FINAL: Browns Lose Season Opener to Bengals 27-17

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Final: Browns Lose Season Opener to Cincinnati Bengals 27-17

Bruce Gradkowski threw a touchdown pass to A.J. Green to give the Bengals a 17-13 lead, and on third down with about a minute and a half to go, Cedric Benson took a hand-off 39 yards for a touchdown putting the final nail in Cleveland’s coffin.

The Browns’ defense had two huge errors at the end of an otherwise well-played game, and the Bengals were there to take advantage. Cleveland was pretty much a unanimous favorite to win this game, but games are obviously not won on paper.

A huge reason for the Browns losing this game was the inability of Cleveland to get anything going with running back Peyton Hillis. All of his yards were forced, and Cincinnati was well-prepared for one of the hardest runners in the NFL.

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Third Quarter: Browns Lead Bengals 17-13

The Cleveland Browns’ defense—to this point—has held as Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton went down with a wrist injury, and the only scoring of the third quarter was a field goal by Phil Dawson after the Browns had driven the ball inside the five yard line.

The Bengals were driving at the end of the third quarter before D’Qwell Jackson sacked Cincinnati backup quarterback Bruce Gradkowski to force a punt.

The Browns will start the fourth quarter with possession and control of the game, as it currently stands.

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Halftime: Browns Take 14-13 Lead Over Bengals

After a dreadful start to the game in which the Browns trailed 13-0, quarterback Colt McCoy rallied his teammates and took them on two quick scoring drives to give the Browns a 14-13 lead at halftime in Cleveland.

A big catch by Mohamed Massaquoi set up a touchdown pass from McCoy to Evan Moore after the second year quarterback had already hit tight end Ben Watson for a score to get the Browns on the board for the first time this season.

McCoy got off to a slow start in this one, but has really rallied, throwing for 116 yards and two touchdown in the first half with no interceptions.

Probably the biggest surprise is the lack of production from running back Peyton Hillis, who had only 39 total yards in the first half.

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First Quarter: Bengals Lead Browns 10-0 in Battle of Ohio

The Cleveland Browns have been unable to get anything going offensively in the first quarter of play, starting out with a three-and-out and not really improving much off of that, and they trail the Cincinnati Bengals 10-0 after one quarter of play.

Rookie quarterback Andy Dalton threw his first career touchdown pass to tight end Jermaine Gresham to put the Bengals up 10-0, and the second quarter begins with the Bengals driving into Cleveland territory already.

So far, the Browns have no answer for big tight end Jermaine Gresham.

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NFL Week 1: Cleveland Browns Ready For Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland's Pat Shurmur may be one of the new coaches in the league, but Marvin Lewis' Cincinnati squad isn't lacking in new faces either.

Shurmur will make his head coaching debut this Sunday at Cleveland Browns Stadium against the new-look Bengals in a battle of Ohio.

Following a pair of 5-11 seasons, the Browns parted ways with Eric Mangini prior to naming former Rams offensive coordinator Shurmur their 13th full- coach in team history. He is tasked with turning around a franchise that has made the playoffs just once and posted only two winning seasons since returning to the NFL in 1999.

The biggest change on offense for Cleveland will be a switch to a West Coast system and Shurmur's playbook comes with some pedigree after he helped guide St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford to Rookie of the Year honors last season.

The defense, under new coach Dick Jauron, will also make the move from a 3-4 to 4-3 scheme, giving the Browns an entire new look for the season. It also has them looking forward to the possibilities of a new season.

"Trust me, we're geared up. I've been trying to do a good job of controlling my emotions," Shurmur said. "A few times during the games, I'll let it go a little bit. That's really not for effect, that's real. I'm looking forward to it and I think it will be an exciting time. Again, when we opened camp I said it, practicing, playing and coaching, that's what we do as coaches and players. It's going to be fun to take this unit into a regular season game."

The Browns will look to get off on the right foot against a Bengals team that won the division in 2009 before slipping to a 4-12 mark last year. The disappointments didn't end after Week 17 either, with franchise quarterback Carson Palmer opting to retire rather than return to the club after his trade request was denied.

Diva wide outs Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens are also gone -- with the former traded to the Patriots and the latter still without a team -- but the defense was rocked a bit by the free agent departure of cornerback Johnathan Joseph.

That left Cincinnati with a lot of rebuilding to do following the lockout, but the draft ultimately became the source of two replacements with quarterback Andy Dalton and wide receiver A.J. Green both set to start on Sunday. The Bengals also added a load of new faces on defense, including linebackers Manny Lawson and Thomas Howard as well as cornerback Nate Clements.

"I know we'll be a better football team than a 4-12 team," Lewis said. "There's not the star-power on paper that maybe we possessed last year, but when it comes down to it, I think we'll all be all-in, and they'll be all in together. And that's the biggest statement we can make heading into the regular season."

Dalton will also be looking to make a statement as he succeeds Palmer under center. The second-round pick racked up a lot of wins at TCU, but did struggle a bit in the preseason. Lewis will still expect him to step right in and be a leader in 2011, but he won't have to do it alone.

"It depends on the guys you have around you. We have a lot of great guys here and they've made my job a whole lot easier," Dalton said. "I feel confident with everyone, that I can step in the huddle and take control, and that guys are responding. As time goes and the more experience that I get, that will come easier. It can be tough being a rookie, but you can't let that affect you."

Dalton will have running back Cedric Benson behind him after the 28-year-old served five days in jail stemming from a 2010 assault case before being released on Saturday.  

 

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Browns-Bengals: A Closer Look

I have to apologize in advance for not having a preview more wordy on my part (some people might see that as a blessing, I suppose).

I live in Pennsylvania, and we are having a wee bit of a flood situation along the Susquehanna River. Not sure how long there will be power or if an evacuation will be necessary (looking like heading for higher ground might become mandatory soon), I will present to you this preview via NFL.com.

(By the way, I am in no wise anything but a Browns fan, having been born and raised in Ohio. But life happens, and now I live here, smack dab in the middle of Steelers', Eagles' and Ravens' Country.)

If and when I am able to write more, I will write more about our Browns and their Sunday battle with the Bengals.

But until then, check out the NFL.com preview. It's pretty good stuff.

Go Browns!

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