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The Cincinnati Bengals hosted the Cleveland Browns in what proved to be one of the most exciting games in Week 2 as the Bengals emerged victorious over their AFC North counterparts, 34-27.
Cincinnati got off to the perfect start as cornerback Adam Jones returned a punt for an 81-yard touchdown and gave them the opening score of the game. Both sides seemed tentative in the first quarter and a field goal from Phil Dawson for the Browns was the only other score.
The game exploded into life in the second quarter with Cincinnati striking first, quarterback Andy Dalton finding A. J. Green for a 10-yard touchdown pass. Cleveland struck back quickly, however, with rookie running back Trent Richardson putting his disappointing performance last week against the Philadelphia Eagles behind him and rushed for a 32-yard touchdown.
Mike Nugent then added a field goal for Cincinnati and ensured they took a lead of seven points into the halftime break.
Dalton continued his good form early in the second half, once again throwing a touchdown pass, this time to Brandon Tate for 44 yards as the Bengals threatened to take control of the game. Cleveland needed a quick score to get them back into the game and Richardson stepped up once more. Fellow rookie Brandon Weeden and Richardson connected on a 23-yard touchdown pass, cutting the Bengals’ lead back to seven points.
Both teams shared a touchdown and field goal apiece in the fourth quarter, Cincinnati striking first through a 50-yard touchdown from Andrew Hawkins, followed by a 24-yard touchdown for Greg Little.
Dalton (24/31, 318 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT) looked much more composed this week against the Browns than he did in Week 1 against the Baltimore Ravens, but it was losing quarterback Weeden (26/37, 322 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INT) who perhaps made the biggest improvement from his performance a week ago, where he had looked abysmal.
Richardson had also disappointed for Cleveland last week, but put on a much improved show this week, rushing for 109 yards and one touchdown from 19 carries, as well as making 36 yards in the passing game and going over for a further touchdown.
The Bengals offense looked impressive in this victory over the Browns, but they will need to replicate this kind of performance against the likes of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Ravens if they are to become a force to be reckoned with in the AFC North.
Cincinnati will look to improve their record to 2-1 next week as they visit the Washington Redskins, whilst Cleveland will be desperate for their first win of the season as they play host to the Buffalo Bills.
Image Courtesy of Cincinnati Bengals