The Cleveland Browns beat the Cincinnati Bengals 34-24 in a battle of interstate rivals Sunday afternoon for their first victory of the 2012 season. Cleveland trailed for much of the game, but came through with enough big plays in the second half to win the game by two scores.
The Browns' defense struggled to limit quarterback Andy Dalton and the Bengals' passing game in the first half, but the team did a nice job of adjusting early in the second half to get back into the game. Cincinnati mustered just 10 points in the final 30 minutes of Sunday's game, although Dalton was building momentum late before a huge turnover.
With just under three minutes left, Dalton had the Bengals' offense in the red zone with a chance to cut Cleveland's lead to 3 points, but a big hit from behind caused him to lose the ball. The Browns managed to pick it up and run it into Cincinnati territory, essentially putting the game out of reach.
With the defense doing just enough to keep Dalton in check during the second half, the Browns just needed to come through with some big scoring plays to put the game away. Between a 60-yard punt return by Joshua Cribbs, a pick-six by Sheldon Brown and a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown drives by the offense, Cleveland got more than enough to hold off a good Bengals team at home.
The victory ends a franchise-record 11-game losing streak for Cleveland that began in the middle of last season.
Fantasy studs/duds: Weeden had a quality game for the Browns, completing 17-of-29 passes for 231 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. He did a strong job of spreading the ball around, with Josh Gordon's three catches for 99 yards leading the way for Cleveland.
The game's leading rusher, Cincinnati's Benjarvus Green-Ellis, had just 62 yards on 16 carries. The combination of Dalton (381 passing yards, three TDs, three INTs) and A.J. Green (seven catches, 135 yards, two TDs) was prolific as usual.
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Odds: The Bengals were favored by 3 points, so they didn't cover.
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Injury info: Bengals running back Brian Leonard left the game with a rib injury and Browns running back Trent Richardson was forced to sit out occasionally while dealing with a flank injury.