The Browns rewarded a sellout crowd with another lights-out performance against the Bengals.
Playing before one of the biggest late December crowds in recent memory at FirstEnergy Stadium, the Browns rode a big second quarter to a 26-18 victory. The win checked off plenty of boxes for the surging Browns, who moved to 7-7-1 with their third straight victory and fifth in their last six.
– The Browns clinched a winning record in the AFC North for the first time since its creation in 2002. Cleveland is 3-1-1 heading into its season finale at Baltimore.
– Cleveland swept the Bengals for the first time since 2002.
– Cleveland’s three-game winning streak is its first since the midpoint of the 2014 season.
– The Browns closed out their home slate with a record of 5-2-1, marking their best record at FirstEnergy Stadium since 2007.
– The Browns clinched a finish of third place or better in the AFC North.
Browns rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield led a methodical, time-consuming Browns offense by completing 27-of-37 passes for 284 yards and three touchdowns. Mayfield has 24 touchdown passes on the season, making him just two shy of the NFL’s single-season rookie record.
Nick Chubb powered the Browns on ground with 112 yards, his fourth 100-yard game of the season. He took over the Browns’ single-season rushing record — previously held by Trent Richardson — in the third quarter and sits with 972 on the season.
The Cleveland Browns play the Cincinnati Bengals at FirstEnergy Stadium in Week 16.
Cleveland’s offense came to life with 16 points in the second quarter after a sloppy first quarter.
The Browns took more than 7 minutes off the clock on a scoring drive that featured a fourth-down conversion inside the red zone and third-and-goal touchdown pass from Mayfield to tight end David Njoku. They built off that momentum in a big way on the next drive, as wide receiver Jarvis Landry connected with Breshad Perriman on a 63-yard, trick play pass, and Mayfield followed with a touchdown pass to tight end Darren Fells.
Mayfield threw his third and final touchdown to cap a nine-play, 87-yard drive with less than 5 minutes to play in the third quarter. Faced with a third-and-4 at the 17, Mayfield threw underneath to Rashard Higgins, who sprinted toward the right sideline and dove for the pylon.
The Bengals added two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to keep it interesting. The Browns closed it out when Mayfield completed a 66-yard pass to Njoku and took the rest of the clock off with kneel downs.
Player of the Game: The chants of “Baker! Baker! Baker!” rained from the stands throughout Sunday’s second half, and it was for good reason. Yet again, Mayfield looked nothing like a rookie as he conducted an efficient Browns offense that didn’t punt after the first quarter.
Best from the Bengals: Joe Mixon had 68 yards on 17 carries to go along with his two catches for 10 yards.
Key Moment: The Browns offense really hit its stride when offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens dove deep into his bag of tricks. After a series of fakes and flips, the ball was in Landry’s hands. The veteran wide receiver launched a perfect pass to Perriman deep down the right sideline for 63 yards. Cleveland scored shortly thereafter and never looked back.
Stat of the Game: The Bengals posted just minus-15 passing yards thanks to two big sacks and just 3 yards passing from Cincinnati signal-caller Jeff Driskel.
Who’s Next?: The Browns wrap up their 2018 season with a trip to Baltimore.