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Browns Haunt Bengals in Halloween Matchup

The Cincinnati Bengals did not enjoy their Halloween when they showed up to the Cleveland Browns house. The Browns defense took the Bengals candy and the offense proceeded to trick them repeatedly after getting off to a slow start.
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Myles Garrett tipped a pass that resulted in an A.J. Green interception on the opening drive of the game and never looked back against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals wouldn't find their way onto the scoreboard until the fourth quarter as the Browns slaughtered a Bengals team without wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase, 32-13.

The Browns defense terrorized Joe Burrow, sacking him five times, deflecting six passes and causing a pair of turnovers on the night. Burrow threw a pair of touchdown passes in the fourth quarter garbage time touchdowns, finishing 25 for 35 with 232 yards, the two touchdowns and the interception.

The defensive unit down several starters played fast, swarmed to the football and tackled as well as it has at any point this season. The Bengals running game was non-existent, so the game was all on Burrow.

Garrett was credited with 1.5 sacks on the night but his best play of the night involved embarrassing Bengals left tackle Jonah Williams. Despite having help from a running back to his outside, Garrett rushed up field, stuck his foot in the ground and spun inside getting to Burrow while Williams was sent reeling. Williams didn't fare much better when rookie defensive end Isaiah Thomas blew by him for a sack of his own.

Sione Takitaki was able to force a sack fumble after initially ending up past Burrow on a blitz, then reaching back to knock the ball out of Burrow's arm as he tried to load up a throw. It was recovered by defensive tackle Tommy Togiai. Newly acquired linebacker Deion Jones recorded his first sack with the team.

Offensively, the game started ugly for the Browns. After Green's interception, the Browns moved the ball into Bengals territory but had to settle for a long field goal attempt. Cade York's 53-yard attempt was blocked.

On their next drive, they tried a reverse pass with wide receiver Amari Cooper. Although rookie wide receiver Michael Woods II was wide open, Cooper was hit as he attempted to make the throw and it went right to Bengals safety Vonn Bell. Those two miscues contributed to only the second scoreless first quarter of the Browns this season. The other was their opening game against the Carolina Panthers. The Browns won both games.

After the game, Cooper said of his throw, "It was an abomination."

The Bengals were unable to take advantage of the Browns mistakes, keeping the game scoreless. Like most teams, the Bengals tried to put all of their energy into stopping running Nick Chubb, finding success early. They had some success against generating pressure on Jacoby Brissett as well which resulted in a lost fumble.

Brissett found Cooper for receptions of 29 and 18 yards respectively with several runs thrown into the mix. When the Browns inside the five, they motioned Brissett out wide and directly snapped the ball to Chubb who ran for a 3-yard touchdown over the right guard. A Bengals penalty emboldened them to go for two. They went back to Chubb who converted over the left guard.

After Bengals kicker Evan McPherson missed a 47-yard field goal attempt, the Browns got the ball at their own 37 with 40 seconds to go. Brissett found Kareem Hunt for a 12-yard gain before taking their final timeout. David Bell caught a 14-yard reception before the Browns hurried up and spiked the ball, setting up 2nd-and-10 from the Bengal 37 with 16 seconds left. Two incomplete passes later, the Browns sent out York, this time from 55 yards. This time, York was true giving the Browns an 11-0 lead heading into the half.

Starting with the ball in the second half, the Browns came out running the ball. Chubb ran for nine yards on the first two plays before Brissett tried a sneak that was initially knocked backward on 3rd-and-1. Hjalte Froholdt, the team's right guard pushed the pile like a sled and it got the Browns three yards and a first down. 

After a swing route to Chubb to the right, Brissett found Donovan Peoples-Jones on a deep cross wide open for 26 yards. The Browns would run the ball four more times, twice with Hunt and twice with Chubb before Brissett dropped back to pass on the Bengals 3-yard line. After not finding anyone open, he rolled to the left and won the race to the pylon, giving the Browns an 18-0 lead.

The Browns added two more touchdowns on the night before they were done. One to Cooper on an easy goal line fade and then Chubb would score his second of the night. He finished with 101 yards on 23 carries and the two touchdowns.

Cooper threw the ugly interception, but he made up for it with five receptions for 131 yards and a touchdown. The most spectacular was a 53-yard reception when Brissett found him deep over the top behind two Bengal defenders. Cooper plucked the ball cleanly out of the air with outstretched arms just inches above the ground.

Donovan Peoples-Jones finished with four receptions for 81 yards. Taking advantage of a beleaguered secondary that came into the game without starting corner Eli Apple to then see Chido Awuzie leave the game with what appeared to be a serious knee injury before the half. Tre Flowers was later ruled out with a hamstring injury, Cooper and DPJ averaged a combined 19.2 yards per target. Brissett completed 17 of his 22 passes for 278 yards and a touchdown.

Despite being down players including corner Denzel Ward, tight end David Njoku and linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, the Browns were able to put together a complete win against their in-state rivals and a division opponent, moving their record to 3-5. Now, they head into a bye week where they hope to get healthier as they prepare for the second half of the season while Burrow has to live with the fact he's now 0-4 against the Browns.