NFL: Cincinnati Bengals recover to beat divisional rivals Cleveland Browns in Ohio
The Cincinnati Bengals tightened their grip on the AFC North with a see-saw 40-21 victory over the Cleveland Browns.
Last Updated: 18/11/13 1:53am
The Bengals - who are now 7-4 for the season heading into their bye week - had to overcome a disastrous first quarter and some atrocious weather to see off the Browns in the battle of Ohio.
Having lost their last two games in overtime, Cincinnati stuttered out of the blocks and fell 13-0 down. Quarterback Andy Dalton was picked off twice, both times by Joe Haden with the cornerback returning the second to the end zone.
That defensive score took Cleveland's lead into double figures following on from a pair of field goals by kicker Billy Cundiff from 20 and 28 yards out.
However, the response from the Bengals was not only emphatic but record breaking.
Helped by two blocked punts and a defensive touchdown of their own, the home team thrilled the majority of the crowd inside Paul Brown Stadium by notching no less than 31 points without reply in the second quarter.
Dalton made amends for his earlier mistakes with touchdown passes of 25 and six yards to tight end Jermaine Gresham and receiver Mohamed Sanu respectively, putting his team into a lead that they would refuse to relinquish.
Undrafted rookie Jayson DiManche blocked a second punt by Spencer Lanning, allowing safety Tony Dye - promoted from the practice squad one day earlier - to pick up the loose ball and carry it 24 yards for a touchdown.
Things got even worse for the Browns when a fumble was scooped up by Vontaze Burfict just over a minute later, the linebacker taking the ball in from 13 yards out. Before half time Mike Nugent added a field goal, making it a new franchise record number of points in a quarter for the Bengals.
Cleveland did cut the gap to 11 when quarterback Jason Campbell and wide receiver Josh Gordon combined on a spectacular 74-yard scoring pass, though that would be as close as they would get to any sort of a comeback in the rain.
Dalton threw his third TD, though he only mustered a total of 93 passing yards all game, when he hit Alex Smith from two yards out before Nugent's second field goal of the day rounded out the scoring.
The win means the Bengals square the seasonal series, Cleveland having won the first meeting back in week four.