Originally written September 18, 2012 on The Sports Headquarters:
CINCINNATI (34) d CLEVELAND (27) The Headline: Dalton’s big day gives Bengals bragging rights in Ohio The Story: For a game between two teams that looked down on their luck, this one was a surprisingly entertaining game to watch as it was relatively even throughout the day and had its share of big plays. After the Bengals first drive stalled, Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones electrified the crowd with a dazzling punt return which saw him go 81 yards for a touchdown to give the home crowd something to cheer about (the ones who showed up anyway). Browns rookie/token pensioner Brandon Weeden looked a lot more composed this week and he wasn’t afraid to push the ball downfield when given the opportunity to while Trent Richardson had some nice moves on his way to 109 yards. For the Bengals their offense performed exactly how it was expected to, the passing game produced big plays (from unlikely sources like Brandon Tate and Armon Binns) that moved the chains and scored all the offensive touchdowns. 14 of the Bengals 17 offensive first downs came through the air while the ground game had a solid but unspectacular day as BenJarvus Green-Ellis did his normal thing gaining 3.6 yards and a cloud of dust (or rubber pellets as the field may have). The game was won in the first half as the Bengals were able to build up the lead they would not relinquish and simply match the output of the Browns in the second half. Key Stat: Cleveland 10 penalties for 103 yards, Cincinnati 6 for 54 With a flag happy crew working this game as the players try to adjust to the replacement officials the Browns paid the price with too many penalties for big yardage costing them here. Key Play: A.J. Green recovers onside kick with 20 seconds left. With the Browns having brought themselves back to within one score of the Bengals, they tried an onside kick in an effort to give themselves a Hail Mary hope but the man with the safest hands on the team A.J. Green was there to get the ball and secure the Bengals win. Man of the Match: Andy Dalton 24/31, 318 yards, 3 touchdowns It wasn’t always pretty but Dalton had a great game spreading the ball around to his receivers as all six pass catchers recorded multiple receptions on the afternoon. Taking six sacks would not have helped him much but despite the punishment he managed to maintain his composure and put together a solid game throwing for three touchdowns.
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