December 20, 2014

Medina
Cloudy
27°F
 

Browns: Haden sparkles against Green

CINCINNATI — Browns cornerback Joe Haden scored his first NFL touchdown and posted his initial two-interception game Sunday in Cincinnati’s 41-20 victory at Paul Brown Stadium.

The fourth-year pro also held Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green to a career-low 7 yards on two receptions, but wasn’t in the mood to celebrate either of his accomplishments.

Browns cornerback Joe Haden celebrates his interception return for a touchdown in the first quarter. (AP PHOTO)

“In the big picture, it sucks,” Haden said. “I wouldn’t say what I did was wasted — I’m always out there trying to help our team win any way I can — but I’m just a little upset right now. Just a little upset about the way things went for us.”

Haden became the first Cleveland player with a multiple-interception game since T.J. Ward had two at Jacksonville on Nov. 21, 2010. He took more pleasure, though, in his pick-six off Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton in the first quarter.

Dalton attempted to thread the needle to Green in the right flat when Haden jumped the route, grabbed the ball and scored on a 29-yard return that gave the Browns a 13-0 lead.

“I was just playing man-to-man off coverage and once A.J. stopped, I broke on it and threw both of my hands up,” Haden said. “I caught it, then went to the house. Honestly, I always thought my first pick-six would be different, so I wasn’t sure how to react.”

Haden’s TD celebration was surprisingly low-key, unlike the elaborate dance routine that he vowed would accompany it when it finally occurred. He simply sprinted across the back of the end zone before heading to the bench with several teammates in tow.

“Nah, man, I couldn’t do that crazy stuff today,” Haden said. “My whole focus was on beating the Bengals. This wasn’t the time or the place for anything else.”

Green entered the afternoon leading the NFL with 1,013 receiving yards, but had his five-game streak of 100-yard performances snapped by Haden’s lockdown coverage.

Dalton also was throwing to Green on Haden’s first interception, which he returned 15 yards to set up a Browns field goal.

“Joe had a tremendous day — a career day — and played a stellar game,” Cleveland linebacker D’Qwell Jackson said.

“That’s the kind of player he is and what we expect from him. I’m happy for Joe, that he could finally get that pick-six he’s been looking for. I just wish we could have gotten the win for him, too.”

Campbell is soup

Quarterback Jason Campbell played his first poor game in three starts for the Browns, attempting a career-high 56 passes with his first three interceptions of the season and a fumble. He finished 27-of-56 for 248 yards, but 183 of them came in the second half.

“I’m more disappointed in myself more than anything,” he said. “I thought I was being a leader coming out here, but this opportunity, we let get by.”

Campbell tossed one touchdown — a 74-yarder to wide receiver Josh Gordon — in the third quarter with Cleveland trailing 31-13.

Linebacker James Harrison, safety Reggie Nelson and defensive end Michael Johnson accounted for the interceptions, but there is a good chance Johnson’s theft could be changed to a fumble recovery when Elias Sports Bureau reviews the game film.

Wide receiver Greg Little appeared to catch Campbell’s 1-yard pass late in the fourth and take two steps before Johnson ripped it out of his hands.

Also of note, Campbell declined to answer when asked if his rib injury flared up during the game. He was hurt when Ravens linebacker Haloti Ngata landed on him and he landed on the ball in the Browns’ last game on Nov. 3.

“I put the onus on my shoulders,” said Campbell, whose passer rating was 44.3. “I’m very disappointed.”

Brownie bits

Gordon made five receptions for 125 yards, but was targeted a game-high 15 times and had three dropped passes. He is the first Cleveland player with four 100-yard receiving games in a season since Braylon Edwards in 2007.

“Jason can throw a great deep ball and it worked out to perfection,” Gordon said of his career-high 74-yard TD catch. “I just wish we had maybe a few more plays like that in this game.”

• The Browns were denied their first three-game winning streak in the AFC North Division.

• Running back Chris Ogbonnaya rushed for 69 yards, including a career-long 43-yarder, but lost a fumble on a reception that Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict returned for a touchdown.

• Spencer Lanning had one punt deflected and one punt blocked. The latter was the first by a Cleveland punter since Brian Hansen was rejected by Bubba McDowell of the Houston Oilers on Nov. 21, 1993.

• Linebacker Brandon Magee drove back to Cleveland on the team equipment truck because he did not want to fly through thunderstorms on the Browns’ charter flight.

Bengal bytes

Cincinnati heads into its bye week with a 2½-game lead in the AFC North Division. The Bengals are 7-4, while the Browns, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh are 4-6.

“We let some people back into the race with our losses, so this win was big,” safety George Iloka said. “You have to defend your home turf.”

• Quarterback Andy Dalton was limited to 93 yards on 13-of-27 passing attempts. He threw three touchdowns and two interceptions, but was not sacked.

• Tight ends Jermaine Gresham and Alex Smith accounted for two of Dalton’s three scores, while wide receiver Mohamed Sanu had the third.

“We have so many talented guys, anytime I can squeeze in and contribute, that’s what I’m going to do,” said Smith, who spent the previous three years with Cleveland.

• Linebacker Jayson DiManche blocked Lanning’s punt, allowing safety Tony Dye to pick it up and score a touchdown one day after being promoted from Cincinnati’s practice squad.

Injury update

The Browns’ inactives were tight end MarQueis Gray (hamstring), linebacker Brandon Magee, center Patrick Lewis, tackle Martin Wallace, guard Garrett Gilkey, nose tackle Ishmaa’ily Kitchen and tackle Reid Fragel.

Guard Jason Pinkston was active for the first time this season, but did not play.

Linebacker Craig Robertson (knee) and wide receiver Armanti Edwards (ankle) both exited the game for good in the second.

• Not in uniform for the Bengals were linebacker Rey Maualuga (knee), guard Kevin Zeitler (foot), safety Chris Crocker (hamstring), defensive tackle Devon Still (elbow), running back Rex Burkhead, guard Tanner Hawkinson and wide receiver Ryan Whalen.

Vincent Rey started at middle linebacker in place of Maualuga, while Mike Pollack got the nod for Zeitler at right guard.

In memoriam

Bengals president Mike Brown, whose father Paul was a legendary coach with the Browns, issued a statement about the death of Mike McCormack. The Pro Football Hall of Famer, who played for Cleveland from 1954-62, died Friday at age 83.

“Mike was the last of my true football heroes,” Brown said. “With the old Browns, he was captain and he represented everything a captain should. He was a great player and a great person off the field. The NFL never made them better than Mike McCormack.”

McCormack was a six-time Pro Bowl selection and an inaugural member of the Cleveland Browns Ring of Honor. The Browns will wear helmet decals honoring McCormack beginning next week.

Extra points

A sellout crowd of 63,856 was in attendance. The kickoff conditions were 62 degrees and dry, but anticipated rain arrived midway through the third quarter.

• The Bengals wore orange tops and white pants, while the Browns sported white shirts and brown pants. Cincinnati has a 12-5 record while wearing that uniform combination, which it unveiled in 2004.

• Bengals mascot Who Dey wore a camouflage coat as part of the NFL’s Salute to Service day.

• Cincinnati leads the all-time series 43-38, including a 27-14 edge at home and a 10-4 advantage at Paul Brown Stadium.

Contact Brian Dulik at brisports@hotmail.com.