The first game in the Pat Shurmur era as head coach of the Cleveland Browns did not go as planned. Too many penalties, too many mistakes and the Browns were ‘quick snapped’ at the end of the game. It all adds up to a 27-17 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday at Browns Stadium.
Shurmur said “We made a season full of mistakes in the first quarter. We made seven penalties in the first quarter. No excuses. I don’t care if you’re a rookie, been in this thing 12 years, I don’t care if it’s you’re last game. There’s a lot of unforced errors there.”
The Bengals jumped on the Browns in the first quarter. Cincinnati stopped the Browns on their opening drive of the game, forcing a punt. The Bengals took over on the Cleveland 41. Rookie quarterback Andy Dalton directed the Bengals to the 6 yard line where the drive stalled. Mike Nugent came on and kicked a 24-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead.
Cincinnati jumped out to a 10-0 lead on their next series of downs. The Bengals moved 41 yards in seven plays. Dalton hit tight end Jermaine Gresham on a crossing pattern from two yards out.
The Bengals stretched the lead to 13-0 on their next possession. Mike Nugent finished off the drive with a field goal from 47 yards.
The Browns needed a spark, and they got one from Josh Cribbs. Fielding the kickoff 8-yards deep in the end zone, Cribbs returned it 51 yards to the Browns 43 yard line. In four plays, the Browns were in the end zone. Colt McCoy hit tight end Benjamin Watson with a 34-yard TD pass to close the gap to 13-7.
The spark was felt by the Browns defense as well. They forced the Bengals into a three-and-out and the offense got rolling. A nine-play, 90 yard drive by McCoy ended with a two-yard touchdown pass to Evan Moore. The biggest in the drive was a 56-yard hook-up between McCoy and Mohammed Massaquoi.
The half ended with the Browns holding onto a 14-13 lead.
Cleveland extended the lead to 17-13 on a 20-yard field goal by Phil Dawson early in the third quarter.
It was all Cincinnati in the fourth quarter. Cincinnati back-up quarterback Bruce Gradkowski caught the Browns defense napping. He ‘quick-snapped ‘ the play and unloaded a 41-yard touchdown pass to rookie A.J. Green, who beat defensive back Joe Haden to give Cincinnati a 20-17 lead.
Gradkowski came on in the third quarter to replace Dalton, who suffered a right wrist injury.
The Bengals wrapped it up with 1:49 to go on a 39 yard touchdown run by Cedric Benson to make the final score 27-17.
In his post-game news conference, Shurmur said “There’s a lot of things we have to learn from this. I’m disappointed for the team, and for the players. But, I told them that this will only be fatal if we let it be. There’s plenty of things to clean up.”
INSIDE THE NUMBERS:
Cincinnati 10 – 3 – 0 – 14 = 27
Cleveland 0 – 14 – 3 – 0 = 17
Bengals – Mike Nugent 24 yard field goal 8:20
Bengals – Jermaine Gresham 2 yard pass from Andy Dalton (Nugent Kick) 2:22
Bengals – Nugent 47 yard field goal 11:30
Browns – Benjamin Watson 34 yard pass from Colt McCoy (Phil Dawson kick) 9:17
Browns – Evan Moore 2 yard pass from McCoy (Dawson Kick) 4:14
Browns – Dawson 20 yard field goal 8:36
Bengals – A. Green 41 yard pass from Bruce Gradkowski (Nugent kick) 4:28
Bengals – Cedric Benson 39 yard run (Nugent Kick) 1:49