Joe Mixon, Bengals’ rushing offense struggles against Browns: ‘We didn’t win on them’
CLEVELAND, Ohio – The explosive runs never came for the Cincinnati Bengals rushing attack on Monday night.
Running back Joe Mixon ran for a near season and career-low 27 yards on just eight attempts against the Cleveland Browns in the Bengals’ 32-13 prime-time loss on Halloween night. There wasn’t much else Cincinnati’s ground game could do as the Bengals rushed for a season-low total 34 yards.
On paper, Cleveland’s rush defense isn’t all that fancy as it has the 12th-worst rushing defense in the league (123.1 rushing yards per game allowed). Yet, somehow, 34 rushing yards is the fewest allowed by any team the Browns have faced this season. All without Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, one of the Browns’ most disruptive linebackers who’s been an imposing presence.
That’s why Mixon said that there was “nothing really” different that the Browns did to stop the Bengals. Instead, they literally and figuratively stopped themselves short.
“At the end of the day, we gotta come out and execute. And, we didn’t do that tonight,” Mixon said bluntly.
From there though, Mixon’s next six touches didn’t see him run for longer than six yards. Browns linebacker Sione Takitaki told Mixon hello and goodnight more than anyone as he led Cleveland in combined tackles (13) to complement an already disruptive front that features Myles Garrett and a now healthy Jadeveon Clowney.
Although the Bengals have been more of a pass-heavy team as of late, they still went to Mixon for the first three plays of the game. An eight-yard catch on a pass from Joe Burrow opened the game followed by two more short runs, one of which gave the Bengals their first first down of the game.
“They’re a good front. But we got guys who protect too. Sometimes we get caught on big-time plays and get beat on 1-on-1 plays. And, sometimes when you get called, you gotta win. And, we didn’t win on them tonight,” Mixon said.
As the Bengals struggled to find much of anything on the ground from Mixon or Samaje Perine, Burrow turned to the short passing game that mostly featured Mixon, who led the Bengals in receptions on Monday night (7). Still, his 32 receiving yards could not muster much for an offense that was shut out in the first half for the first time this season.
Perine was even more limited as he was held to a frustrating 10 receiving yards on just three catches. The Browns were able to disrupt those short passing routes on top of containing Perine and Mixon for most of the night.
“On the back end, they did a really good job getting to the ball and not letting anything get behind them. Once the ball was thrown short, we didn’t do well-breaking tackles,” Perine said.
The main culprit on Monday night and just about every time Burrow has faced the Browns was Garrett. He sacked Burrow almost two times and has sacked him more than any other quarterback he’s faced in his career. Pro Football Focus rates Garrett as the highest-graded edge rusher for overall defense (92.1) and pass-rushing (93.1).
So, Burrow doesn’t need to see Garrett’s grades or stats to praise him for his efforts.
Despite rushing for over 20 yards in back-to-back games, there was nowhere for Burrow to run and turn against the Browns’ pass rushers. Burrow got hit seven times on top of being sacked 5.5 times Monday night – the most sacks he’s faced in a game since the season-opening loss to Pittsburgh. He finished the night with a season-low two rushing yards.
“He is one of those elites of the elites in the league, so he is always going to go out there and make plays. You have to try to limit his impact on the game, but it is always hard with that guy,” Burrow said.
The task now for the Bengals now is planning ahead for a Carolina Panthers team (2-5) that brings an even more-lowly ranked rushing defense to Cincinnati this Sunday at 1 p.m. E.T. With a short week of preparation, Perine is simply Monday’s performance in the rearview mirror with a confident outlook.
“We know where we can be. We know where we have to be. We know how we have to play. We just have to do it,” Perine said. “We can’t dwell too much on this one. It’s done.”