By Joseph Nichols, Staff Writer
As the Bengals fall to the rival Cleveland Browns on Monday Night Football, they drop to 4-4 on the season as they sputter along like The Little Engine That Could. The Bengals and primetime games simply do not work well together with the last Bengals primetime road win being December 13, 2012, nearly a decade ago. The last time the Bengals won a Monday night road game, the Boomer-led Bengals toppled the Browns.
After winning four of their last five games, the Bengals appear to have flown too close to the sun, orchestrating an anemic performance on both sides of the ball. Burrow and Mixon started off hot, driving down the field with ease. The drive ended with a tipped ball slipping through Higgins’ hand. The Browns secondary scooped it up, reminiscent of the first drive of the last Bengals-Browns matchup, beginning in another Burrow pick.
The Bengals defense bent, but didn’t break, blocking Browns’ rookie Cade York’s field goal. Both teams appeared to have stout defenses, but it was the Browns who fractured their opponent. With two of the Bengals defensive tackles being ruled out prior to the game, Browns running backs Chubb and Hunt began to have a field day through the Bengals defense.
Unlike the Bengals, the Browns were able to capitalize off of defensive stops. Chubb punched in a touchdown and subsequent two point conversion after. The normally collected Bengals kicker, Evan McPherson, missed a forty-nine yard field goal before halftime, allowing the Browns to drive down and send a cannonball through the uprights out from fifty-five yards.
Cleveland clearly had momentum going into halftime, and after the Bengals lost their star corner, Chidobe Awuzie, earlier in the game, the Browns offense couldn’t be stopped. Chubb and Hunt cracked off first down after first down from the backfield whereas defensive tackle and cornerback depth issues on the Bengals became apparent.
After five minutes of working themselves down the field, the Browns quarterback, Jacoby Brisset runs it in himself, pushing their lead by eighteen. After a huge third down sack, the Bengals were forced to punt and Brisset quickly found Cooper in the end zone, extending the Browns score to twenty-five.
Burrow connected with Boyd the following drive, but McPherson missed the extra point. While hoping for a big stop against the Browns, the Bengals secondary let a fifty-three yard pass to Amari Cooper thread through their defense.
Chubb got his second score on the ground, and trailing by twenty-six, it appeared to be the final nail in the coffin for Cincinnati. Higgins grabbed a ball from Browns cornerback Greedy-Williams and ran it into the endzone in garbage time.
With Chase still being sidelined until at least the Steelers game, the Bengals may look to pick up a free agent wide receiver or trade for one before the NFL trade deadline. Cornerback depth is also an issue after Awzuie was carted off the field, and the Bengals defensive coordinator, Lou Anarumo, opted to play three safeties.
Although the Bengals are second in the AFC North, they now fall to 0-3 in the division, which will be a tough reality when the playoff race heats up. The Ravens now lead the division by a win, yet the Bengals also lead the Browns by a win. The Bengals host the Panthers on Sunday, hoping to stay above .500 before their bye week and a visit to Pittsburgh.
Weekly Wrap Ups:
CMC is Absolutely Electrifying
After the Niners traded four picks to get running back superstar Christian McCaffery, he became only the fourth player in NFL history, and the first since Ladanian Tomlinson in 2005, to throw, receive, and rush for a touchdown in a single game. The 49ers appear to be creating a juggernaut on offense, surrounding quarterback Jimmy Garrapolo with as many weapons as possible as he continues his Super Bowl LIV revenge tour.
D.J. Moore: One Man Army in Carolina
After teammates Christian McCaffery and Robbie Anderson were traded from the team and starting quarterbacks Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield, and Matt Corral being sidelined with injury, Moore appears to be one of the last bright spots in their offense. Moore pulled in a spectacular 62-yard touchdown catch in double coverage from practice squad quarterback D.J. Moore, tying the game with seconds left on the clock. Panthers kicker Eddy Pinerio missed the kick, and they lost to the division rival Atlanta Falcons.
Vegas Gambles, Comes up Empty
After trading a first and second round pick for All-Pro wide receiver, Davante Adams, and Raiders seemed poised to become a Dark Horse contender in the AFC after following to the Bengals in wildcard weekend this past year. The Raiders were shut out by the New Orleans Saints, failing to get the ball to Adams twice. The Raiders drop to 2-5 in an already crowded AFC, virtually ending playoff expectations or hopes.
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