and drew a target deep down the right sideline. The pass was thrown too high for him to catch. In the second quarter, Chubb saw just three carries, going for seven, three, and five yards. His lone reception came at the beginning of the third quarter. He caught a pass behind the line of scrimmage and was able to evade a tackle, turning what would have been a four-yard loss into a one-yard gain. In the fourth quarter, Chubb appeared to be picking up steam but he only wound up seeing three carries, going for eight yards, seven yards, and one yard.

RB Kareem Hunt, 36 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 4 - 0, Rec: 3 - 32 - 0 (4 targets)
Hunt did most of his damage in the passing attack, gaining just four yards on three carries. His first target fell incomplete when Baker Mayfield attempted a short dump-off but Hunt hadnít gotten his head around to see the ball. The pass came close to getting intercepted. In the second quarter, Hunt ripped off a 10-yard reception on third-and-five and then tacked on a five yard run. He wasnít seen much again until the fourth quarter where he grabbed an 11-yard pass. He also saw a red zone carry from the Cincinnati 16-yard line on that same drive but he slipped at the line of scrimmage, resulting in no gain. His final catch was an 11-yard pickup where he fought for some extra yardage before going down. Hunt is a restricted free agent this offseason so it remains to be seen whether he returns to Cleveland in 2020.

WR Odell Beckham, 49 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 81 - 1 (6 targets)
Beckham found the end zone for just the fourth time all season but he did manage to top 1,000 receiving yards on the season. His first catch was a beauty on a deep 36-yard bomb down the right sideline. Baker Mayfield made a perfect pass over the defense and Beckham did the rest, hauling in the over the shoulder grab. On the final drive of the second quarter, Beckham drew his second target but the pass was thrown too high for him to catch. His third target came on the first drive of the third quarter on a deep target to the right side but the pass was forced into double coverage and was easily intercepted. His best work came in the fourth quarter. He got wide open on a play-action pass and hauled in a 25-yard catch. That was the catch that put him over 1,000 receiving yards. It appeared that he may not return to the game afterwards as he took himself out of the game and removed his helmet. He ultimately wound up returning a few plays later and made an impressive 20-yard touchdown catch on fourth-and-goal. He leapt up and grabbed the ball in the back right corner of the end zone. On his way down he was able to tap his right toe on his way out of bounds to get both feet down. On the teamís final drive of the game he got open in the middle of the field but the pass went off his hands for a drop. Beckham played through a sports hernia for much of the season and could be headed for offseason surgery to get the issue repaired.

WR Jarvis Landry, 54 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 82 - 1 (6 targets)
Landry was targeted on Baker Mayfieldís first interception of the game. Landry appeared to have slipped and a defender jumped the route, making the interception in front of him. His first catch came late in the second quarter on a deep target down the sideline, going for 26 yards. He found the end zone on the next drive, catching a deep, 56-yard pass down the seam and getting some help from the Bengals defenders. He had one defender on his back right after the catch while another Bengal came flying in to make the hit but wound up hitting his own teammate instead of Landry, freeing the wide receiver to cruise into the end zone all alone. In the fourth quarter, Landry saw a pair of red zone targets but both fell incomplete. The first was batted at the line while the other was in a defenderís hands before he dropped it. Landry was the intended target on Mayfieldís final interception of the game on a bad pass that was too high for Landry to catch. Landry played through a hip injury for much of the season and is likely headed for offseason surgery to get the issue cleaned up.

WR Damion Ratley, 11 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 64 - 1 (3 targets)
Ratley made a great 46-yard diving touchdown catch for the teamís first score of the game. It was equal parts great pass and great catch in the end zone. He wasnít heard from again until the fourth quarter when he made an 18-yard grab.


