CINCINNATI – Rookie running back Trent Richardson scored two electrifying touchdowns and rushed for 109 yards.
Rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden bounced back from a dismal opener last week and threw his first two NFL touchdowns. He finished 26-for-37 for 322 yards and no interceptions.
There were encouraging signs this afternoon at Paul Brown Stadium, but the Browns still lost 34-27 to Cincinnati. The Browns are 0-2. The Bengals 1-1.
Cleveland coach Pat Shurmur dropped to 0-7 inside the AFC North in his second season.
The Browns pulled within 24-17 at the end of the fourth quarter, but the Bengals responded with pivotal touchdown.
On third-and-10 from midfield, quarterback Andy Dalton was flushed from the pocket by defensive tackle Ahytba Rubin. Dalton threw back over the middle for waterbug receiver Andrew Hawkins, who shook loose of rookie nickelback Trevin Wade to get open. Hawkins ran the rest of the way, speeding past Wade and safety Eric Hagg and making safety T.J. Ward miss.
The Browns were missing starting cornerbacks Joe Haden (suspension) and Sheldon Brown (neck) and paid the price. Buster Skrine struggled all day in place of Brown, and Dimitri Patterson – the normal nickelback – gave up a touchdown to A.J. Green.
A 24-yard touchdown pass from Weeden to receiver Greg Little pulled the Browns within 31-24, but Mike Nugent kicked a 37-yard field goal with 2:09 left. The big play on the drive was a 22-yard third-down reception by tight end Jermaine Gresham that withstood a challenge by Shurmur.
The final score came on a Phil Dawson field goal with 20 seconds left. The Browns couldn’t recover the ensuing onside kick.