Browns treat fans to 32-13 Halloween thriller over Bengals to improve to 3-5 and snap their 4 game streak
CLEVELAND, Ohio — When your star quarterback Myles Garrett walks into a Monday night Halloween game dressed as the evil Vecna from Stranger Things, you better bring him.
Garrett et al Browns did just that in a 32-13 loss Bengals at FirstEnergy Stadium filled with flashing orange lights, a thriller halftime show and everything these home fans have wanted to see from their team all season.
Snapping a four-game losing streak, the Browns improved to 3-5 overall and 2-1 in the division, breathing new life into their season heading into the bye week. They also sent the Bengals home at 4-4 and 0-3 in the AFC North. Joe Burrow, who led the Bengals to the Super Bowl last season and has been on a tear this year, fell to 0-4 against the Browns in his career.
It was reminiscent of the Bengals’ 41-16 loss in Cincinnati on Nov. 7 last year.
Garrett, who entered the stadium in his scary costume and had a mock-up of Burrow on Vecna’s tentacles in his front yard, said in the headline “I like our chances” because of their potential to make Burrow uncomfortable and upset him throughout the game.
He also stated that the Browns planned to ‘put him in the dirt’ to win. Garrett set the tone with a button pass that led to a Burrow pick by AJ Green on his first drive, then followed it up with a sack that served as notice that the Browns had come to play. He finished with 1 1/2 sacks for 7 1/2 on the season.
Garrett also vowed to ’empty the tank’ and urged his teammates to do the same. They happily responded and FirstEnergy rocked from start to finish.
The defense, which played by far its best game of the season despite the absence of Denzel Ward (concussion) and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (knee), made Burrow look more like a rookie for much of the game instead of a Super Bowl QB like . Playing without his star receiver in Ja’Marr Chase (hip), Burrow completed 25 of 35 attempts for 232 yards with 2 touchdowns and 1 interception, and was sacked five times. Martin Emerson — three sacks — and Sione Takitaki (sack fumble) were among those who had big games.
The quarterback who looked more like he played in the Super Bowl last season was Jacoby Brissett, who made good on his recent promise to get better. Brissett was 17-of-22 for 278 yards with 1 TD for a 133.7 rating.
Amari Cooper, playing against a depleted Bengals secondary, was outstanding, going 5 of 7 for 131 yards and a TD. He threw an interception on a trick play, but made up for it with one spectacular catch after another, including one for a 4-yard TD that made it 25-0 with 3:10 left in the third.
Cooper also caught a 53-yarder that led to Nick Chubb’s second TD, an 11-yarder that made it 32-6 with 8:46 left.
Chubb was just as outstanding, rushing for 101 yards on 23 carries and two TDs. Kareem Hunt, who had no idea if it was his last game at FirstEnergy Stadium, had 72 all-purpose yards.
Donovan Peoples-Jones had one of his usual big games against the Bengals, catching all four of his targets for 81 yards. The Browns, who led 11-0 at halftime, stormed out of the locker room in the third quarter and extended their lead to 18-0 on a 3-yard run down the left side by Brissett, who had his best game of the season. The drive included a 26-yard pass to a wide-open Peoples-Jones and a 21-yard run to a wide-open Chubb.
The defense forced a three-and-out, and the Browns came back and scored on a 4-yard catch by Cooper, who also had a 27-yarder on the drive, to make it 25-0 with 3:10 left in the third quarter .
Up until that point, the Browns had dominated and the Bengals had no answer.
The Bengals avoided a shutout on Tyler Boyd’s 13-yard touchdown catch with 14:15 left in the game, but tight end Evan McPherson, who had missed an earlier 47-yarder, sent the extra point wide right. Tee Higgins caught a 41-yard TD to cut the deficit to 32-13 with 6:40 remaining.
The Browns led 11-0 at halftime after Chubb ran 3 yards on a direct hit and a 55-yard field goal by Cade York as time expired in the half. Chubb also ran in two for a score after his touchdown.
It was a wild first half that featured great Browns defense, an interception by Cooper, a fumble by Brissett, an interception and fumble by Burrow, a blocked field goal by York and a missed field goal by McPherson.
Amazingly, neither team managed to score on any of those four turnovers.
Burrow was sacked on the first play against the Browns for the third straight game, but the pick fizzled when York’s 53-yard field goal attempt was blocked. It was his second straight block, following a game-tying attempt at the end of last week’s 23-20 loss to the Ravens.
Green picked off the pass after Garrett threw it. Garrett sparked the next drive with an 8-yard sack of Burrow, who was sacked three times in the first half alone.
The Browns got fancy on their next trick drive, but Cooper’s pass intended for Michael Woods II was intercepted by Vonn Bell for his fourth of the season. Fortunately for Cooper, the defense forced a three-and-out.
The Browns finally got on the scoreboard after Chubb scampered 3 yards after another trick play – a direct snap. Brissett stood behind center as if to shoot, but pointed to his right and Chubb leaped forward for the score. The Bengals had 12 players on the field for the extra point and the Browns opted for two. Chubb scored to make it 8-0 with 5:04 left in the half.
Takitaki sacked Burrow on the ensuing drive, but instead of cashing in, Brissett was sacked himself when Bell ran into the offense. The Bengals started at their own 49, and marched to the 29, but McPherson’s 47-yard attempt at the end of the Dawg Pound was wide right.
The Browns took over at their own 37 with 40 seconds left in the half, and Brissett completed passes of 12 and 14 yards to Hunt and David Bell to the Bengals’ 47. York scampered a 55-yard field goal through the middle of the uprights to extend the Browns’ lead to 11-0 as time expired.
The lights dimmed and FirstEnergy Stadium and the Thriller halftime series broke out. It matched the team’s performance.
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