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National Football League
Cincinnati 23, Cleveland 10
When: 1:00 PM ET, Sunday, December 11, 2016
Where: FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio
Temperature: 28°
Head Official: Gene Steratore
Attendance: 60028

CLEVELAND -- The Cincinnati Bengals are making another late run for a playoff spot after winning their second straight game.

The Bengals scored three touchdowns in the first half on Sunday and held on for a 23-10 victory over the Cleveland Browns.

The Bengals (5-7-1) kept their slender playoff hopes alive on a frigid day on the southern shore of Lake Erie, but they are running out of time to catch the Pittsburgh Steelers or Baltimore Ravens in the AFC North. The Browns (0-13) have now lost 16 straight going back to last season.

Quarterback Andy Dalton led Cincinnati's charge with two touchdown passes to tight end Tyler Eifert. The Bengals did not need the offensive explosion displayed against the Browns in the first meeting of the season, when they rolled up 559 yards, and 360 total yards were good enough for a fifth straight victory in the so-called Battle of Ohio.

Cincinnati leading receiver A.J. Green was sidelined with a hamstring injury, but the Bengals are learning to adjust.

"We started fast," said wide receiver Tyler Boyd, who led the Bengals with six catches for 49 yards. "I want to be the guy that's dependable at all times. Our whole unit is stepping up. One person makes a play and then another makes a play. That's when everybody comes in and teams up. Everybody wants to make a play for each other."

Boyd set up Eifert's first touchdown on a reverse when he ran 39 yards to the Cleveland 20-yard-line.

Browns coach Hue Jackson, desperate to get into the win column, went back to Robert Griffin III as his starting quarterback. Griffin missed 11 games with a broken bone in his left shoulder and was obviously rusty. He completed only 2 of 10 first-half passes for 20 yards along with one interception. His first half passer rating was 0.0.

Griffin was better in the second half, but not by much. He was nine of 24 for 79 yards until the Browns got the ball back with no timeouts remaining and 57 seconds to play. He completed three of four passes for 25 more yards. His final rating was 38.4.

Dalton, meanwhile, had a 132.9 passer rating in the first half. He led touchdown drives on each of the Bengals first two possessions -- first a six-play, 73-yard march ending in a 14-yard touchdown pass to Eifert and then a nine-play, 45-yard drive ending in a 1-yard plunge by running back Jeremy Hill.

Dalton finished with 20 completions in 28 attempts for 180 yards.

"We came in here with an attitude and a job to do, and I thought we did a good job of staying on course and getting that done," Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis said. "The third quarter wasn't quite the way we'd like it, but we fought back in it and played."

The Browns tried a flea flicker from their end zone after a Bengals' punt, but the pass by Griffin was intercepted by Cincinnati safety George Iloka and returned 21 yards to the Cleveland 26-yard line. Five plays later the Bengals were celebrating a 5-yard Dalton to Eifert touchdown pass.

Iloka said he sniffed the play out early by watching Terrelle Pryor, the intended wide receiver for the Browns. Iloka was one of three players converging on Pryor when Griffin threw the pass.

"I paused (in case it was a run)," Iolka said. "I didn't start back-pedaling right away. They told us on the sideline to watch for the flea flicker. Even though they called it out, you still have to play what you see.'

Cleveland rallied from a 20-0 halftime deficit with 10 unanswered points behind 87 yards rushing by running back Isaiah Crowell in the third quarter.

"A lot was opening up in the third quarter," Crowell said. "We just have to start quicker. The main thing is to get the victory. We have to put two haves together and we haven't been able to do that."

Griffin pushed across the goal line from the 1 at 8:11 of the third quarter, and then Cody Parkey added a 30-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter.

The touchdown by Griffin was just the second one scored by the Browns in the third quarter this season.

"We did not play very well in the first half," Cleveland coach Hue Jackson said. "We just did not play well. I have to give their defense credit. They made plays and we didn't. We just have to grow from these things and keep getting better."

Bengals kicker Mike Nugent, after missing an extra point and a field goal in the first half, opened up a 23-10 lead with a 44-yard field goal with 8:38 left.

NOTES: K Mike Nugent's extra point was blocked after the Bengals' second touchdown. He is now 23 of 29 on point-afters. ... TE Tyler Eifert now has five touchdown catches vs. the Browns in five games. ... Browns QB Josh McCown was a healthy inactive. ... WR Jordan Payton missed his first of four games while being suspended for using PEDs. He has one catch for three yards. ... Tickets for the Browns-Bengals were being sold for as low as $6 on stubhub.com.
Top Game Performances
Rushing
Cincinnati   Cleveland
Jeremy Hill Player Isaiah Crowell
25 Attempts 10
111 Yards 113
4.4 Avg Yards 11.3
1 Touchdowns 0
11 Long 42
Receiving
Cincinnati   Cleveland
Tyler Boyd Player Gary Barnidge
6 Receptions 3
49 Yards 27
8.2 Avg Yards 9.0
0 Touchdowns 0
11 Long 13
Team Stats Summary
 
  Yards Scoring Defense
Team Tot Rus Pas TD FG INT Sck FF
Cincinnati 360 213 147 3 1 1 3.0 0
Cleveland 254 169 85 1 1 0 4.0 1
Upcoming Games
  • Cleveland will play their next game on the road against Buffalo. The Browns have a W/L % of .000 after a win and .000 after a loss.
  • Cincinnati will play their next game at home against Pittsburgh. The Bengals have a W/L % of .333 after a win and .500 after a loss.