Bengals 30

(9-4-1, 5-2 away)

Browns 0

(7-7, 4-4 home)

Coverage: FOX

1:00 PM ET, December 14, 2014

FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, OH 

1 2 3 4 T
CIN 10 10 3 730
CLE 0 0 0 00

Top Performers

Passing: A. Dalton (CIN) - 117 YDS, 1 INT

Rushing: J. Hill (CIN) - 25 CAR, 148 YDS, 2 TD

Receiving: A. Green (CIN) - 5 REC, 49 YDS

Bengals-Browns Preview


The Cleveland Browns are turning to Johnny Manziel to help keep their fading playoff hopes alive.

But even before Manziel was named the starter for Sunday's clash with the AFC North-leading Bengals, Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis found himself on the defensive regarding the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner.

While Manziel's first pro start adds another chapter to this historic rivalry, it finally gives the Browns organization and its fans an extensive look at the dynamic collegiate athlete they hope will blossom into the franchise quarterback they've coveted.

"I'm very excited to get out on the field with my teammates on Sunday and to have the opportunity to make the Dawg Pound proud," the popular and polarizing Manziel, who has made more news off the field than on it during his short NFL career, told the Browns' official website.

Coach Mike Pettine thought about starting Manziel last week but stuck with the struggling Brian Hoyer, who has thrown one touchdown and eight interceptions during Cleveland's stretch of three losses in four games. Pettine's decision became easier after Hoyer went 14 of 31 for a season-low 140 yards with two picks and no TDs as Cleveland (7-6) fell 25-24 at home to Indianapolis last Sunday.

"We are trying to get the offense to perform at a higher level," said Pettine, whose team has lost two in a row to fall into last place and 1 1/2 games behind the Bengals.

"Johnny has worked very hard to earn this opportunity and it will be very important for every member of the offense to elevate their play for us to obtain our desired result."

The Browns moved up four spots to take Manziel with the 22nd pick, but he couldn't beat out Hoyer in training camp after recording almost 10,000 total yards in two seasons at Texas A&M. Manziel has been on the field for 18 plays this season. His most extensive action came Nov. 30, when he went 5 of 8 for 63 yards and scored on a 10-yard run in a 26-10 loss at Buffalo.

"I've tried to spend my entire season learning what it takes to become a pro and it's been great to watch Brian because he knows what it takes," said Manziel, who will be Cleveland's 21st starting quarterback since 1999. "I've prepared every week to be ready to help the team however possible and my focus has been on improving every day."

Lewis probably had a good idea who his team would face Monday when he ignited some controversy by referring to the 6-foot Manziel as a "midget" during a radio interview. He later apologized to Manziel, the Browns and anybody else outside the organization who might have been offended.

"It was thoughtless on my part to use the word I did, and not excusable, and I greatly regret it," Lewis said in a statement.

Lewis said the Bengals (8-4-1) will game plan for the Browns as an offense, and not one player, as they try to avoid being swept in the season series for the first time since 2002. However, a defense that allowed 36 points during a three-game winning streak -- all on the road -- before a 42-21 home loss to Pittsburgh last Sunday can't afford another poor effort.

For a franchise-record third time this season, Cincinnati allowed 500 total yards. Of the season-high 543 it gave up, 193 came on the ground. The Bengals yielded 214 rushing yards over the previous three games.

Their defense absorbed another hit when Pro Bowl linebacker Vontaze Burfict (knee) was placed on injured reserve this week.

"We have to be better when the odds are against us a little bit," defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said. "When things aren't going quite as smoothly as we want them to go, we have to go out there and buckle up and play good defense."

The Browns ran for 170 yards in a 24-3 win at Cincinnati on Nov. 6, with Terrance West gaining 94 and fellow rookie Isaiah Crowell adding 41 with one TD apiece.

Each ran for 54 yards against the Colts, and Crowell scored for the fourth time in five games.

Defensively, Cleveland must improve after allowing at least 23 points in four straight games and blowing a 14-point lead to the Colts.

The Browns held Cincinnati to 165 yards last month and star A.J. Green to three catches for 23. Green, who usually draws coverage from Pro Bowler Joe Haden, has been limited to 12 receptions, 81 yards and no TDs in his last three games versus Cleveland.

Green, however, recorded a career-high 224 yards and a TD on 11 receptions against the Steelers. He's gone over 120 yards three times in four games since facing Cleveland.

Andy Dalton is expected to play despite sitting near the end of last Sunday's contest after a taking a hit to the ribs. He's completed 70.8 percent of his passes with seven TDs, four INTs and a 101.3 passer rating since posting a career-worst 2.0 mark versus Cleveland, going 10 of 33 for 86 yards with three picks.

Browns kicker Billy Cundiff, who missed at least one field goal attempt in each of the last five games, had been questionable with a right knee injury but was waived Saturday. Former New Orleans kicker Garrett Hartley was signed to replace Cundiff.


Passing Leaders

A. Dalton64.233981917
M. Sanu100.07910
B. Hoyer55.333261213
C. Shaw50.017701

Rushing Leaders

J. Hill22211245.19
G. Bernard1686804.05
T. West1716733.94
I. Crowell1486074.18

Receiving Leaders

A. Green69104115.16
M. Sanu5679014.15
A. Hawkins6382413.12
T. Gabriel3662117.31

Team Averages & NFL Ranks

Total YardsCIN
Yards PassingCIN
Yards RushingCIN
Yards AllowedCIN
Pass Yds AllowedCIN
Rush Yds AllowedCIN

Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)

Cincinnati leads 17-11
Nov 6, 2014CIN 3, CLE 24
Nov 17, 2013CIN 41, CLE 20
Sep 29, 2013CIN 6, @CLE 17
Oct 14, 2012CIN 24, @CLE 34
Sep 16, 2012CIN 34, CLE 27
Nov 27, 2011CIN 23, CLE 20
Sep 11, 2011CIN 27, @CLE 17
Dec 19, 2010CIN 19, CLE 17
Oct 3, 2010CIN 20, @CLE 23
Nov 29, 2009CIN 16, CLE 7
Oct 4, 2009CIN 23, @CLE 20
Dec 21, 2008CIN 14, @CLE 0
Sep 28, 2008CIN 12, CLE 20
Dec 23, 2007CIN 19, CLE 14
Sep 16, 2007CIN 45, @CLE 51
Nov 26, 2006CIN 30, @CLE 0
Sep 17, 2006CIN 34, CLE 17
Dec 11, 2005CIN 23, CLE 20
Sep 11, 2005CIN 27, @CLE 13
Nov 28, 2004CIN 58, CLE 48
Oct 17, 2004CIN 17, @CLE 34
Dec 28, 2003CIN 14, CLE 22
Sep 28, 2003CIN 21, @CLE 14
Nov 17, 2002CIN 20, CLE 27
Sep 15, 2002CIN 7, @CLE 20
Nov 25, 2001CIN 0, @CLE 18
Oct 14, 2001CIN 24, CLE 14

Research Notes

Andy Dalton's two worst games according to Total QBR have been his last 2 games against the Browns.
Andy Dalton has been held under 100 passing yards in each of his last 2 games against the Browns.
The Browns have lost their last 9 regular season games in December and January, the longest active streak in the NFL.
The Browns ran the ball by design on 68.0 percent of their plays in Week 10 against the Bengals, their highest percentage this season and the third-highest by any team in 2014. The Bengals allowed 193 rush yards in Week 14 against the Steelers, their second most this season.
When Johnny Manziel saw his first real action in Week 13 at the Bills, the Browns offense averaged 8.2 yards per play with him on the field. They averaged 3.9 yards per play with Brian Hoyer on the field.
A.J. Green is 90 receiving yards shy of 1,000 on the season, which would make 4 straight seasons with 1,000 receiving yards to start his career. Randy Moss is the only other player in NFL history to accomplish that feat. Green is also closing in on Jerry Rice for the 3rd-most receiving yards through a player's 1st 4 NFL seasons.
Johnny Manziel will become the fifth rookie quarterback drafted in the 1st Round to make his first career start in Week 15 or later in the last 20 years.
Expect to see Johnny Manziel on the move Sunday. Manziel has broken the pocket on 6 of his 11 dropbacks this season. He's only 1-of-4 passing for 12 yards out of the pocket, but has 13 yards and a TD on 2 scrambles.
FROM ELIAS: The last 1st-round pick QB to get shut out in his 1st start was Tommy Maddox in 1992 against the Raiders
Johnny Manziel posted a 1.0 QBR today, tied with Brandon Weeden (in 2012 for the Browns) for the worst in a player's first career start in the last 5 seasons.
The Browns ran 38 offensive plays Sunday, the fewest by any team in a game this season and fewest by the Browns since Week 1 of 1999, when they ran 28 plays vs the Steelers in a 43-0 loss. QBs Tim Couch and Ty Detmer combined to go 6-for-16 for 52 yards and 2 Int in that one.
Lots of qualifiers but it's Johnny Manziel we're talking about
Johnny Manziel's 1.0 Total QBR is the worst in a game by any starter this season (min. 10 Pass att).

ESPN Stats & Information