Andy Dalton, Bengals quarterback
He’s not Ben Roethlisberger or Joe Flacco, but he’s dominated the Browns nonetheless throughout his career. Despite a couple of memorable clunkers, Dalton is 11-3 in the Battle of Ohio after the win Sunday.
He’s completed 64.3 percent for 2,994 yards, 26 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and a 96.2 rating against the Browns. In a Cincinnati sweep this season, he completed 71.4 percent for 500 yards, six touchdowns, no interceptions and a 134.3 rating.
On Sunday, he had coordinator Gregg Williams’ defense solved. When the Browns went with an extra defensive back, Dalton handed off. When the Browns used their base defense with three linebackers, he took advantage through the air.
“Andy did a great job of directing the offense and throwing it when he needed to, along with handing it off when the look was correct,” coach Marvin Lewis said.
Briean Boddy-Calhoun, Browns defensive back
On a defense and team desperate for plays to be made, Boddy-Calhoun had at least four chances for big ones and came up empty. Instead of changing the game and possibly the Browns’ fortunes, it was more of the same.
He jumped a bubble screen on Cincinnati’s first drive, but the pass was hard and behind him and he couldn’t make the interception. The Bengals went on to score a touchdown on the drive when he was late in coverage on an 8-yard pass down the seam.
In the fourth quarter, Boddy-Calhoun broke toward the sideline and got both hands on a Dalton pass but couldn’t pull it in. He also timed a run blitz perfectly on first-and-10 but whiffed on the tackle of running back Joe Mixon, who was able to get back to the line of scrimmage rather than take a 4-yard loss. It preceded the pivotal penalty on safety Jabrill Peppers that led to the clinching touchdown.
Boddy-Calhoun has been asked to play nickelback and safety this season. He plays hard but is often out of control.
“We’ve got to make those plays,” coach Hue Jackson said. “We just haven’t made those plays this year.”
PLAY OF THE GAME
The route was perfect and so was the pass. The catch? Not so much.
Receiver Corey Coleman got past cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick and safety Josh Shaw on a post route on second-and-20 from the Cincinnati 29-yard line with 5:24 left in the third quarter and the Bengals in front 23-6. DeShone Kizer hit him in stride, but Coleman allowed the ball to hit his facemask and carom away.
The Browns settled for a field goal when they couldn’t afford to miss out on touchdowns.
“Obviously it’s unfortunate,” Jackson said. “Corey knows he’s got to make that play. It’s so important, because that changes the game. We’ve just got to keep working at it.”
Kizer said he didn’t need to say anything to Coleman after the drop.
“He’s a guy who’s obviously going to hold himself to high standards,” Kizer said. “I told him that the only thing I wanted to say was in that same situation, I’m going to throw you the exact same ball and you’re going to make the play. And we expect him to make that play every time he steps out there.”
STATS OF THE GAME
Turnovers for both teams
Yards per rush for the Bengals. The Browns defense entered the game leading the league with 3.1 yards allowed per rush.
QUOTE OF THE GAME
“This team has continued to show the fight that we have. This is an awesome group to be with. It’s an awesome locker room to be in. I’m very proud to be a part of this 2017 Cleveland Browns team because they continue to push, they continue to fight, and it allows me to be motivated to go out there and continue to do as much as I can to get a win for those guys.” — Browns quarterback DeShone Kizer
DeShone Kizer played a clean game after four turnovers last week and threw for a career-high 268 yards despite missing a series to be evaluated for a concussion. He was again hurt by drops from his receivers. The Browns rushed for 169 yards and a 5.5 average.
Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton and running back Joe Mixon provided the touchdowns that were the difference in the game.
Gregg Williams and his crew had no answers as they were caught in the wrong personnel package all day.
The Bengals had four sacks and 11 quarterback hits and were stingy in the red zone, holding the Browns to one touchdown in four trips.
Zane Gonzalez missed an early field goal but made three. He had a 16-yard punt in emergency duty.
Adam Jones’s punt return for a touchdown was wiped out by a penalty. Randy Bullock made all three field goal tries.
Hue Jackson tied John McKay for the worst start with a team in coaching history. At least his offense looked better — until it reached the red zone.
Marvin Lewis has the Bengals hanging around the playoff picture despite a terrible start to the season.