Around the NFL  

 

Bengals spoil Manziel's debut in romp over Browns

Print

The Bengals (9-4-1) look like playoff material after smothering rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel and shredding Cleveland's defense for 244 yards on the ground in a 30-0 romp over the Browns (7-7). Our takeaways:

1. Johnny Manziel's big debut was a comprehensive dud. The Browns rookie passer failed to move the offense and looked fairly lost in completing 10 of 18 throws for just 80 yards with a pair of ugly picks (and a third called back by penalty). With just 22 passing yards at the half, Manziel struggled to build rhythm for a withering attack held to 2.8 yards per play. Johnny Football didn't get much help from Cleveland's lifeless ground game, but the rookie is accountable for holding the ball too long on a day that saw the Bengals pile up three sacks and another six hits on the quarterback. Advertised as a playmaking gem with a knack for extending plays, Manziel displayed little of that magic on Sunday.

2. Jeremy Hill knew he'd be a target after calling the Browns "worse than I thought" following a 24-3 loss to Cleveland back in Week 10. The Bengals rookie runner, though, backed up his chatter on Sunday with 103 yards in the first half alone. It's easy to see why play-caller Hue Jackson chose to lean on Hill as his standalone starter. The former LSU star finished with 148 yards on the day and looked fantastic running inside and out while breaking plenty of tackles for extra yards. Everything clicked for Hill, save for this ill-advised encounter with the Dawg Pound:

3. After playing his worst game of the year in that Week 10 loss to the Browns, Andy Dalton guided the Bengals to four straight scoring drives to open the game. He also left points on the field by overthrowing wide-open targets and passing for just 117 yards at 4.9 yards per attempt, but Dalton doesn't need to save the day when the Bengals run the ball the way they did against Cleveland.

4. Coming off last week's 224-yard explosion against the Steelers, All-Pro pass-catcher A.J. Green returned to earth with just 49 yards off five grabs for the run-happy Bengals. His matchup with Joe Haden was cut short when the Browns cornerback left in the first half with a shoulder injury.

5. The Browns nearly beat the Colts last week because of a defense that generated two touchdowns off four turnovers. The unit wasn't nearly as effective on Sunday, allowing Cincy to run 22 plays over their first two drives. That set the tone for an affair that saw the Bengals own the ball for 38:52.

6. Nursing a half-game lead in the AFC North, the Bengals can write their own script from here. Remaining tilts against the Broncos and Steelers make for an ugly slate, but Cincy can beat anyone when they're clicking. Cleveland, meanwhile, is essentially out of the playoff race and facing another offseason of questions under center.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast recaps every Sunday game from Week 15 and discusses all the playoff implications. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

Print

Fan Discussion