|Date of game: 11/6/2014
Recap: Cincinnati vs. Cleveland
Cincinnati, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - The Cleveland Browns' last road win against an AFC North opponent coming into Thursday occurred more than six years ago.
So they wouldn't snap their 17-game road division skid against a Cincinnati team that had been rather dominant on its home turf, right?
Cleveland's three-headed rushing attack of Terrance West, Ben Tate and Isaiah Crowell each scored rushing touchdowns to help the Browns to a 24-3 win over the Bengals, halting a losing streak that dated back to Sept. 28, 2008 coincidentally with a win at Cincinnati.
Brian Hoyer did a solid job managing the offense for Cleveland (6-3), which enters the weekend tied with Pittsburgh atop the division, and threw for 198 yards on 15-of-23 efficiency.
"It's awesome," Hoyer said of the win. "I don't think many people gave us a chance, but the people in that locker room believed."
The Browns rushed for 170 yards on an NFL season-high 52 carries, with West leading the charge at 94 yards on a career-high 26 totes.
Andy Dalton had a dreadful game for the Bengals (5-3-1), who had their 14-game home unbeaten streak snapped. Dalton went 10-for-33 for 86 yards with three interceptions.
Cleveland's defense did an excellent job throughout the game, and it wasn't more evident in cornerback Joe Haden's play against Bengals star receiver AJ Green, who was limited to three receptions on 10 targets for 23 yards.
"Obviously, a huge win and as complete a game as we've played," Browns coach Mike Pettine said. "I thought all three phases complimented each other very well. I think it all truly fed off the defense. I thought the early turnover set the tone."
Dalton was immediately intercepted by Craig Robertson on the fifth play of the game, as the linebacker jumped a short crossing pattern by Jermaine Gresham and returned it 15 yards to the Bengals 18.
"We were just out there flying around, guys cutting loose," said Robertson. "Everything and everybody was out there having fun playing."
West then did the heavy lifting, carrying it four times to start Cleveland's short drive, before Tate took a delayed handoff up the gut for a 4-yard touchdown.
After the Browns forced a punt, Jim Leonhard fumbled the ensuing return and Cincinnati took over in its opponent's territory.
The Bengals were forced to go for it on fourth down from the Cleveland 32 with 37 m.p.h winds whipping throughout Paul Brown Stadium. Mohamed Sanu nearly made a diving, one-handed catch on the play, but Buster Skrine had the other arm all wrapped up and was flagged for pass interference.
Dalton had a rough start, going 1-for-7 over Cincinnati's first three drives, and the Bengals had to settle for their only points of the evening, a 43-yard field goal from Mike Nugent.
"I have to obviously play better," said Dalton. "When you take turns missing assignments, missing a throw, whatever it might be, it's not going to turn out well for you, and that's what happened tonight."
Hoyer led another scoring drive that bridged the first and second quarters, converting passes of 17 and 22 yards to Travis Benjamin to set up Crowell's 2- yard TD scamper to make it 14-3.
The Bengals looked to respond, but Jeremy Hill's 13-yard run into Browns territory ended with Tashaun Gipson jarring the ball loose and Haden recovering at the 28.
"We're embarrassed," said Hill. "It's pathetic. I had a fumble and you can't do that. It is what it is."
Hill was making his second straight start in place of Giovani Bernard, who missed the contest due to injuries to his hip and clavicle.
Billy Cundiff knocked down a 32-yard field goal with 3:59 remaining until half to give Cleveland a 17-3 lead at the break.
The second half was much of the same for the Browns, as the their defense continued to stymie Dalton and their offense kept churning up the clock.
The strong defensive effort and monotonous offensive unit were both on display early in the third quarter. Dalton was sacked on back-to-back plays by Desmond Bryant to force a punt, then West capped a 10-play, 63-yard drive that lasted 5:30 with a leaping 1-yard touchdown over the goal line.
Dalton continued to struggle, leading a drive to the Cleveland 34 before throwing an interception to Skrine that was returned 30 yards with under 12 minutes left. Cundiff missed a 44-yard field goal following the turnover, but the Bengals couldn't get anything going as Dalton's night ended with another interception by Skrine on a diving catch deep down field.
The Browns ran out the remaining clock over two more possessions to win their third straight game and complete their best start to a season through nine games since 1994.Game Notes
The last time these teams played with records above .500 this late in the
season was a 34-3 Browns win on December 14, 1986 in Cincinnati ... Hoyer is
now 9-3 as the Browns starting quarterback ... Cleveland had lost five
straight in Cincinnati since the road win in 2008 ... The Bengals went 13-0-1
since last losing a 20-19 decision at home to Dallas on Dec. 9, 2012 ... The
Browns outgained their opponent, 368-165, and owned over an 11-minutes edge in
time of possession ... Hill rushed for 55 yards on 12 carries ... Former Brown
receiver Greg Little picked up a personal foul penalty after head butting a
Cleveland defender in the first quarter ... Dalton had a career-low completion
rate of 31 percent (5-for-16) in the first half ... Leah Still, the four-year-
old daughter of Bengals defensive tackle Devon Still, was in attendance to see
her father play for the first time. She is being treated at Children's
Hospital of Philadelphia for Stage-4 pediatric cancer. Leah was presented a
check for over a million dollars made out to the Cincinnati Children's