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Browns Can’t Finish; Blow 17-7 Halftime Lead and Fall Late 23-20 to Bengals

A tale of two halves to say the least.

A.J. Green’s 51-yard catch set up Mike Nugent’s game-winning field goal in the final minute, lifting the Bengals to a 23-20 win over the Browns on Sunday.

Green leaped to catch Andy Dalton’s high pass in the middle of the field, then raced to the right sideline before he was pushed out of bounds at the two-yard line.

Nugent’s 26-yard kick on fourth down gave Cincinnati its first lead of the game with 38 seconds left.

It came after Cleveland’s Phil Dawson missed a 55-yarder at the other end on a bad snap.

Dalton passed for 270 yards and a touchdown for the Bengals (7-4), who were coming off back-to-back losses to the two teams they’re battling to win the AFC North — Pittsburgh and Baltimore.

They will face both again before the end of the season.

All three of Green’s catches went for at least 24 yards and each one set up scores. He finished with 110 yards while Cedric Benson rushed for 106 yards and a score despite leaving the game several minutes before halftime with a leg injury.

Colt McCoy passed for 151 yards, two touchdowns and an interception for the Browns (4-7), who had Peyton Hillis back in the lineup for the first time in six games.

Hillis rushed 19 times for 65 yards, while wide receivers Jordan Norwood and Greg Little both scored their first NFL touchdowns. Norwood’s touchdown was Cleveland’s first TD in the first quarter this season.

Cleveland had leads of 17-7 and 20-10, but Cincinnati scored the last 13 points of the game.

McCoy was picked off by Reggie Nelson on the first play of the fourth quarter, and the Bengals turned it into Nugent’s 40-yard field goal to tie the game at 20-20.

The teams both punted twice before Dawson — after the snap hit a leg and skipped to the holder — missed short and left on his 55-yard try inside the two minute warning.

Dawson was 2-for-3 in the game, hitting a 54-yarder in the third quarter.

The Browns were spoiled at running back Sunday, considering how things have gone this season. Hillis, despite being ruled out last Monday, returned from a hamstring injury to play for the first time in six games.

Fellow running backs Montario Hardesty (calf) and Owen Marecic (head) were also active, but didn’t see any action. Chris Ogbonnaya, who rushed for a career-high 115 yards last week against the Jaguars, ran three times for 16 yards.

For Cincinnati, Benson appeared to injure his ankle when he was tripped up at the end of a 10-yard catch late in the second quarter. He was looked at by trainers and appeared to labor as he put weight on the leg, but came back in the second half.

Norwood caught a 24-yard touchdown pass just 4:05 into the game — Cleveland’s only first quarter TD of the season.

Benson was stopped on a 4th-and-1 play at the other end, but the Browns punted and Cincinnati struck quickly on a three-play drive, with Dalton throwing a 24-yard pass to Green and Benson slipping through a seam on the left side for a 16-yard touchdown to tie the game at 7-7.

The Browns got a 32-yard field goal from Dawson midway through the second quarter — it was barely good inside the left upright — and then converted a turnover into a late score before halftime.

First, Cleveland had an interception negated by a defensive holding penalty. But Dalton fumbled two plays later and McCoy hit Little in the left side of the end zone for a three-yard touchdown and 17-7 lead.

After Nugent kicked a 23-yard field goal to get Cincinnati within 17-10 on the first possession of the third quarter, Cleveland followed with a 54-yarder from Dawson.

But the Bengals came right back with a quick strike, pulling within 20-17 when Dalton hit Jermaine Gresham in tight coverage inside the right pylon for a 22- yard touchdown. The score was set up by Green’s 35-yard catch.



  1. Dan B.

    November 27, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    Way to go, another loss, nothing new. Why in heavens name did we not run the ball to run down the clock, oh that is right, we are the Browns and do not want to win, we just want to perpetuate our losing reputation and keep our fans beaten down. Hell that is the only thing the Browns can beat down, their fans!

    • Dotcommie

      November 28, 2011 at 12:38 pm

      Running the ball would have made Shurmur look like he did the last time they tried to run out the clock for a late game-winning FG. They just make too many mistakes to have a decent team.

      Haden’s coverage was tight, but AJ is tall and made a great catch. He’s a solid rookie, and that was the reason that the Browns had hoped that he would fall to them. It’s a shame the Browns couldn’t have gotten him. They would still have gotten Sheard, and might have picked up Little with their 3rd round pick (reasonably-likely) since he had been suspended for a year.

  2. Dan B.

    November 27, 2011 at 8:38 pm

    For those who want to blame Joe Haden, one man does not make a team.

  3. Denolakes

    November 27, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    AnotherTE torched them again today. Rushing 4 brought much too much pressure against this OL. Pashos gets beat far too much. Little is much too inconsistent . . . dropped passes are mo killers – and he drops way too many. But, with a running game, the passes are there. Where is Evan Moore? McCoy’s int was just a horrible decision – as was the last FG attempt. Draft or F A: RT, WR, CB, OLB.

  4. Steve

    November 28, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    I for one have to place blame everywhere. First, if you can’t catch a football,play another sport. If you don’t know what color your uniform is, don’t throw the football. If you can’t block, get out of the offensive line. If you don’t have an imagination,don’t be calling offensive plays because they are getting offensive.And,finally, give the defense a chance to make plays. Giving receivers too much cushion will destroy you every time. You have some good looking players. Let them show you what they can do!!

    • Dotcommie

      November 28, 2011 at 12:45 pm

      You had me up until the end.

      This team has already shown what it can do: It can make enough mistakes to lose almost every game they play.

      With a good QB, AJ Green could become the next Charles Johnson. He’s gonna take excellent double-coverage to stop. He gets open, makes tough catches and has plenty of speed. The Browns could use a player like him, plus someone who can accurately throw to him.

      We don’t have either right now. Actually, we’ve only had that one year of the past 12 years: Braylon Edwards’ rookie year.

      • denolakes

        November 29, 2011 at 1:47 pm

        IMO, the biggest problem is coaching . . .

  5. Steve

    November 29, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    I agree with Dotcommie about Haden. He is by far their best, but he does get beat a lot by watching the receiver too long. The rest give too much room to the opponents. Their defensive scheme has to give tighter coverage and give more pressure and keep the other quarterbacks from gaining all that rushing yardage. My high school team had more interceptions than we do. Another big problem is we have Braylon Edward’s twin/

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