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4 Turning Points: Red zone remains trouble spot for Browns offense

CINCINNATI -- Analyzing four key moments from the Browns’ 30-16 loss to the Bengals.

  1. The Browns moved the ball as well as they have all season in Sunday’s first quarter, piling up 140 yards of offense thanks largely to a strong running game.

Costly penalties in prime scoring position, though, limited the effort to just three points.

An offensive pass interference penalty by David Njoku on second-and-goal from the Bengals’ 11 pushed Cleveland back 10 yards and ultimately led to a Zane Gonzalez field goal to cap the opening drive.

Trailing 7-3, the Browns were similarly effective on offense on the next series, taking over at the 21-yard line and moving to Cincinnati’s 20 after a 44-yard DeShone Kizer pass to Corey Coleman and a 13-yard run by Duke Johnson Jr. The Browns went backward from there after a 15-yard taunting penalty by wide receiver Bryce Treggs.

Gonzalez missed the 43-yard field goal attempt to keep the score at 7-3 heading into the second quarter.

  1. The Bengals came into Sunday’s game ranked last in the NFL in rushing offense but were able to get rolling behind Joe Mixon and a rejuvenated ground attack to score their first touchdown.

Mixon, the second-round rookie, ran for 29 yards on the drive, with the majority coming on a 19-yard scamper. Giovani Bernard added an 11-yarder, which directly preceded Andy Dalton’s 8-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Boyd.

Mixon finished with 165 total yards of offense, and the Bengals rushed for a season-best 152.

  1. At different points in the first half, Kizer and punter Britton Colquitt were sent to the locker room to be evaluated for concussions. Both were cleared to return, but their brief absences were felt.

With Cody Kessler at quarter, the Browns went backward 9 yards on a three-and-out. The subsequent punt gave the Bengals a short field, and they were able to add three points to the score despite gaining just one first down on the drive.

Colquitt, who took a hard hit on the aforementioned punt, wasn’t back in time to punt following another Browns three-and-out. Gonzalez handled it and was only able to muster a 16-yarder that went out of bounds. The Bengals took over at Cleveland’s 45 and picked up another field goal to extend the lead, 16-6.

Fortunately for the Browns, Colquitt returned just in time to hold for a Gonzalez field goal at the end of the half.

  1. The Browns’ best drive of the game gave them a chance midway through the fourth quarter.

Kizer capped the impressive, 15-play possession with a 3-yard quarterback draw run on fourth-and-goal to get Cleveland within a score, 23-16. Kizer made two big throws on the drive, connecting with Kenny Britt on a 38-yard pass and Rashard Higgins on a 22-yarder to put the Browns inside the 10-yard line.

The Browns needed a stop to give the ball back to their rookie quarterback. It didn’t happen, as Mixon picked up the game-sealing touchdown to cap a seven-play, 75-yard drive.

The Browns nearly had the Bengals off the field when Jabrill Peppers broke up a deep, third-down pass intended for Josh Malone. Officials, though, ruled Peppers’ hit to be unnecessary roughness, and Cincinnati was in the end zone just a couple of plays later.

The Browns play the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 12.

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