Photo: Suzanne Murray
No overtime this time. The Bengals brushed aside their intrastate rival with one record-setting quarter.
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CINCINNATI (AP) — No overtime this time. The Bengals brushed aside their intrastate rival with one record-setting quarter.
Andy Dalton threw two touchdown passes and Cincinnati returned a blocked punt and a fumble for touchdowns during a 31-point second quarter that set a Bengals record and swept the AFC North leaders to a 41-20 victory over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
The Bengals (7-4) head into their bye week with their division lead intact and two rough weeks washed away by 15 minutes of domination. They'd lost their last two games in overtime, tying the NFL record and allowing the Browns (4-6) to draw close.
No NFL team has ever played three straight overtime games. By halftime, the Bengals had this one in hand. It ended as the most lopsided game in the intrastate series since Cincinnati's 30-0 win in Cleveland in 2006.
Dalton had a horrid start that helped Cleveland get a promising early lead. He threw two passes that were picked off by Joe Haden, who ran one of them back 29 yards for a touchdown and a 13-0 lead in the first quarter.
When the quarter ended, Cleveland fell apart.
Dalton threw touchdown passes of 25 yards to Jermaine Gresham and 6 yards to Mohamed Sanu, emerging from his recent funk. He has thrown eight interceptions in his last three games, a major factor in the two overtime losses.
The Bengals were just getting started on the highest-scoring quarter in their history.
Undrafted rookie Jayson DiManche blocked Spencer Lanning's punt and safety Tony Dye — promoted from the practice squad one day earlier — returned it 24 yards for a touchdown. Cleveland hadn't had a punt blocked in 20 years.
One minute and 50 seconds later, linebacker Vontaze Burfict forced Chris Ogbonnaya to fumble after a catch and ran the ball back 13 yards for another touchdown. Mike Nugent's 41-yard field goal capped off the quarter and made it 31-13.
The 31 points matched the second-most allowed by the Browns in one quarter. They hadn't done it since they gave up 31 in the second quarter at Houston on Dec. 9, 1990. The club record is 35 points allowed in the first quarter of a 35-7 loss at Green Bay in 1967.
Dalton threw another touchdown pass in the fourth quarter, giving him three overall. He was 13 of 27 for only 93 yards.
Jason Campbell threw a 74-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter to Josh Gordon, who got a step on Dre Kirkpatrick, but had an otherwise disappointing showing. Campbell hadn't thrown an interception in 90 attempts this season, but was picked off three times. He set a career high with 56 pass attempts and completed 27 for 248 yards.
The Bengals went conservative to run down the clock in the second half, when heavy rain moved in. Cincinnati avoided the nasty weather that caused a delay in Chicago's game.
Haden had his first two-interception game while shutting down A.J. Green. He stepped in front of a sideline throw to Green for his interception and touchdown. Haden held the 2012 All-Pro receiver to two catches for 7 yards, ending his club-record streak of five straight games with at least 100 yards.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org