Browns sack Burrow, Bengals behind dominant defense

Browns sack Burrow, Bengals behind dominant defense

CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Browns mounted a dominating defense and a pair of touchdown passes from Nick Chubb for a 32-13 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals — who were without injured receiver Ja’Marr Chase — on “Monday Night Football” at Cleveland.

Cleveland Browns

On Halloween night, the Browns finally came to life.

Cleveland buried Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow on the way to a dominating win, giving their moribund season a jolt ahead of a bye week.

The Bengals entered “Monday Night Football” having scored in 41 consecutive halves. But a suddenly resurgent Browns defense ended that streak, holding Cincinnati scoreless in the first half. The Bengals defense also hadn’t allowed a second-half touchdown all season. But Cleveland scored touchdowns on its first two drives outside of halftime to put the game out of reach.

The Browns (3-5) still have some work to do to get back into the AFC playoff table. But this win means their season is far from dead.

Buy on exceptional performance: The Browns entered the week ranked 30th in defensive efficiency. But after a promising showing last weekend in the loss at Baltimore, Cleveland’s defense has finally lived up to its preseason expectations. Talent was never the issue. The Browns might have discovered the chemistry and cohesion that was missing.

Stunning Next Gen Stats: Browns QB Jacoby Brissett averaged 3.24 seconds to throw per pass. As a result, he completed 17 of 22 passes for 278 yards, including 259 passing yards when given at least 2.5 seconds to throw.

Bold prediction for next week: After a week of trade rumors surrounding running back Kareem Hunt, the Browns won’t deal with him until Tuesday’s trade deadline. A loss on Monday could have prompted Cleveland to trade Hunt, who is in the final year of his contract, for a late-round pick. The way Cleveland’s offense clicked with Hunt playing a big part in the win over the Bengals should be enough to convince the Browns to spend the rest of the season with him. -Jake Trotter

Underestimated statistics namely: With Myles Garrett’s sack in the first half, he became the first Browns player with at least 65 sacks since the stat became official in 1982.

Next game: at Dolphins (1 p.m. ET, Nov. 13)

Cincinnati Bengals

With the Bengals in a close battle with the Baltimore Ravens in the race for the AFC North, losing to the Browns would hurt Cincinnati’s chances of repeating themselves as division champions. Cincinnati (4-4) didn’t just lose, it was beaten in a loss that didn’t seem as close as the final scoreline suggested.

Last season, the Bengals were 4-2 in AFC North play, sweeping Baltimore and Pittsburgh. A fifth straight loss to Cleveland in the inter-team series narrows Cincinnati’s margin of error for the remainder of the season.

Describe the game in two words: Brutal demonstration. Cincinnati’s night started badly, went all game long, and the Bengals were never even competitive against a struggling Cleveland team.

QB Breakdown: Without Chase, the Cincinnati offense looked like the unit that struggled early in the season. Unlike last week’s game against the Atlanta Falcons, Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow was limited in his down production. Fifteen of Burrow’s first 21 attempts were 10 air yards or less, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. When the game was balanced, Burrow took a few down shots. But whether it was because of Chase’s absence or some other reason, Burrow and the offense just didn’t have it.

Pivot play: Once again, Garrett caused problems in Cincinnati. On the Bengals’ first practice of the game, things looked promising until Garrett pulled away from the line of scrimmage and passed Burrow through the air. Browns cornerback AJ Green III intercepted the deflection. From there, the Bengals played on the back foot and ultimately never recovered.

Hole in the game plan: Despite all the talk of Cleveland’s rushing offense, it was backup quarterback Brissett who ignited Cincinnati’s defense through the air. At one point, the Browns averaged 9.2 yards per pass attempt. Cincinnati’s efforts took a hit when cornerback Chidobe Awuzie left the game late in the first half with a right knee injury. Rookie Cam Taylor-Britt, the team’s second-round pick this year, made his first NFL start against Awuzie. — Well baby

Underestimated statistics namely: Burrow has thrown an interception on the first drive in each of his last three starts against the Browns.

Next game: vs. Panthers (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

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