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TDBH: Bengals deflate Johnny Football, 30-0

Posted Dec 13, 2017

This Day in Bengals History - December 14, 2014


CLEVELAND - With the season on the line, the Bengals defense makes a money grab today when they hijack Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel’s first NFL start in Cincinnati’s third greatest stand in franchise history during the 30-0 victory that puts them a win away from their fourth straight postseason with two games left. While posting their first shutout in six years, the Bengals put Manziel through a NFL 101 clinic and hold the Browns to a paltry 107 yards. They sack him three times, hit him six times, give him 2.6 yards per on five carries, and pick him twice while all the while giving the Manziel money sign. “That’s his trademark,” says right end Wallace Gilberry, one of the tone setters who rubs his fingers together after a jarring seven-yard loss on a read option Manziel has time to do neither on Cleveland’s fifth snap of the game. “That’s the thing everyone is going to do against him from here on out. That’s his thing. I just wanted to do it before he did. This week it was all about Manziel and as a team we focused on us.”

What seems to be forgotten in the Manziel Maze is that this is a proud defense that has been the back bone of three straight post-season runs and most of them are still here and prideful and last week’s effort (allowing 42 points to the Steelers at home) along with the implosion against the Browns last month on a Thursday night at Paul Brown Stadium hangs heavy and the Johnny Football stuff started to wear a little thin.  “You know our defense, you know our locker room. We don’t like to get embarrassed like that,” says nose tackle Domata Peko. “We made a point this week in practice to attack downhill. “(The Browns) ran it 52 times. That’s a punch in the face. We came out and got redemption….That Thursday night game has been on our back.” Today the Browns run only 37 plays in just over 21 minutes for their 21st starting quarterback since they came back into the NFL 15 years ago. Figure about 25 of the snaps produce the money sign and one of them, a pass into the midsection of leaping middle linebacker Rey Maualuga draws a 15-yard flag for taunting when Maualuga does it in Manziel’s face.

Left end Carlos Dunlap indicates that Manziel doesn’t see his sign on the final play of the third quarter because his face is in the grass after his sack. “I was excited. I was overjoyed. The whole week the talk was about him and what he was going to do,” Maualuga says. “So every time we had a big play, we had to make some momentum.  The whole talk was how he was going to beat us with his feet; he was going to beat us with his arm. We just had to start fast. The sacks and the incompletions flustered him a little bit. It kind of got him out of rhythm.”  You have to start dusting off the shelves for this one. Only two Bengals opponents have had fewer yards and one of them did it nearly 38 years to the day on Dec. 12, 1976 at Shea Stadium in Joe Willie Namath’s last start as a Jet when they gave just 72 yards, still second fewest ever. Earlier that season, the Bengals’ fifth-ranked defense allowed 35 yards to the Packers, still the fewest. Now a defense tied for 28th and the only one in Bengals’ history that has allowed three 500-yard games in one season comes up with an effort that allows the Browns to get across midfield once while averaging less than three yards per play and knocking then all but out of the playoffs after they left PBS last month at 4-3. “Any time you make a team one-dimensional, you’re going to be able to make calls that make where the ball is going to go predictable,” says cornerback Adam Jones, who has one of the two interceptions. “The thing today was the front did a great job pressuring.”

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