Manziel struggles in first start as Bengals beat Browns
CLEVELAND (AP) — They chased him. They taunted him. They made him look scared.
The Cincinnati Bengals dismantled Johnny Manziel.
Manziel spent his first NFL start being tormented and taunted by Cincinnati defenders as the Bengals rudely welcomed the rookie quarterback to the league with a 30-0 drubbing of the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
Manziel didn’t come close to living up to the exhausting expectations surrounding his overhyped debut as the AFC North-leading Bengals (9-4-1) built a 20-point halftime lead and rolled to their fourth straight road win.
“Everything was all about Manziel all week,” Bengals linebacker Rey Maualuga. “We just focused on us. We just focused on what we needed to do to stop the kid.”
Promoted earlier this week over the slumping Brian Hoyer to spark the Browns (7-7), Manziel finished 10 of 18 for 80 yards and two interceptions. He was sacked three times, under pressure all afternoon and had Bengals players imitating his signature “money-rubbing” gesture more than once.
“Every time we hit him, every time we got him on his back,” said defensive tackle Domata Peko. “So it was a lot of money signs thrown out today.”
Manziel took the pasting in stride.
“It was tough,” he said. “When you get beat, you get beat and you take it like a man. I felt like it was a fail on my part. “
Bengals rookie Jeremy Hill rushed for 148 yards and two touchdowns, backing up his postgame trash talk of the Browns following a loss to them last month.
The Bengals overwhelmed the Browns on the field and on the stat sheet, recording their first shutout since Dec. 21, 2008 — in Cleveland.
Cincinnati had 347 yards to Cleveland’s 107. The Bengals picked up 24 first downs to five for the Browns, who went just 1 of 10 on third down.
Mike Nugent, who missed practice time this week after his father died, kicked two 44-yard field goals and added a 34-yarder for the Bengals.
Manziel didn’t look ready for the big stage, panicking in the pocket and failing to deliver any of the magic that made him a college football star.
Johnny Football has some work to do.
“Didn’t play well — looked like a rookie, played like a rookie,” Browns coach Mike Pettine said. “We didn’t play well around him, but he made some obvious mistakes that typically a veteran quarterback won’t make.”
The Bengals put together a complete game to strengthen their grip on the division lead, maintaining their half-game lead over Baltimore and Pittsburgh, who both won.
Cincinnati set the tone with a time-consuming, 81-yard touchdown drive to start the game and atoned for a 24-3 loss last month when they were dominated at home by the Browns.
Cincinnati led 20-0 at halftime, and spent the next two quarters making sure Manziel never got going.
The shutout capped a week in which Manziel was called a “midget” by Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, a comment that shows professionals aren’t ready to let him come in and “wreck the league” like he boasted he would do before the Browns selected him with the No. 22 overall pick.
“We didn’t want to let him be Johnny Football versus us,” said Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap.
The Browns were blanked for the first time since a 16-0 loss to Baltimore in 2009.
Manziel’s first half couldn’t have gone much worse.
He was intercepted twice and was lucky that a third pick was nullified by a penalty. The Browns managed just 58 total yards in the opening half and their best scoring chance ended when Manziel scrambled and forced a pass to the end zone that was intercepted by Adam “Pacman” Jones.
“You can’t throw that one whether you’re in Pop Warner or a 6-year-old playing in the driveway,” Manziel said. “That’s 100 percent on me.”
Hill gave the Browns motivation with his postgame comments after last month’s loss, saying “they’re probably worse than I thought” despite Cleveland’s dominant performance. His 2-yard TD run gave the Bengals a 7-0 lead.
After Nugent’s first field goal, Hill scored again, breaking several tackles on a 16-yarder. Hill tried to celebrate by leaping into the stands, but was turned back by a Browns fan wearing a Joe Haden jersey. It was one of the few times Cleveland stopped Cincinnati all day.
NOTES: Browns star CB Joe Haden sustained a shoulder injury and CB Justin Gilbert got a concussion. Pettine said Haden will have an MRI on Monday. … Hill had just 55 yards the previous time the teams played. He surpassed that in the first quarter. … Green had 49 yards receiving after getting 224 a week ago. … Bengals LB Vincent Rey went out after he accidentally collided with Maualuga.
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