CLEVELAND — Turns out Joe Burrow and the entire Bengals offense might have needed more time together after all.
Deshaun Watson ran for a 13-yard score and Dustin Hopkins connected on three field goals as the Cleveland Browns continued the misery for Cincinnati on the shores of Lake Erie with a 24-3 win in the season opener Sunday. The Bengals have been outscored 56-15 in the last two games in Cleveland.
The Bengals have lost six straight in Cleveland and Burrow falls to 1-5 lifetime against the Browns.
Nick Chubb again helped ground the Bengals into submission, with 105 yards on 18 carries.
The Bengals failed to take advantage of a pair of turnovers from the defense while Burrow finished 14-of-31 for 82 yards and was harassed by Myles Garrett and the Cleveland defense all day.
The capper came in the fourth quarter when Burrow couldn’t find anyone open on fourth down at Cincinnati’s 25. Garrett sacked Burrow and the Browns scored the game-sealing touchdown moments later.
Myles getting it done against his favorite opponent
try a triple team next time pic.twitter.com/JMyKzTnaRy
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) September 10, 2023
The Browns dominated the field position battle in the first quarter. Cincinnati’s average starting field position in the first half was the 19.
Cleveland also had the best scoring chance in the opening 15 minutes but Jerome Ford fumbled the ball on the exchange with Deshaun Watson, regathered the ball before getting stripped by linebacker Logan Wilson and Nick Scott. In his first game back from his ACL tear on the same field last Halloween, Chido Awuzie recovered the ball at the Cincinnati 13.
The Browns lost their starting right tackle Jack Conklin to a right knee injury midway through the second quarter and was carted off the field. He was ruled out minutes later.
While the Bengals punted on all seven possessions of the first half, the Browns couldn’t generate much more, before putting together a 67-yard, nine-play drive, capped off by a Deshaun Watson 13-yard scramble on second down. Last year, the Browns also scored a touchdown late in the first half and took an 11-0 lead to the locker room.
A key moment in the first half came when the Bengals finally drove into Cleveland territory and had 4th-and-1 at the Browns 40. Cincinnati decided not to go for it and instead took a delay of game penalty and punted from the 45. Brad Robbins’ punt landed in the end zone for a net of just 25 yards.
Burrow – fresh from signing his $275 million, five-year extension on Saturday – looked like a quarterback who hadn’t taken a preseason snap and was out six weeks with a right calf strain. Burrow completed just 6-of-14 passes for 36 yards.
Burrow’s longest pass in the first half was a 12-yard pass to Ja’Marr Chase, accounting for Cincinnati’s only third down conversion in eight chances.
The Bengals’ defense forced a three-and-out to start the second half and then got the ball at the Cleveland 46. The Bengals drove the ball to the Cleveland 24 before settling for an Evan McPherson 42-yard field goal and their first points of 2023.
— Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) September 10, 2023
Dax Hill’s interception of a Deshaun Watson pass with under 10 minutes left in the third quarter gave the Bengals a chance to tie the game at midfield. But again the Bengals offense stalled and Evan McPherson missed wide left from 51 yards and the Browns maintained their 10-3 lead.