CINCINNATI (AP) – Tight end Tyler Eifert caught three touchdown passes from Andy Dalton on Thursday night, leading the unbeaten Bengals to a 31-10 victory over Johnny Manziel and the Cleveland.
In the Texas-bred quarterback showdown between former TCU star Dalton and ex-Texas A&M standout Manziel, the ex-Frog won hands down. Dalton completed 21 of 27 passes for 234 yards with a passer rating of 139.8. Manziel was 15 of 33 for 168 yards and was sacked three times, all in the fourth quarter.
The victory gave the Bengals an 8-0 record for the first time and put them in control of the AFC North at the season’s midpoint.
“It seems like every week it’s a first-time ever,” receiver Marvin Jones said. “It’s all good. We’ve got to be 9-0 next and keep it moving.”
For the Browns (2-7), it’s become monotonous. They’ve lost six of seven and can’t even get out of their own way at pivotal times.
“Our mistakes just caught up to us,” coach Mike Pettine said.
Dalton made hardly any mistakes in a game that had special significance. Last year, he also faced Manziel and the Browns in Cincinnati on Thursday night; the Bengals won the game but Dalton had his worst game, throwing three interceptions and finishing with a passer rating of 2.0.
This time, he was nearly flawless. When he arrived for his postgame interview, he didn’t even wait for the first question.
“A little different from last year, huh?” Dalton said, his eyes widening.
The quarterback also played lead blocker on Mohamed Sanu’s 25-yard reverse for a touchdown, although the play worked so well that there was nobody for him to touch.
By contrast, Manziel managed only one good half. He led the Browns on a 92-yard touchdown drive – their longest since 2013 – just before halftime, cutting the lead to 14-10. In the second half, the Browns managed only 32 yards and two first downs.
“I’m pretty upset,” Manziel said. “We had momentum coming into the second half. We just didn’t do enough.”