Bengals plaster lowly Browns in Battle of Ohio


The playoff-bound Cincinnati Bengals (10-2) turned the Battle of Ohio into an embarrassing wipeout for the down-and-out Browns (2-10) in a 37-3 win over Cleveland on Sunday. Here's what you need to know:

1. Chalk it up as another paint-by-numbers win for the surging Bengals, who barely broke a sweat in burying the lowly Browns. A dominant performance by Cincinnati's line and just enough from Andy Dalton revealed the wide talent chasm between a loaded Cincinnati offense and Cleveland's disorganized defense. This felt like a practice session for Cincy or maybe a well-conceived Madden win against one's technologically lost grandmother.

2. It was embarrassing for the Browns and their fans to watch A.J. Green fry Tramon Williams for 102 yards in a little over a quarter of play. Finishing with 128 yards off five grabs, Green was left in single coverage on a rash of huge grabs, turning this game into a wipeout early. It doesn't help that Cleveland can't rush the passer, can't stop the run and refuses to make in-game adjustments.

3. Making his first start in over a year, Browns passer Austin Davis did what he could, as one teammate after the next missed time due to injuries. Davis (25-of-38 for 231 yards with a pick) looked comfortable in the pocket for stretches, showed grit and made a handful of solid throws despite Cleveland's awful pass protection. Hamstrung by a ground game that produced its first 50-yard rusher since Week 4, Davis was an easy target for a Cincinnati front that piled up three sacks and another eight hits on the quarterback. Clock management was an issue for Davis again, but his biggest gaffe came on a lateral pass that was tipped by a Bengals defender and floated backwards, allowing Cincy to pounce on it. Davis wasn't the reason Cleveland lost -- Mike Pettine told reporters he'd decide his starter for next week on Monday -- but it's fair to wonder how many of his teammates will make this roster in 2016. This Browns season can't end soon enough.

4. Geno Atkins didn't show up in the box score in the first half, reminding us again how meaningless those numbers can be. The Bengals defensive tackle controlled the middle of the field and opened up lanes for his teammates. Carlos Dunlap had an early sack nullified by a facemask, but the Cincy pass rusher wouldn't have even reached Davis if Atkins wasn't swallowing up a pair of Browns. Cleveland rookie lineman Cameron Erving won't forget Geno any time soon.

5. They weren't asked to save the day, but Bengals backs Jeremy Hill (22/98) and Giovani Bernard (5/26) combined for 4.6 yards per rush. Hill, especially, had his way with the NFL's worst run defense.