Nov 6, 2014 9:18 PM
Browns lead Bengals 7-3 after 1st quarter
The Associated Press
CINCINNATI (AP) Andy Dalton's interception helped the Cleveland Browns take a 7-3 lead in the first quarter of their AFC North showdown with the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday night.
The game marked the first since 1986 when Bernie Kosar and Boomer Esiason were the quarterbacks that the intrastate rivals played with first place on the line so late in the season.
With a cold, gusty wind making it tough to throw, both teams were conservative early on. And the Bengals made the first big mistake.
Dalton's first pass of the game was high and incomplete. His second pass was intercepted by linebacker Craig Robertson, who returned it to the 18. Five plays later, Ben Tate went into the end zone from 4 yards for the lead.
Dalton completed only one of his first seven throws for 5 yards with the interception, drawing boos from the crowd at Paul Brown Stadium.
Two mistakes by Cleveland helped the Bengals cut it to 7-3. Jim Leonhard fumbled a punt, and Buster Skrine's pass interference penalty on fourth-and-10 extended the drive. Mike Nugent connected on a 43-yard field goal.
There was an honored guest for the game 4-year-old Leah Still, who is fighting cancer and flew in from Philadelphia to see her father play for the first time. Bengals defensive tackle Devon Still has worked with the Bengals to raise more than $1 million for research and treatment of pediatric cancer.
Strong wrote "Leah Strong" on the eye black strip across his face, and police officers at the game had his No. 75 on the back of their uniforms. The team presented a check to Children's Hospital in Cincinnati after the first quarter with Leah on the field.
Both Ohio teams were trying to make headway against their history of struggling in such games.
The Browns hadn't won an AFC North game on the road since 2008, dropping 17 in a row. The Bengals have been horrid in high-profile games, going 18-40 in prime time.
Which one would finally break free from their recent form?
Given the gusty conditions, a lot was on the quarterbacks to avoid mistakes. Dalton came into the game 4-2 career against the Browns.
Cleveland's Brian Hoyer was looking to extend his streak of solid showings. Hoyer held off first-round pick Johnny Manziel to keep the starting job and led the Browns to only their second 5-3 mark since they returned as a franchise in 1999.
Hoyer was 8-3 as Cleveland's starter and came into the game leading the NFL with an average of 13.79 yards per completion.
Both teams were missing some of their top players to injuries because of the limited time to recover from Sunday games.
The Bengals had two reserves starting at linebacker in place of Vontaze Burfict and Rey Maualuga. Running back Giovani Bernard was out for a second straight game with a sore shoulder and hip. Right tackle Andre Smith was inactive with a sprained left ankle. And cornerback Leon Hall was recovering from a concussion.
Cleveland was missing tight end Jordan Cameron to a concussion and leading receiver Andrew Hawkins, who had a sore knee and thigh. Cornerback Justin Gilbert left in the first quarter with a heel injury and was questionable to return.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL