What it means: A huge weight has been lifted off the young Browns team. The winless Browns (1-5) avoided franchise infamy by ending an 11-game losing streak, which was tied for the longest in team history. Cleveland also won an AFC North game for the first time in 13 tries. The Bengals (3-3) lost for the second straight week to a team with a losing record and fell two games back of the division-leading Ravens. These losses put a dent in the Bengals’ hopes of getting to the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1981-82. Cincinnati is also 0-2 in the AFC North.
No Richardson, no problem: The Browns have had to deal with so many injuries. Maybe that’s why Cleveland didn’t blink when first-round pick Trent Richardson left the game with what was described as a “flank injury.” Backup running back Montario Hardesty, who had trouble holding onto the ball in the preseason, did more than step up. He finished off a drive with four straight runs, including a spinning one-yard touchdown run that gave the Browns a fourth-quarter lead and their first lead of the game. Hardesty finished with 56 yards rushing.
Another costly mistake for Dalton: In trying to rally the Bengals from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit, Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton had an interception returned by Sheldon Brown for a touchdown. This was the third time that Dalton has had an interception brought back for a score. He finished 31-of-46 for 381 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions.
Gordon goes deep again: For the second straight week, Browns rookie receiver Josh Gordon burned a secondary deep down the field. This time, he ran past safety Reggie Nelson and caught a 71-yard pass for a touchdown in the second quarter. It was the first time since 2002 (Quincy Morgan) that a Browns player had back-to-back games with a catch of 60 yards or more. Three of Gordon's first nine NFL catches have been for touchdowns.
Return of Haden: Joe Haden made an impact in his first game since coming back from his four-game suspension. He had seven tackles (second on the team) and broke up three passes (tied for most on the Browns). Haden also had an interception, his second in two games played, which was converted into a field goal.
Green continues to cause problems: Bengals receiver A.J. Green has been a menace to the Browns defense. He had seven catches for 135 yards and two touchdowns. In four games against Cleveland, Green has had four touchdowns.
What’s next: The Browns play at Indianapolis (2-3), which was routed by 26 points at the New York Jets. The Bengals return home to play the Steelers (2-3), who are coming off an upset loss at Tennessee.