NFL News & Analysis

NFL Week 18 Game Recap: Cleveland Browns 21, Cincinnati Bengals 16

Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Case Keenum (5) scrambles during the first quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

While the 2021-22 NFL season ends in disappointment for the Cleveland Browns, the Cincinnati Bengals are riding high despite a Week 18 loss.

The Browns defeated the Bengals, 21-16, but Cincinnati is heading where Cleveland expected to go: the NFL playoffs as AFC North champions.

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Cleveland Browns


Case Keenum didn’t blow anyone away with his performance in Cleveland, but his two touchdowns were enough to put the necessary distance between the Browns and Bengals. Two-thirds of his throws were targeted short of the sticks, as he dinked and dunked his way through the action.

Dropbacks 27
Yards Per Attempt 7.3
First Downs 9
Passer Rating 102.1
Average Depth of Target 4.8
Running back

Much like last week, D’Ernest Johnson took the bulk of the workload in the backfield, handling 25 of his team’s 41 carries. Johnson averaged five yards a carry, and one-third of his runs moved the chains.

Wide Receivers/Tight ends

Regardless of who plays quarterback for the Browns, finding Jarvis Landry is customary. The slot receiver finished Sunday’s action with six grabs on eight targets, leading both teams in the two categories.

Offensive Line

NFL backups typically don’t provide much in terms of premium pass rush, and Cleveland operated with a clean pocket for nearly all of Sunday’s game. Keenum averaged 2.80 seconds to throw, and the offensive line was responsible for just two pressures all game, pending review.

Defensive Line

Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney combined for 40 pass-rush snaps. The duo logged seven pressures, seven pass rush wins, two hits on the quarterback and three sacks.

Player Pass-Rush Snaps Pressures Knockdowns (Hits + Sacks) Pass-Rush Wins
Myles Garrett 21 2 2 5
Jadeveon Clowney 19 5 3 2

Jacob Phillips made his way to the quarterback on one of his three blitzes, finishing with a sack. Phillips added five solo tackles, three being defensive stops, against the Bengals’ rushing attack.


A.J. Green put forth a strong showing against the Bengals’ wideouts. The defensive back was targeted seven times but allowed only one catch for a meager two yards. Greg Newsome II did not share his teammates’ good fortune, giving up a catch on all seven of his targets for 55 yards and a score.

Cincinnati Bengals


Brandon Allen made the start for Cincinnati as it prepares for the Wild Card round, and he threw for a meager 136 yards and one touchdown in Sunday’s loss. Allen completed just half of his throws and averaged less per passing attempt than his average depth of target (5.2).

Dropbacks 33
Yards Per Attempt 4.7
First Downs 4
Passer Rating 76.2
Average Depth of Target 5.2
Running back

Trayveon Williams and Chris Evans split duties at running back, gaining a combined 73 yards on 16 carries for the Bengals. Sixty-one of those yards came after contact, and just three runs gained 10-plus yards.

Wide Receivers/Tight ends

Ja’Marr Chase likely worked up more of a sweat in warmups than in game action, running just four routes before hanging out on the sideline. Trent Taylor led all Bengals in receiving yardage, with 41 on just two receptions.

Offensive Line

D’Ante Smith allowed only one pressure, but that doesn’t reflect the number of losses the backup guard had in his 28 opportunities. On five separate occasions, Smith was beaten by his assigned pass-rusher, one leading to a sack.

Defensive Line

Wyatt Ray registered the lone sack for a Bengals defensive lineman, and Noah Spence added two hits on Keenum.


Markus Bailey and Clay Johnston combined for 17 tackles against the Browns’ run-heavy approach, two at or behind the line of scrimmage and five qualifying as defensive stops.

Player Run-Defense Snaps  Tackles Defensive Stops TFL/No Gain Avg. Depth of Tackle
Markus Bailey 39 7 1 1 3.00
Clay Johnston 30 10 4 1 2.50

Trae Waynes allowed 44 yards on six targets, five being caught. He and Tre Flowers allowed a combined five first downs, a gain of 15-plus yards and a touchdown.


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