2022 NFL season, Week 8: What We Learned from Browns win over Bengals on Monday night

Cleveland Browns
2022 · 3-5-0
Cincinnati Bengals
2022 · 4-4-0


CLEVELAND --


  1. Joe Woods might be authoring another unexpected turnaround. The glimpses of improvement first arrived in Cleveland's narrow loss to Baltimore in Week 7, a game in which the Browns largely contained Lamar Jackson, but couldn't pull off the comeback. Faced with another premier talent under center and a number of key players out due to injury, the Browns answered the call in a big way. With an offense that currently can't run its way out of a wet paper bag, the pass-happy Bengals found the going to be difficult for most of the evening. It began with a deflected Joe Burrow pass that ended in an interception, and continued with Cleveland's constant harassment of Burrow to the tune of five sacks and a forced fumble. The Browns morphed into an unexpectedly opportunistic defense, forcing two Burrow turnovers, and more importantly, limiting an offense that averaged nearly 300 passing yards per game from Weeks 4-7. After six weeks of defensive ineptitude, the Browns are starting to look like they did in the second half of the 2021 season. It may have come in just the nick of time for Woods to keep his job -- and potentially turn around Cleveland's season.
  2. Joe Burrow's winless streak against the Browns lives on. At this point, Burrow's resume doesn't need to be stated, yet for some reason, he can't find a way to defeat the team for which he once cheered. Burrow is now 0-4 in games against the Browns in his professional career, losing twice in Cleveland with vastly different surrounding casts. The last time Burrow fell at FirstEnergy Stadium, his Bengals team was slowly working toward contention in his rookie season. This time, after lighting up the scoreboard a week earlier at home, his Bengals were expected to win. Instead, they came out flat and allowed a surprisingly energetic Browns team to capitalize throughout the night. This is officially a point of focus in his career, and since he'll get two meetings per year with the intrastate rivals, it won't be the last we hear of it. Cincinnati, however, will likely want to forget this one as quickly as possible.
  3. The Browns finally committed to running the ball. The discourse surrounding the Browns' four-game losing streak had been centered on two key points: disappointing defense and a lack of rushing attempts for Nick Chubb. Browns fans who do their homework will be happy to learn Chubb received 23 carries Monday night -- the point of demarcation between wins and losses for Cleveland has been 20 Chubb attempts -- and he made the most of them, gaining 101 yards and scoring two touchdowns. After getting too cute early in the game, head coach Kevin Stefanski turned to his trusted back and brought in some extra help to get the job done, sending seven offensive linemen out for a goal-line package that saw Chubb take a direct snap in for a score. On the ensuing two-point conversion attempt, Stefanski tossed in another lineman (Drew Forbes) to lead block as a fullback, giving the Browns an 8-0 lead and Cleveland the satisfaction it so desperately desired. Cleveland is at its best when it keeps the ball on the ground, and Monday night's 172 rushing yards proved it.
  4. Cincinnati needs to clean up the details. The Bengals came out flat on Monday night, plain and simple, almost as if their win over the Falcons entitled them to another victory over a struggling Browns squad. Dropped passes on important downs and small mistakes appeared throughout the first three quarters, and the loss of cornerback Chidobe Awuzie only made the task tougher for Cincinnati's defense. When the Bengals started their first scoring drive of the night, they had 95 total yards of offense with less than four minutes left in the third quarter. That total came from a team that gained 537 yards eight days earlier. By the time the Bengals woke up from their 40-minute sleepwalk, the deficit was too large for them to overcome. If Cincinnati wants to prove it wasn't a one-and-done contender in the AFC, it must avoid performances like Monday night's.
  5. Cleveland learns how to close out a game. For the first time since the Browns' Week 3 win over Pittsburgh, they finally took an opportunity to put a team away and capitalized. A tip of the cap is due for Amari Cooper, who threw an interception on a trick play, then bounced back to snag a trio of key receptions that directly contributed to Cleveland's final score. The first was a 27-yard gain on a crossing route, and he followed that up with a toe-tapping touchdown just moments later. And finally, facing third-and-long, Jacoby Brissett heaved a pass to Cooper, who split two defenders downfield to make a diving 53-yard reception that extended a crucial drive for Cleveland and led to a touchdown. Without these grabs, the Browns very well could have allowed another team back into a game with which they should have run away. Instead, they were able to turn to Chubb and Kareem Hunt to slam the door. With Tuesday's trade deadline looming, we'll see if the Browns still have both parts of that backfield tandem. But for one night, they proved to be as important as ever -- with an assist from a prized offseason acquisition.


Next Gen stat of the game: Jacoby Brissett completed 8 of 9 passes of 10-plus air yards for 216 yards in the win over the Bengals.


NFL Research: Myles Garrett had 1.5 sacks Monday night, giving him 9.0 in his career against the Bengals, which is tied for the most against any team (Jets). He's also had a sack versus the Bengals in five straight games.


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