One miserable quarter followed by a record-setting one. The
Bengals pulled off one of those comebacks that they might look back
upon as a turning point in their season.
”I hope I am looking back from somewhere in New York City,”
coach Marvin Lewis said, referring to the site of the next Super
Cincinnati took a giant step toward another playoff appearance
on Sunday, rallying from an early 13-point deficit to a 41-20 win
over the intrastate rival Cleveland Browns. The Bengals (7-4)
scored a club-record 31 points in the second quarter to brush away
And now, they’re in control of the AFC North.
The Browns, Ravens and Steelers are all tied at 4-6. Cleveland
went into the game on Sunday looking to prove it’s worthy of being
touted as a contender. Instead, the Browns got their
”One thing led to another and the next thing you know, we’re
down big,” cornerback Joe Haden said.
Five things learned from the most lopsided result in the
intrastate series since Cincinnati’s 30-0 win in 2006:
BENGALS ARE IN CONTROL: A loss would have left the AFC North
wide open. Instead, Cincinnati’s win combined with Baltimore’s
23-20 overtime loss in Chicago left the Bengals with a two-game
lead in the loss column heading into the final stretch. The Bengals
have a bye week to rest, then finish with three of their last five
games at Paul Brown Stadium, where they’re 5-0 this season. The
game on Sunday had enormous significance in the division.
”Cleveland has done a lot of really good things, put themselves
in position in the division that this was a really big game for
both teams,” quarterback Andy Dalton said.
CINCINNATI HAS A COMPLETE TEAM: The Bengals scored their 31
points in the second quarter off Dalton’s two touchdown passes, a
blocked punt returned for a touchdown, a fumble returned for a
touchdown and a field goal. Even when the offense struggles –
Dalton threw two interceptions to Haden in the first quarter, one
of which he returned for a touchdown – the rest of the team can
make up for it. The defense came in ranked fourth in the NFL. The
specials teams have blocked three kicks this season, the Bengals’
best such showing since 1991.
BROWNS FALL APART: Cleveland viewed the game as a chance to
prove it has grown beyond also-ran status. Even with an early 13-0
lead, the Browns couldn’t pull it off. Jason Campbell threw his
first interception of the season, followed by two more. The Browns
got a first-and-goal at the 2 but had to settle for a field goal.
The punt team got a kick blocked for the first time in 20 years. In
most ways, it was a nightmare.
”I’m glad this one’s over,” linebacker D’Qwell Jackson
GOOD DALTON, BAD DALTON: A banner in the upper deck at Paul
Brown Stadium said: ”Will The Real Andy Please Stand Up?” The
Bengals had lost their past two games in overtime, with Dalton
throwing six interceptions. He threw two more to Haden in the first
quarter. Dalton rebounded with three touchdown passes and finished
13 of 27 for 93 yards. Fans saw both sides of the third-year
quarterback, who didn’t get flustered after throwing two
”There was so much game left and you can’t get down at that
point,” Dalton said. ”It’s kind of how I’ve been and how I am. I
try not to get too high or too low with whatever’s going on in the
game. We didn’t let it affect us.”
SETTING SOME RECORDS: Cincinnati’s 31-point quarter surpassed
the previous club mark of 28 points in a quarter, according to
STATS LLC. … The 31 points were the second-most allowed by the
Browns in one quarter. They hadn’t done it since they gave up 31 in
the second quarter at Houston on Dec. 9, 1990. The club record is
35 points allowed in the first quarter of a 35-7 loss at Green Bay
in 1967. … Haden had the first two-interception game of his
career and held A.J. Green to two catches for 7 yards, ending the
receiver’s club-record streak of five straight 100-yard games.