CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Browns scored 27 points in the second half to knock off the Cincinnati Bengals 34-24 Sunday for their first victory of the season.
The win snapped an 11-game losing streak and made a winner out of Randy Lerner in his final game as Browns majority owner. On Tuesday the NFL is holding a vote to approve the sale of the team from Lerner to Jimmy Haslam III.
The Browns scored two touchdowns 10 seconds apart midway through the fourth quarter. Brandon Weeden threw a three-yard touchdown pass to Benjamin Watson with 8:00 left and then Sheldon Brown returned an interception 19 yards for a touchdown for a 34-17 lead on the Bengals’ next play.
The Bengals did not fold. Andy Dalton connected with A.J. Green for a 57-yard touchdown to make it 34-24 with 5:21 left. The Bengals got the ball back with 4:13 to play and drove to the Browns 9, but a strip sack by Emmanuel Stephens, a fumble recovery and 35-yard return for a touchdown by Billy Winn sealed the victory.
The Browns also got a touchdown from Montario Hardesty and two field goals from Phil Dawson in their highest scoring half of the season.
Both teams relied on big plays to score in what was otherwise a first half dominated by the defenses.
The Bengals scored first on a 55-yard pass play from Dalton to tight end Jermaine Gresham. Gresham stiff-armed linebacker Craig Robertson, the only Browns defender that had a chance to tackle him.
The Bengals’ first touchdown was set up by the defensive line when Geno Atkins tipped a pass from Weeden and defensive end Michael Johnson intercepted it at the Bengals 34 on the Browns first possession.
The Browns answered 9 seconds into the second quarter on a 71-yard pass play from Weeden to Josh Gordon. Gordon got behind the Cincinnati defense and caught the pass one-handed when he stretched out his right hand to haul it in.
Cincinnati expanded the lead to 14-7 before halftime. Dalton threw his second touchdown pass of the game when he hit Green on a 4-yard scoring play with 1:54 left in the first half. The touchdown was set up on a 32-yard punt return by Brandon Tate.
Notes: Defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin was inactive for the Browns because of a calf injury. … Browns wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi missed his third straight game with a hamstring injury. … Terrance Newman started at left cornerback for the Bengals in place of Nate Clements. Clements started at strong safety in place of Taylor Mays.