Joe Mixon had his break-out game.
-Rookie running back Joe Mixon, on five yards per carry against the NFL's stingiest per rush defense, became the seventh different Bengals running back on Sunday to enjoy a 100-yard day against Cleveland in the 18 seasons since the Browns came back into the league.
But with 114 yards on 23 carries in the 30-16 victory at Paul Brown Stadium, he's the first one to have his first come in the "Battle of Ohio."
And he admitted there is a sense of relief that the 100-yard game has been reached.
"It feels great," said Mixon, in a mad dash to see his family before they left for the airport for the trip back to Oakland. "The offensive line was great and the receivers did a great job blocking on the perimeters and we just went out and finished." …
Bengals all-time leading rusher Corey Dillon got his first 100-yard day in his ninth game (a home game against San Diego 20 years ago in Riverfront Stadium); Mixon got it in his 11th game …
*Here's the list of 100-yarders vs. Cleveland: Corey Dillon, Rudi and Larry Johnson, Kenny Watson, Cedric Benson, Jeremy Hill and now Mixon. Right tackle Andre Smith said Mixon reminded him of Benson, "The way he put his head down and got four and five yards." … *
_Wide receiver A.J. Green didn't get his first catch until about seven minutes left in the half and it tied him with Carl Pickens for second on the Bengals all-time receptions list with 530. But he waited until only the first snap of the second half to break it on a vintage come-back route over the deep middle for 18 yards. He finished with just five catches for 66 yards, but, as always seems to happen, everyone left talking about him.
It was his 13-yard catch on the right sideline that defied the imagination, not to mention the laws of gravity on the next to last play of the third quarter. Amazed quarterback Andy Dalton tried to explain after Green leaped and contorted his body in super hero fashion and then somehow dragged his second foot in-bounds at the last instant
"Almost his whole body was fully out of bounds and somehow he got his feet in," Dalton said. "It's ridiculous. He's the only guy in the world that could have done that … We've seen him do it a lot through the years. That one's up there. He's the best in the world at doing it."
Browns head coach Hue Jackson didn't believe it and lost the challenge.
"I thought he got it in. Easy," Dalton said. "Easy for him."
Green gave his normal shrug.
"That was a pretty good," he said. "I try to make a play when my number's called."
_Backup Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton and Jackson had the tongues wagging as they spoke with Browns owner Jimmy Haslam on the field before the game. After all, it had only been a mere 26 days since the Browns fouled up a trade that would have made McCarron the Browns starting quarterback Sunday. But McCarron said the talk was only about "college ball."
"No point talking about the trade. It didn't happen and it's not going to happen now," McCarron said. "I saw Mr. Haslam just to say hey to him. I've known Mr. Haslam through the whole draft process. I took a visit there. He's a good Tennessee guy and you know the love between Tennessee and Alabama."
Jackson, who gave McCarron a bear hug, confirmed the 'Bama talk in the wake of Auburn's upset on Saturday.
"I'm glad someone mentioned that. Honestly, we were talking about the Iron Bowl between Auburn and Alabama that was played yesterday." Jackson said with a laugh. "If I'm correct, I think the last time he played in that game, Auburn won that game. I think people sometimes make too much of stuff like that, especially since we had engaged in the previous trade situation. But, we didn't get into anything more than yesterday's Iron Bowl."
_With 3:57 left and the Bengals looking at a third-and-five from the Browns 40 and trying to hold on to a 23-17 lead, rookie wide receiver Josh Malone found himself in the biggest play of the game when Dalton sent him a go route down the left sideline and he beat cornerback Jamar Taylor. But after Malone made a one-handed grab, safety Jabrill Peppers' helmet flew into the play and crashed into Malone's chin, sending both ball and receiver flying out of bounds. Malone, the wind knocked out of him, didn't get up. But a flag came out on Peppers for hitting a defenseless receiver in the head.
First and 10 from the 25. A minute and two Mixon runs later the Bengals were up, 30-17.
Jackson disagreed and called out the officials.
"I thought our player's shoulder hit him in the chest. The torque of the impact could have caused their player's head to react the way it did," Jackson said. "To me, that's football. He didn't target their player's head. That was a huge call at that juncture in the game, and the officials have to get that one right. I thought Jabrill did the right thing during that play, and I stand by him."
Malone said he's not sure what happened. He only knows one thing.
"I have to go back and look at it and see what I did wrong," Malone said. "I have got to catch that ball."
Adam Jones celebrates the birth of his son with a 55-yard punt return that got called back.
-Cornerback William Jackson has been jockeying with Adam Jones for playing time, but when it came time to return a punt they were on the field at the same time and Jackson's crushing block on punter Britton Colquitt provided Jones with the final acreage of a 55-yard TD return in the middle of the second quarter.
Except it was nullified by tight end Cethan Carter's illegal block above the waist.
But Jackson's block stood.
"Knocked a guy out," said defensive back Josh Shaw, and Jackson did knock out Colquitt for a series, anyway, when he was checked for a concussion. He came back in, but not before rookie kicker Zane Gonzalez had to punt and his 16-yard shank set up three more points.
"Just trying to make a play for my team," said Jackson, who didn't know that was the punter.
Jackson didn't see Jones in the Saturday night meeting and he knew his wife was close to giving birth so he figured that's what was going on. And at 11:55 p.m., just in time for game day, Adam Jones Bernard Jr. arrived. But for obvious reasons he didn't stick around and talk after the game. There was a baby to greet.
"I'm sure he's happy," Jackson said. "Every guy wants a son."
It would have been a replay of Jones' last punt return TD, an 81-yarder which came five years ago in the 2012 PBS opener against Cleveland in a 34-27 victory …
The Bengals came in 29th in scoring, but the Browns always seem to be a panacea. They scored 31 and 30 against them this year, the only time they've hit 30. They only scored 30 twice last year one of them was against the Browns.
_Right end Carl Lawson led the way against Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas' replacement with 1.5 sacks and he's in a dead run for Carlos Dunlap's club rookie record of 9.5. He became the fifth Bengals rookie to have at least two multiple sack games (he had 2.5 vs. the Packers) and the first since Dunlap. Dunlap and tackle Geno Atkins split a sack on the first play of the Browns last drive, keeping Dunlap (61.5) three sacks ahead of Atkins (58.5) on the all-time club list. Dunlap is one sack shy of Reggie Williams for second place with Atkins now half a sack from third place and Ross Browner's 59.
Remember how Lawson lost his two front teeth in Cleveland and how he was more upset about getting a sack taken away on the play?
Well, he got 1.5 back.
"We have a lot of things we have to clean up as a defense — especially myself," Lawson said. "We allowed them to get too many yards on the ground. We should have put that team away. I'm not saying they're not a talented team, but we should have played better than what we did."
Cincinnati Bengals host the Cleveland Browns at Paul Brown Stadium in week 12 of the regular season.