CLEVELAND – The Browns are no longer winless. They’re no longer on an 11-game losing streak. Coach Pat Shurmur is no longer 0-for-the AFC North.
Cleveland Browns Stadium was rocking late this afternoon after the Browns beat the Cincinnati Bengals 34-24.
The Browns overcame a lackluster first half and seven straight possessions without a first down to reel off 27 second-half points. Then they dodged a late Bengals comeback.
The Browns improved to 1-5 and Shurmur 1-8 inside the division. The franchise-record-tying skid is over, just in time for Jimmy Haslam to be approved as the new owner Tuesday at the NFL meetings in Chicago.
Just about everyone played a hand in the big second half.
Running back Montario Hardesty, filling in for Trent Richardson, scored his first career touchdown on a 1-yard dive over the pile. Richardson’s injury was announced as a flank (side) and he spent much of the half on the sideline with his helmet on. The team announced his return as probable, but he didn’t re-enter the game.
Rookie quarterback Brandon Watson got his first career win on his 29th birthday. He connected with Josh Gordon on a 71-yard touchdown in the second quarter and tight end Benjamin Watson on a 3-yarder in the fourth quarter.
Veteran cornerback Sheldon Brown followed with a 19-yard interception return for a touchdown, and the Browns led 34-17 with eight minutes left.
Phil Dawson added 41- and 38-yard field goals when the offense was stuck in the mud in the third quarter.
The Bengals pulled within 34-24 with 5:21 left on a 57-yard touchdown catch by A.J. Green after cornerback Joe Haden stumbled. After a Browns punt, the Bengals moved to the 9-yard line with more than two minutes left.
But defensive end Emmanuel Stephens got a strip-sack of quarterback Andy Dalton, and rookie defensive tackle Billy Winn recovered to allow the Browns and their fans to breathe a sigh of relief.