CLE-CIN grades: Bengals’ offense heats up first half

The highest-graded players and top takeaways from the Bengals' win over the Browns.

| 6 months ago
(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

CLE-CIN grades: Bengals’ offense heats up first half

Cincinnati Bengals 23, Cleveland Browns 10

These are the highest-graded players and top takeaways from the Bengals’ win over the Browns.

Cincinnati Bengals

Quarterback Grade: Andy Dalton, 65

Dalton weathers the conditions in win

Andy Dalton completed 20 of his 28 drop back pass attempts for 180 yards with two touchdowns, one drop and no interceptions. Dalton was also sacked four times. Dalton found success using play action as he was four of six on play action passes for 49 yards and a touchdown. The Bengals QB completed two of five pass attempts under pressure for 22 yards. Dalton was zero for two on passes of 20 yards or more as Cincinnati used shorts passes and the running game to control the clock and game in the snow and wind.

Top offensive grades:

RB Jeremy Hill, 79.7
WR Tyler Boyd, 79.4
TE Tyler Eifert, 78.9
T Andrew Whitworth, 77.7
TE Tyler Kroft, 74.6

Bengals offense heats up in first half

A balanced Bengals offense built a controlling lead in the tough weather conditions by halftime and that was enough to get the win in Cleveland. Tyler Boyd had a nice day working in the slot with six receptions on six targets for 49 yards. TE Tyler Eifert had five receptions on five targets for 48 yards. Jeremy Hill flashed good vision in the Bengals zone blocking scheme to help the Bengals offense find balance and maintain control of the game. Andrew Whitworth led the Bengals up front allowing two QB hurries while also showing solid work in run blocking.

Top defensive grades:

DT Geno Atkins, 84.5
CB Adam Jones, 78.4
LB Karlos Dansby, 77.4
S Shawn Williams, 73.7
CB Joshua Shaw, 71.3 

Bengals defense show toughness in win

Geno Atkins had a big day inside for the Bengals defense with two stops in run defense on 14 snaps while earning two sacks, one hit and four hurries rushing the passer. Adam Jones did his duty in pass coverage yielding one reception for four yards on two targets. Cincinnati played team defense by taking away the deep ball from Robert Griffin III and forcing the Browns offense off the field on third down.

Cleveland Browns

Quarterback grade: Robert Griffin III, 37.2

RG III has tough day

Playing in harsh weather conditions, especially in the first half, Griffin failed to find rhythm passing on the day. Griffin completed 12 of his 28 drop back pass attempts for 104 yards with one drop and one interception. The Browns QB was zero for three on his deep pass attempts with his interception coming on a pass deep down the field. Griffin was three of ten on pass attempts under pressure (with one drop) for 41 yards and completed only one of his 10 pass attempts using play action for five yards.

Top offensive grades

T Joe Thomas, 81.9
G Jonathan Cooper, 80.7
T Austin Pasztor, 77.5
G Spencer Drango, 71.1
RB Isaiah Crowell, 68.7

Browns offense struggles in loss

The Browns offense had only a couple successful drives against the Bengals defense, but a few offensive linemen turned in solid performances. Tackle Joe Thomas yielded no sacks, hits or hurries and guard Jonathan Cooper performed well run blocking while yielding only one QB hurry. RB Isaiah Crowell managed to break loose on three runs of 15 yards or longer as the Browns also utilized Griffin’s running abilities from the QB position to find some success in the run game.

Top defensive grades:

ED Cam Johnson, 84.3
CB Briean Boddy-Calhoun, 79.9
DI Stephen Paea, 79.6
ED Emmanuel Ogbah, 78.5         
LB Chris Kirksey, 77

Browns defense settles down after rough start 

The Bengals’ offensive success against the Browns defense in the first half could not be overcome, but the Browns made some stops as the game progressed and a few players were able to have a solid showing. Stephen Paea had one tackle and an assist in run defense while also managing a sack and two hurries rushing the passer. Emmanuel Ogbah produced two sacks and a QB hit to go along with two hurries while LB Cam Johnson had a sack and hurry rushing the passer to go along with a tackle and two assists in run defense. 

PFF Game-ball Winner: Geno Atkins

PFF’s player grading process includes multiple reviews, which may change the grade initially published in order to increase its accuracy. Learn more about how we grade and access grades for every player through each week of the NFL season by subscribing to Player Grades.

| Analyst

Taylor is an offensive line and run-game specialist at Pro Football Focus. He has coached at every level of college football, with experience at Mississippi Gulf Coast, Central Missouri, and Wyoming.

  • Kevin Grimes

    Full disclosure, I’m asking about this due to IDP fantasy football- but what was with Vontaze Burfict’s statline? One tackle despite playing 100% of the snaps? Did it seem like he was used differently than usual, or playing a step slow or something? I realize that a defensive player’s role isn’t always ‘playmaker’ but after being that on a weekly basis it seemed weird, and having not watched the game, I’m wondering what the tape says! THANKS!