CINCINNATI — Four touchdowns and a 41-yard field goal in the waning seconds of the second quarter allowed the Cincinnati Bengals to recover from an early two-score deficit and build a 31-13 halftime lead over the Cleveland Browns in the Battle of Ohio from Paul Brown Stadium.
Mere minutes after returning a blocked punt for a touchdown, the Bengals returned a fumble for another score and extended their lead over the Browns to 28-13 with 2:45 remaining in the first half.
On second-and-13 from the Cleveland 17-yard line, quarterback Jason Campbell completed a two-yard pass to running back Chris Ogbonnaya, but he fumbled the ball away on his way to the ground. Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict recovered the fumble and returned it 13 yards for a touchdown.
Second-year Cincinnati safety Tony Dye started the week on the practice squad, and but ended with a trip to the end zone after recovering Spencer Lanning’s blocked punt and returning it 24 yards for a touchdown.
The special-teams score gave the Bengals a 21-13 lead over the Browns with less than five minutes to play in the first half.
The punt was blocked by linebacker Jayson DiManche, and rolled through the hands of several Bengals before Dye recovered it while on his stomach and had enough time to get back to his feet and outrun the Browns to the end zone.
It was the third blocked kick of the year for the Bengals, a first for Cincinnati since 1991, and the first blocked punt for a touchdown given up by the Browns since 1990.
Cincinnati wide receiver Mohamed Sanu gave the Bengals their first lead over the Browns, 14-13, with a six-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Andy Dalton at the 11:49 mark of the second quarter.
While he had the scoring play, Sanu also provided the Bengals with their longest pass of the five-play, 38-yard drive.
On second-and-six from the Browns’ 34-yard line, Sanu caught a backwards pass from Dalton and threw a perfect spiral deep down the right side of the field to running back Giovani Bernard for a 25-yard gain. Despite a challenge from the Browns, Bernard’s catch was upheld for a first down.
Cincinnati tight end Jermaine Gresham drew the Bengals to within one score of the Browns, 13-7, with a 25-yard touchdown reception from Dalton with 14:52 to play in the first half.
Gresham caught the ball inside the five-yard line and held possession despite linebacker Craig Robertson’s best efforts to jar the ball loose. Gresham then withstood a hit from Browns defensive back Joe Haden at the two-yard line and walked his way into the end zone for his second touchdown of the season.
With two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown, and a pair of Billy Cundiff field goals, the Browns enjoyed a 13-0 lead over the Bengals after one quarter of play in the Battle of Ohio.
In the latter stages of the first quarter, Haden gave the Browns a 13-0 lead over the Bengals by returning an interception for a touchdown.
On second-and-10 from Cincinnati’s 20-yard line, Dalton dropped back to pass to Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green on the right side of the formation, but Haden jumped the route for his second interception of the game.
However, unlike his first interception of the day, Haden was not to be denied of the end zone. With free safety Tashaun Gipson running interference behind him, Haden coasted his way into the end zone for the 29-yard touchdown.
Earlier in the quarter, Cundiff converted a 28-yard field goal and extended the Browns’ lead over the Bengals to 6-0 with 3:04 to play in the first quarter. Cundiff’s second field goal capped off a four-play drive that was set up by the Browns’ defense.
The Bengals faced a first-and-10 from their own 20-yard line when Dalton attempted a pass for Green, but instead of the out route, Green ran a comeback.
Dalton’s pass sailed beyond the reach of the Pro Bowl wide receiver and into Haden’s arms. Haden returned the ball 15 yards to the Bengals’ 14-yard line.
Cundiff had given the Browns a 3-0 lead over the Bengals with a 20-yard field goal at the 4:10 mark of the first quarter. The Browns took the lead with an 11-play, 79-yard drive that took 4:51 off the first-quarter clock. The Browns converted four first downs on their second possession of the game.
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