Reporting Daryl Ruiter
CINCINNATI (92.3 The Fan) – The Cleveland Browns sure could’ve used Joe Haden Sunday in Cincinnati.
Especially after the punt coverage team put them behind the 8-ball right out of the gate.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton completed 21 of 34 passes for 318 yards and 3 touchdowns in a 34-27 win over the Cleveland Browns at Paul Brown Stadium.
The Browns played from behind all day after Adam ‘Pac-Man’ Jones weaved his way 81 yards on a punt return for a touchdown to give the Bengals an early 7-0 advantage.
“I think we had 6 missed tackles,” coach Pat Shurmur said. “Anybody see anything different? That’s just what I saw on the field. (There was) nothing wrong with the (coverage) scheme, nothing wrong with the punt, just gotta get the guy on the ground. As we know, when those things tip over, it’s easy to go back (and look) at the game and say yeah, that was the difference.
“But there was a lot of football to be played after that, let’s make no mistake. A lot of football.”
The Browns stayed close but never fully recovered.
Dalton threw a 10-yard TD to A.J. Green, a 44 yarder to Brandon Tate and a 50-yard strike to Andrew Hawkins.
Phil Dawson hit a 50 yard field goal to cut Cincinnati’s lead to 7-3 and added a 25 yarder with :20 to play in the fourth to close out the scoring.
D’Qwell Jackson did all he could to keep the Browns in the game by recording 3 sacks and his second interception in as many weeks late in the third quarter.
“He’s as advertised,” Shurmur said. “You’ve been hearing me talk about him for 18 months and I didn’t even know him for the first 6, so he’s a great leader. He’s an aspiring player and he’s finding a way to be productive.”
Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson bounced back from disappointing debuts but it wasn’t enough.
Richardson ran for 109 yards on 19 carries and his first NFL TD – a 32-yard run in the second quarter. He also caught a 23-yard touchdown that saw embarras Bengal defenders en route to the end zone.
“I’m just blessed with a certain talent that God gave me,” Richardson said. “I don’t know how I did it. It just happened.”
Richardson is the first Browns rookie since Lee Suggs to run for over 100 yards in a game. Suggs ran for 186 against the Bengals in 2003. It was also the last time a Browns rookie running back ran for a touchdown as well.
“We did a good job, but I think we can do an even better job,” Richardson said. “When we start winning, it’s going to be much better.”
Weeden completed 26 of 37 passes for a Browns rookie record 322 yards and a pair of touchdowns but it wasn’t enough as the Bengals had an answer for every score.
“On the scoreboard it kind of seemed that way, but that wasn’t really our mentality,” Weeden said. Our mentality was, ‘Just answer.’ We put ourselves in position. Andy (Dalton) played great. Their offense played great, and that’s a good football team.”
Cleveland racked up 440 yards of total offense in the loss – their 10th straight against divisional foes.
The last time the Browns won an AFC North game was Oct. 3, 2010 – a 23-20 triumph at Browns Stadium.
Bengals kicker Mike Nugent connected on both of his field goals – 37 and 39 yards.
Nugent’s second kick came with 2:09 to play and put the game away. It capped an 11-play 58-yard drive that included a spectacular 24-yard catch by Jermaine Gresham on the sideline to keep the drive alive.
Shurmur challenged the call but to no avail.
“I thought he bobbled it,” Shurmur said. “At that point, you have to challenge that because that’s a significant game situation. If it goes our way, the views that we saw said he bobbled it going out of bounds and all that business, you have to because then it’s fourth down and they’re punting the ball.
“I’ve got one time out left and we’re on the other side of the two minute warning.”