Green leads Bengals over Browns again, 23-20
A.J. Green’s first catch to beat the Browns was easy. His latest
one was amazing.
The rookie receiver went over the middle, made a leaping catch
over Cleveland cornerback Joe Haden, then kept going for a 51-yard
reception in the final minute that set up the Cincinnati Bengals’
23-20 victory on Sunday, keeping them in the thick of playoff
For Green, the game-changing play was as simple as going up for
”I did play basketball when I was younger,” the first-round
pick said. ”It’s like rebounding. A lot of it is just timing and
going up strong.”
Green caught the ball at the 30-yard line and was run out of
bounds at the 2. The Bengals (7-4) settled for Mike Nugent’s
26-yard field goal with 38 seconds left, giving them their first
lead of the game.
It was a flashback to the season opener in Cleveland, when the
Bengals caught the Browns (4-7) coming out of the huddle slowly and
second-string quarterback Bruce Gradkowski – filling in for an
injured Andy Dalton – ran a quick-snap play. Green was uncovered
for a 41-yard touchdown catch that decided that game.
The surprising Bengals stayed right behind Baltimore and
Pittsburgh in the AFC North with their latest comeback, this one
forged by their rookie big-play combination.
”It was an amazing catch that won the game for them,” Browns
quarterback Colt McCoy said.
The Browns blitzed on third-and-8, and Dalton threw it down the
middle just before he got hit. Green adjusted and leaped high above
Haden to get the ball.
”That’s why he was the fourth pick in the draft,” coach Marvin
Lewis said. ”He’s the best first-round draft pick I’ve ever been
around. He continues to amaze me. He’s a phenomenal athlete.”
The Browns came away feeling they’d beaten themselves again.
In addition to the quick-snap fiasco in the season opener, they
lost a game two weeks ago because of a botched snap on a field goal
attempt. St. Louis held on for a 13-12 win in Cleveland when a bad
snap caused Phil Dawson to miss a 22-yard try with 2:13 left.
On Sunday, Dawson had already kicked one from 54 yards – his
longest of the season – and felt comfortable when he lined up for a
55-yarder with 1:51 to play. The snapped skipped across the turf
and Dawson never had a chance. His kick wasn’t even close.
”It was a very bad snap,” long snapper Ryan Pontbriand said.
”I’m in a pretty tough slump right now.”
The Browns were fuming as they headed back to the north end of
”It’s heartbreaking, it’s frustrating, it’s tough,” safety
Mike Adams said.
It was a familiar outcome for the intrastate rivalry. Cincinnati
has won 12 of the past 15 games and six of seven at Paul Brown
Stadium. Only 48,260 showed up at the 65,500-seat stadium to see
the Bengals make a little history.
For the third time this season, they trailed by at least 10
points at halftime but rallied to win. That matches the league
record for a season shared by the 1980 Chiefs, 1984 Patriots, 1986
Colts and 2011 Lions.
Green was on the sideline with a bruised right knee for the
finish of Cincinnati’s last two games, when the Bengals threatened
late but couldn’t make a decisive play during losses to Pittsburgh
and Baltimore that dropped them to third place in the AFC North.
With Green back, they had what they needed.
”I like my chances with A.J.,” said Dalton, who was 21 of 31
for 270 yards with a touchdown. ”You just put it around him and he
makes plays. He’s a special player.”
Notes: Peyton Hillis, who missed the past six games with a
strained left hamstring, returned and carried 19 times for 65
yards. … McCoy was 16 of 34 for 151 yards with a pair of
touchdowns. His 24-yard pass to Jordan Norwood capped Cleveland’s
opening drive and gave the Browns their first TD touchdown in the
first quarter all season. They’d managed a total of nine points in
the opening quarter until then. … LB Scott Fujita likely broke
his right hand but expects to keep playing. The Browns also had
injuries to DL Emmanuel Stephens (strained chest muscles) and
second-string LB Kaluka Maiava (knee). … Green’s third 100-yard
game tied the club rookie record, shared by Isaac Curtis (1973) and
Eddie Brown (1985). … The Bengals lead the intrastate series