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CLEVELAND, Ohio-The Cleveland Browns beat the Cincinnati Bengals 17-6 at the home game game on Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium. Every team in the National Football League is in constant search of play makers. Play makers are those players who stand out in the moments of each game were plays need to be made to help their team rise above the competition. Players who fit this description and make plays on a consistent basis are usually the more physically and mentally talented team leaders that are hard to come by. For the Cleveland Browns in previous years finding players who step up and make winning plays has been as rare as winning games in their home stadium. Which made the way they made big plays to beat the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday all the more unusual.
There were no less than eight Browns players who stepped up and made key plays at important moments in the win over the Bengals. Back up quarterback Brian Hoyer again did a lot more than stand in for the injured starter Brandon Weeden. Hoyer threw 38 passes and completed 25 of them. Hoyer was a play maker the entire game as he found seven different receivers to complete passes to. He found his favorite receiver Jordan Cameron 10 times. Several passes kept drives going and one was a neatly placed back shoulder throw that went for Cleveland's first touchdown and gave the Browns a seven to zero lead. Cameron's size and athletic ability made him a miss match for Cincinnati line backers and defensive backs.
Early on it was obvious the success of the Browns would come not from just Hoyer and Cameron, it would be a team effort. The first big play by the Cleveland defense came on Cincinnati's first drive that went to the Browns 39 yard line. It was third and three, a first down would have put the Bengals in position to try a field goal rather than punt. Defensive end Paul Kruger hit Bengal quarterback Andy Dalton's arm as he threw, sending his pass harmlessly to the ground and his offense to the side lines. Hoyer led the Browns on a 95 yard drive in the first quarter that resulted his first touchdown pass to Cameron. The key play in that drive was made by wide receiver Travis Benjamin. Benjamin took a short screen pass and used his 4.3 40 yard sprint speed to turn up the field for a 39 yard gain putting Cleveland in great field position.
In the second quarter the Bengals again had driven into the Browns side of the field. This time they drove all the way to Cleveland's seven yard line, threatening to take the lead. Cincinnati turned down a chip shot field goal to go for a first down on fourth down,one yard away. This time Desmond Bryant shot into the Bengals backfield tackling running back Ben Jarvis Green Ellis for a lost. That fourth down stop did not just turn the ball over to the Browns offense, it turned the momentum of the game to the home town team. A touchdown would have given Cincinnati a lead going into the half, but instead they were down seven to three to start the third quarter. The high powered Bengal offense has been shut down. Cincinnati had scored at least one touchdown in each game dating back to the 2011 season. The next big play came early in the third quarter with the Bengals starting to drive again. It was third and seven on Cincinnati's 49 yard line. Defensive coordinator, Ray Horton sent corner back Chris Owens on a blitz. Owens not only sacked the Bengal's quarterback, but stripped him of the ball, giving it back to his offense near mid-field. Again another Browns player made a play that turned the momentum of the game back to Cleveland.
With 11:31 minutes left in the fourth quarter Hoyer was given credit for orchestrating a six minute 31 second, 91 yard drive that ended in a two yard touchdown pass to Chris Ogbonnaya.
However, Willis McGahee was the true leader and play maker of that touchdown clinching drive. McGahee had rushed for only 10 yards on seven carries before that drive started, but at the end of it he totaled 44 yards on 13 carries. McGahee made key first down runs in that drive. The success which McGahee had on that drive put offensive coordinator Norv Turner in a position where he could call a play action pass that would suck Cincinnati's linebackers in for the run as Hoyer threw his second touchdown to Ogdonnaya.
To cap the game off and end any ideas that the Bengals had in coming back in the fourth quarter Buster Skrine stepped up to intercept a Dalton pass with three minutes and 46 seconds remaining in the game. That interception was made possible because of Cleveland linebacker D'Qwell Jackson's tight coverage on tight end Tyler Eifert. Jackson deflected Dalton's pass giving Skine the opportunity to make a play on the ball. Yes, it was that kind of game. A game where plays could be made by players who were ready and willing to step up at key moments to turn the final score in the Browns favor, 17 to 6. But now the question becomes, can these same players and others be counted on to make game changing plays consistently? If they do there will finally be a good reason to come to the Cleveland Browns First Energy Stadium this season.