The Cleveland Browns finished the season on a high note with a win against the Cincinnati Bengals. The defense played well and the offense did just enough
This promising Cleveland Browns season ended Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals as they won 21-16 and finished the year at 8-9. What was supposed to be a great season of more firsts and a second run through the playoffs ended quietly. Now the team will have all offseason to try and work out the kinks and make a new run at getting back to the postseason next year.
The Browns were without their starting quarterback Baker Mayfield, who will be undergoing shoulder surgery later this month. Their backup quarterback Case Keenum started in his place. The game started well in the first half for the team. After stumbling on a couple of drives to start, Cleveland started moving the ball better.
Nick Chubb started the game out at running back and he got going on their first scoring drive. He had a couple of nice runs of six and 14 yards. Keenum was also good in the drive as he hit wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones for 22 yards and then hit the wide receiver, Jarvis Landry, for a nice 26-yard touchdown.
The Browns expanded their lead to 14-0 after they had another nice six-play drive mixing the run and pass and eventually scored on running back D’Ernest Johnson’s four-yard scamper for a touchdown.
Cleveland Browns turnovers threatened to wreck the day
Things looked good for Cleveland at that point, but then the wheels started falling off, especially for Keenum. First, in a simple rollout play, Keenum had the ball knocked free and he fumbled the ball that was then recovered by the Bengals and run back for a defensive touchdown.
Then on a drive right before halftime, Keenum marched the team down to the goal line, but he threw an interception in the endzone and ended a chance for the team to expand the lead.
The second half wasn’t much better for the Browns offense. They again were driving early in the fourth quarter and looked in position to score points, but on a fourth down and goal, Browns coach Kevin Stefanski, once again made a poor decision in going for it and the team failed to convert when Keenum threw a bad pass for the receiver.
However, the offense finally had one more scoring drive in them as they drove 46 yards on a long six-minute drive that was capped off with a touchdown throw to running back Demetric Felton for 10 yards. That made the lead 21-10.
D’Ernest Johnson was outstanding as he took most of the rushing load on this day. He finished with 123 yards on 25 carries. He subbed in for Chubb, who finished his game with 58 yards on nine carries. Johnson certainly made the most of his opportunities this season. That was his second 100-yard performance of the year.
As for Keenum, he did just enough to get the win. He went 17 for 24 and 176 yards with two touchdowns.
Cleveland Browns defense steps up
The Cleveland defense was also tough as nails throughout the game. They only allowed 65 yards of total offense by the Bengals in the first half. Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney had a great first half as he recorded two sacks. One of them included a forced fumble as he almost was able to recover.
Linebacker Jordan Phillips also had a sack and registered nine tackles. The Browns leader on defense, Myles Garrett, added one more sack onto his career-best 16 for the season.
The second half for the Cleveland defense went well too. They gave up only a field goal early in the half. They did finally give up a touchdown with just over two minutes to play but were solid overall.
For a team that seemed like they would have a high-powered offense this season, it was the defense that kept the Browns’ chances alive until this bitter end.
Now Cleveland will regroup and work to improve their chances at getting to a Super Bowl next year. The 8-9 finish wasn’t ideal but they did at least end on a high note.