Cincinnati Bengals

QB Andy Dalton, 69 offensive snaps, Pass: 16 - 28 - 190 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 8 - 10 - 1
In what was likely his final game in a Bengals uniform, Dalton went out with a win and strong overall performance. Cincinnati scored a touchdown on the opening drive, with Dalton hitting CJ Uzomah down the seam for a 15-yard touchdown to cap it off. Dalton also ran for a 5-yard touchdown. He spun out of pressure and showed decent speed to get around the corner and dive for the pylon. Dalton threw an interception on a deep ball to John Ross, a regular occurrence down the stretch of the season. The Browns werenít fooled by the play action and the route was fairly well covered but Ross didnít do much to fight for the ball. The Bengals offense was a bit more conservative in the second half, nursing a lead but Dalton was efficient and the team continued to move the ball well.

RB Joe Mixon, 51 offensive snaps, Rush: 26 - 162 - 2, Rec: 1 - 14 - 0 (1 targets)
Mixon was dominant against the Browns. On the first offensive possession, he broke a spectacular 41-yard run that came entirely due to his effort. There was no room to run up the middle, so he broke it to the outside, juked a defender at the line of scrimmage to get into the secondary, then hurdled a second defender to get loos down the sideline. He had another exceptional run on the second drive of the game, picking up 21 yards on a highlight-reel run that featured a jump cut to get free to the outside and power to break the first tackle attempt. Mixon powered his way in for a 3-yard touchdown on a shotgun handoff on 3rd-and-goal. He got into the end zone easily on a similar play later in the game, scoring his second touchdown from two yards out. Mixon essentially put the game away with another extremely impressive run late. He burst through a small hole and lowered his shoulder to deliver a devastating blow to the safety and ran right over him to get into the secondary for a 28-yard gain. The run just before the two minute warning put the Bengals in position for a game-clinching field goal to secure a two-score lead late.

RB Giovani Bernard, 18 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 4 - 0 (1 targets)
Bernardís playing time was down and he didnít make much of an impact in his 18 snaps. As Mixon emerged as the focal point of the offense down the stretch, Bernardís small role shrunk even further.

WR Tyler Boyd, 57 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 59 - 0 (7 targets)
Boyd had a pair of uncharacteristic drops in the first half but otherwise played well. He made a leaping catch over Denzel Ward over the middle of the field for a 22-yard gain. He was also able to get open on short out-breaking routes for gains of 5-to-10 yards with some consistency.

WR John Ross, 47 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - -2 - 0, Rec: 2 - 42 - 0 (5 targets)
Ross continues to show too much inconsistency. He had one deep ball opportunity in the first half that he made a strong effort on. He wasnít open but made the most of his shot at a contested catch opportunity by leaping over the safety and getting a hand on it to at least prevent the interception. The Bengals went back to him on another deep ball and he didnít make the same effort, getting his feet twisted while tracking it and not making much of a play on the ball. The weak effort made it an easy interception for the cornerback. Ross also had a short pass go right through his hands. Despite the two mistakes, Dalton continued to go back to Ross. The two connected for a 14-yard gain on a slow developing crossing route and then hooked up for a 28-yard pick up on the very next play. Ross created massive separation on a deep out route for what was a fairly easy completion.

WR Alex Erickson, 57 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 5 - 0, Rec: 1 - 16 - 0 (4 targets)
Erickson was almost an every down player for the Bengals, playing 83% of the offensive snaps. His lone catch came on a short comeback route.

TE C.J. Uzomah, 53 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 25 - 1 (6 targets)
Uzomah started and played the majority of the snaps (77%). He caught a 15-yard touchdown on the opening possession. The Bengals lined up with three tight ends and motioned Giovani Bernard out of the backfield to line up at wide receiver. The unusual formation caused some confusion for the Browns defense and allowed Uzomah to find open space down the seam. The Bengals tried to setup a tight end screen to but the defensive end never really let go of him and dropped him for a 7-yard loss on the catch.

TE Tyler Eifert, 27 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 34 - 0 (2 targets)
Eifertís playing time fell again. He played just 39% of the snaps and was targeted only twice. Both opportunities came on third-and-medium and he came through to keep the chains moving. He used a subtle push off to create space on a comeback route for a 9-yard reception. Eifert had a 25-yard reception on a deep post route, finding a soft spot in the zone behind the dropping linebacker.