What We Saw: Bengals at Browns

A spooky night of football led to an unexpected winner in this Monday night matchup

Bengals @ Browns

Final Score: Browns 32, Bengals 13

Writer: Ryan Radel (@RadelFF on Twitter)

 

Happy Halloween! The Browns played a trick on the AFC North by winning this game and shaking up the standings even more. It’s going to be a wild ride for that division if this keeps up. As is recent tradition, the Browns stuck it to the Bengals on primetime. To stay with the spirit of today, I wanted to share this clip of James Hudson dressed up as the Undertaker as he sends #59 on the Bengals to the afterlife:

I’m a big fan of offensive line play, and this made me feel a type of way.

 

 

Cincinnati Bengals

 

Quarterback

 

Joe Burrow: 25/35, 232 Yards, 2 TD, INT, 5 Sacks | 1 Carry, 2 Yards, 1 Fumble (Lost)

 

Joe Burrow is feeling the absence of his #1 receiver Ja’Marr Chase. Statistically it wasn’t that bad, but it was hard to watch at times. Two turnovers on top of five sacks from your quarterback spells doom. While he was accurate on paper, Burrow struggled throughout the game as he was basically running for his life once they fell behind after being shut out for three quarters. Not many receivers seemed to be winning their routes, and when they did, the defense recovered and broke it up. It was ugly, but Burrow is still a stud quarterback that can extend plays:

 

Running Back

 

Joe Mixon: 8 Carries, 27 Yards | 9 Targets, 7 Receptions, 32 Yards

Samaje Perine: 1 Carry, 7 Yards | 3 Targets, 3 Receptions, 10 Yards

Chris Evans: 1 Target, 1 Reception, 26 Yards

 

Considering how absolutely terrible the Browns have been at stopping the run this season, it’s odd to see a team call less than ten run plays against them- but, that’s exactly what the Bengals did. The position was targeted a total of 13 times in the passing game which bumped up the total touches, but 34 yards on the ground is typically never going to be a good sign for an offense. Joe Mixon found no space to run as the Browns defensive ends were finally both healthy and able to set an edge all game. He did bring in seven of nine targets for 32 yards which added tremendous value in PPR formats. Don’t expect those targets to be maintained, especially once Chase returns.  Samaje Perine didn’t add much either. Chris Evans took advantage of his limited time on the field by bringing in his lone target for a 26 yard gain.

 

Wide Receiver/Tight End

 

Tee Higgins: 6 Targets, 3 Receptions, 49 Yards, TD

Hayden Hurst: 4 Targets, 4 Receptions, 42 Yards

Tyler Boyd: 5 Targets, 3 Receptions, 38 Yards, TD

Trenton Irwin: 3 Targets, 2 Receptions, 27 Yards

Trent Taylor: 1 Target, 1 Reception, 5 Yards

Mitchell Wilcox: 1 Target, 1 Reception, 3 Yards

Mike Thomas: 1 Target

 

As previously mentioned, this group simply isn’t the same without Ja’Marr Chase. When he isn’t the target on the play, he’s drawing doubles and taking the top off of the defense every play. Without that presence, the Bengals receivers weren’t as threatening overall which allowed the Browns to stuff the run. A myriad of receivers contributed as Burrow spread it out, with Mike Thomas, Mitchell Wilcox, Trent Taylor, and Trenton Irwin receiving six targets among them, bringing in four for meager gains. Hayden Hurst was reliable but nothing special, bringing in all of his four targets for 42 yards. Tyler Boyd did his best to fill the void left by Ja’Marr, but didn’t manage to do much of anything until the fourth quarter where he brought in a 13 yard pass for a score. Otherwise, he was smothered. Tee Higgins had the most to gain as the number one wideout for the Bengals, and would’ve generally failed to deliver if it wasn’t for a touchdown in the fourth quarter with around 6:30 left. The game was already out of reach when both Boyd and Higgins brought in their touchdowns, but it’s still cool to see Tee do stuff like this:

 

“Thank you little man”

 

Cleveland Browns

 

Quarterback

 

Jacoby Brissett: 17/22, 278 Yards, TD | 6 Carries, 12 Yards, TD, 1 Fumble (Lost)

 

After a couple a rough weeks, Jacoby Brissett looked much better this week. Decision making and poise stand out the most, as Brissett had excellent pocket presence all game as he took care of the ball, for the most part. Brissett accounted for two scores, one of which was a scramble where he laid out to hit the pylon with the ball before launching out of bounds on a rather athletic looking scramble. His other score was this absolute dime to Cooper in the corner of the end zone in the third quarter. Cooper and Brissett definitely have a connection, and it’s on full display during home games:

 

Running Back

 

Nick Chubb: 23 Carries, 101 Yards, 2 TD | 1 Target, 1 Reception, 3 Yards

Kareem Hunt: 11 Carries, 42 Yards | 4 Targets, 4 Receptions, 30 Yards

D’Ernest Johnson: 4 Carries, 17 Yards

 

With Kareem Hunt rumored to be available on the trade block, he was an utter afterthought in this matchup. He touched the ball 15 times and garnered 72 scrimmage yards, which is a respectable stat line. Kareem was utilized more as a change-of-pace/receiving back rather than sharing duties in the usual faux-committee backfield we’ve seen in the past. Kareem always runs hard, but nothing spectacular tonight. Kareem’s backfield partner, Nicholas Jamaal Chubb, looked like his true self after a few disappointing weeks. Chubb had 24 designed touches on the night and he delivered. As Tony Pollard recently was quoted “You call it, I’mma haul it.” Chubb was on fire, running with ferocity on both inside and outside runs all night. His combination of burst and power are simply incredible. His ceiling is going to be even higher if the Browns keep calling plays like this:

 

Wide Receiver/Tight End

 

Amari Cooper: 7 Targets, 5 Receptions, 131 Yards, TD | 0/1, INT

Donovan Peoples-Jones: 4 Targets, 4 Receptions, 81 Yards

David Bell: 2 Targets, 2 Receptions, 27 Yards

Michael Woods II: 2 Targets, 1 Reception, 6 Yards

 

The Browns certainly felt the loss of blossoming tight end David Njoku, who is sidelined for a few weeks with a high ankle sprain suffered last week. Harrison Bryant tried his best to fill in, but was mostly used as a blocker. Bryant surprisingly ended the game with zero targets, after the position was targeted several times per game leading up to this matchup. It’s clear Njoku is a major part of the typical game plan, as the position is ignored when he’s out. Rookie wideouts David Bell and Michael Woods II brought in all three of their combined targets that would’ve otherwise been sent Njoku’s way based on previous playcalling. Donovan Peoples-Jones continues to be a rather consistent wideout as he caught four balls for 81 yards, rewarding his PPR fantasy managers with a double digit day. The standout, as usual for Browns home games, was Amari Cooper. Although he failed to bring in two targets, he secured the other five for 131 yards and a score as he helped put the nail in the coffin in the third quarter. He’s simply a smooth operator:

Let’s just not talk about the silly trick play the Browns called that ended up with Cooper throwing a pick. That was a Halloween trick.

 

I hope Halloween brought you more treats rather than tricks. Thank you again for reading! Good luck next week!

 

Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@justparadesigns on Twitter)

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