The Battle of Ohio wasn’t as one-sided as some may have predicted. The Cleveland Browns looked like a different team than in Week 1. So did the Cincinnati Bengals.
Andy Dalton had some clutch plays in the fourth quarter to help lift the Bengals (1-1) to a thrilling 34-27 home-opening win. That evens out Cincy’s division record and sends Cleveland (0-2) to the bottom of the AFC North.
But this contest was tight to its core, so here are five things to take away from Sunday’s game.
- Brandon Weeden is a smart player. It’s obvious the 28-year-old rookie knows how to lead a team. Stats don’t lie. Weeden tossed 26 passes to eight different receivers for 322 yards and two touchdowns. And no interceptions. Weeden is well on his way to do good things in Cleveland.
- The wide receiver depth on the Bengals’ roster is unreal. Dalton completed 24 throws at 10.4 yards per toss. Two of his touchdown passes were for 40+ yards – to Brandon Tate and Andrew Hawkins, respectively – who did some fancy footwork to the end zone. Watch out, A.J. Green.
- The Browns are still young and undisciplined. Cleveland has the second-most rookies in the league (15) and it shows. The Browns had 10 penalties for 103 yards, most of which were amateur mistakes – holding, neutral zone infraction, off sides. This was the real difference-maker in the game.
- Cincinnati can convert a third down when it’s necessary. The Bengals were 4-for-12 on third-down attempts Sunday. But remember those two 40+ yard touchdowns? Yep, both were on third-and-long. Dalton reads the field well when he and his team are under pressure to make something happen.
- Trent Richardson was a good pick for Cleveland. He powered his way to 5.7 yards per carry, caught four passes for 36 yards and was smart about reading his blocks. And Richardson is the first Browns rookie to run for more than 100 yards and pick up rushing and receiving scores in the same game.
Both teams have the potential to make a big impact this season. Much of that depends on how their defenses can step up in the oncoming weeks. Only time will tell where the Ohio franchises end up.