TIME FLIES WHEN YOU’RE GETTING EERIE
There’s something eerie about the Battle of Ohio, and we’re not talking about the state’s Great Lake.
• The last win of the Randy Lerner or the first win of the Jimmy Haslam era, depending how you look at it, was the Browns’ 34-24 conquest of the Bengals.
• Pat Shurmur’s first loss as Browns head coach was in the 2011 season opener against Cincinnati.
• Eric Mangini’s only win in the first six games of his ill-fated 2010 season was against the Bengals.
• The last home game in the four years of the Phil Savage-Romeo Crennel era was a 14-0 loss to the Bengals.
• Crennel’s first game as head coach was a loss to Cincinnati in the 2005 season opener.
• Coach Butch Davis quit after a 58-48 loss at Cincinnati with five games left in the 2004 season.
• The 2000 Browns won the first game in Paul Brown Stadium.
• The 1999 Browns lost the last game at Cincinnati’s old stadium.
• The Browns’ last home game and final win before moving to Baltimore was 26-10 over the Bengals in 1995.
COOLING HADEN’S JETS
Cornerback Joe Haden was fired up about returning from a four-game suspension, especially since it included an interception that was part of a victory.
Veteran corner Sheldon Brown is making sure Haden curbs his enthusiasm as he reintegrates himself into the defense.
“He’s good,” Brown said. “He isn’t great yet.”
The point was driven home by 2011 No. 4 overall draft pick A.J. Green, who burned Haden for a 57-yard touchdown. That gave Cincinnati hope after Brown’s pick six had provided a 34-17 lead.
“Green is one of the most talented receivers I’ve ever played against,” Haden said, “high school, college, anything.”
Green got behind Haden on the TD and had easy pickings when Haden stumbled as the ball arrived.
Brown played with a cornerback corps including rookie Trevin Wade, second-year pro Buster Skrine and third-year pro Haden.
“Those are my kids, man,” Brown said.
Haden did have an interception that set up a field goal during the Browns’ decisive rally. It set up a field goal that brought the Browns to within 14-13.
• Against Cincinnati, Brandon Weeden has posted passer ratings of 114.9 and 92.7.
His ratings in the other four games were 5.1 against the Eagles, 65.7 against the Bills, 65.7 at Baltimore and 84.3 against the Giants.
• Rookie Josh Gordon made a one-handed catch that turned into a 71-yard touchdown.
“The wind took it at the last minute,” Gordon said. “It hung a little and had some wobble-duck action on it. It wound up being the best way to catch it.”
Page 2 of 4 - • Tight end Jordan Cameron made one of the biggest catches of the game in the fourth quarter. His 23-yard play on third and one gave the Browns a first and goal on the 3.
“I fell down,” Jordan said, “and they lost track of me. I got back up and Brandon found me. It was real windy today, but he had some speed on the ball. It was right in there.”
The Browns led 20-17 at the time. They scored one play after Cameron’s catch to make it 27-17.
• Josh Cooper caught two passes for 35 yards in his NFL debut. He caught a 28-yard pass on a go route on the first series.
“That’s my boy,” Weeden said of his former Oklahoma State pal. “That’s my boy.”
“I was so pumped up in the huddle I could barely call the play.”
• “My conversations with him have been terrific to this point. He has a business model that works. Every time we finish a conversation, he asked, ‘What can I do for you.’”
— Coach Pat Shurmur moments after a post-game chat with new owner Jimmy Haslam
• “I was trying to act like I was cool. I wasn’t.”
— Haden on returning from a four-game suspension.
• We’re a winning football team. We’re just not clicking.”
— Bengals wideout Green
• “We have to put this one behind us and get ready for Pittsburgh.”
— Bengals running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis
• “God knows what’s going to happen when Josh Cribbs has the ball in his hands, especially on punts. His returns are a huge spark.”
• “We let Cribbs out of there on two big plays and it ended up being the field-position plays that killed us. You can’t do that against him.”
— Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis
• “We’ve got to play nastier. We’re almost too nice at times.”
• “As I told him on the sidelines, it was the play of the game.”
— Weeden on Cribbs’ 60-yard punt return
Prized rookie Trent Richardson missed much of the second half with a flank injury (side of the torso).
Before Richardson took a seat for the day, Montario Hardesty was inserted into the offense for his first serious action.
Hardesty ran three times for 10 yards on his first offensive series of the season. Maybe he was a good-luck charm. On third and eight, Brandon Weeden threw a 71-yard touchdown pass to Gordon.
The Browns were scoreless in the five first-half series in which Richardson carried. In the second half, after Hardesty took over as the main back, they scored touchdowns on successive series.
Page 3 of 4 - “Maybe I gave a little spark,” said Hardesty, whose eyes conveyed much more excitement than his words. “The offensive line was just blocking well.”
Richardson wound up with 37 yards on 14 carries. Behind the same line, Hardesty gained 56 yards on 15 carries
“I had a lot of pent-up emotions,” Hardesty said, “but it wasn’t as much as I thought it would be as the game went along.
“I just wanted to push for yards.”
THE NUMBERS GAME
• After a strong day against the Bengals, Cribbs is averaging 31.3 yards on kick returns and 15.4 yards on punt returns for 2012. His career averages coming in were 25.7 and 10.8.
• Cincinnati’s Green caught seven passes for 135 yards. Green has caught a touchdown pass longer than 40 yards in each of his two fourth quarters in Browns Stadium.
• After a three-catch, 99-yard game, the rookie Gordon leads the Browns with 274 receiving yards.
• In games at Cincinnati and Baltimore, Greg Little totaled nine catches for 134 yards. In his four other games, Little has five catches for 35 yards. That includes a three-catch, 18-yard game Sunday.
FOR THE DEFENSE
• D’Qwell Jackson played despite coming off a concussion. On the first snap of the game, he filled a gap at the line and put a ringing chest-to-chest hit on Green-Ellis.
“D’Qwell led the team, as he always does,” linebacker Kaluka Maiava said.
• Brown’s fourth-quarter pick six was the fourth of his 11-year career.
• Juqua Parker, an offseason pick-up who spent the last seven years with the Eagles, made his second sack of the season. Emmanuel Stephens, claimed off waivers (Falcons) in 2011, made his first NFL sack, and it was a big one, resulting in a fumble when the Bengals still had a chance to get back in the game.
• The Bengals milked 381 yards out of 46 passing attempts. They ran just 20 times, gaining 76 yards.
BOOTS OUT OF THE BLUE
Bengals punter Kevin Huber boomed a punt 62 yards to pin the Browns at their own 14 on their first possession. The defense had just opened with a three and out.
Was it the wind? Kicking the other way, Huber boomed a 65-yarder in the second quarter. Huber’s next punt sailed 57 yards.
Was it the Lake Erie water, or what? Coming into the game, Huber ranked 28th in the NFL with a 43.0 average.
MACK’S BUZZ KILL
Center Alex Mack wrecked the Browns’ momentum midway through the second quarter with an unsportsmanlike conduct foul at the end of a short Trent Richardson run.
The loss-of-down penalty led to the Browns punting from their own 20.
The Browns had just scored on a long pass and followed that with a quick defensive stop.
Page 4 of 4 - EXTRA POINTS
• Phil Dawson has connected on 18 straight field goals, including 12 this year after making two against the Bengals. Dawson’s last miss was a 55-yarder at Cincinnati last Nov. 27. It included an errant snap that cost Ryan Pontbriand his job.
• The Browns won the coin toss but opted to play defense rather than receive the opening kick. This seemed chancy, since they were without starting defensive tackles Phil Taylor and Ahtyba Rubin, and had three rookies in a rotation at that position.
• Hardesty made his first carry of the season with 1:53 left in the first quarter.
On the next play, Weeden tried to throw Owen Marecic his first completion of the year, but a little swing pass went right through the fullback’s hands.
Later, Marecic dropped another pass.