I wrote this right after our game, I kept intending to grab some video, or even photos. But at this point I figure I might as well just post the recap, lol.... After winning the franchise's first Super Bowl Championship last year (in the sim), the Cleveland Browns have had a disappointing roller coaster of a season in 2018. They came into their week 17 match-up, against the division rival Cincinnati Bengals, just hoping to end the season on a positive note and avoid returning back to the land of the Bottom Feeders™ with a sub .500 record. While an 8-8 (non playoff) season is definitely a let down following a championship year, the Browns would do it the hard way, after starting the first half of their season with an abysmal 2-6 mark. After a 4 game winning streak was ended by the Saints a week ago, the Browns took it to their rivals and a void a late surge by the Bengals to earn the 24-17 victory in Cincinnati. The game started off slow, as each team was held to a punt on their first possessions of the game. Former Bengal linebacker Vontaze Burfict, who moved up North to join the Browns in off-season Free Agency 4 years ago, would make the first big play of the game with an interception at midfield, his first of 2 on the day, on the Bengals second drive. The Browns would soon capitalize on the turnover, as quarterback Robert Griffin III would find tight end Jordan Cameron in the corner of the endzone for a 6 yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead early in the 2nd quarter. Late in the 2nd quarter, with the Browns now holding a 10-0 lead, RGIII would chuck a beatufil bomb from midfield to the endzone where a leaping Dee Irvin would haul it in for a 49 yard touchdown and a 17-0 Cleveland lead. Cincinnati would drive down field in the final minute, after the teams traded back to back interceptions, to add a field goal of their own, to cut the lead to 17-3 Cleveland at the half. The Bengals would further cut into the Browns lead, midway through the 3rd quarter, as young superstar tight end Alexander Wooten would haul in a Sharrif Hartman pass and take it 30 yards for a touchdown, making it 17-10 Cleveland. The Browns would give the ball right back, a few plays later, as Cameron would cough up the ball on a short pass. Bengals strong safety Shawn Williams would drill Cameron to knock the ball loose, and cornerback Bill Bentley would fall on it, giving the Bengals possession on the Cleveland 22 yard line. With the Bengals threatening to tie the game, Browns defensive end Jerry Hughes would take matters into his own hands. Hughes, who had largely been a disappointment this season (after coming over in the RGIII/JFF trade) with only a single sack as a member of the Browns, had already had an amazing 4 sacks in this contest, which were twice as many as he had on the season to this point. After a short run on first down, Hughes would sack Hartman on back to back plays on 2nd & 3rd downs, to knock the Bengals back to the edge of possible field goal range. The sacks were the 5th and 6th of the game for Hughes, and he would add another in the 4th for an unimaginable 7 sacks on the day, to tie the NFL record set by late Hall of Fame linebacker Derrick Thomas in 1990, as a member of the Chiefs. Having already missed a 44 yard FG earlier in the 3rd, the Bengals opted to go the safe route and punt to pin the Browns inside their own 20 yard line. The Browns would move to midfield once again, before RGIII would once again connect with one of his talented young receivers for a long touchdown. This time the target would be budding superstar Russ Justice, who Griffin hit in stride on the 5 yard line, before the big receiver lumbered across the goal line with a Cincinnati defender on his back. The 52 yard score allowed the Browns to take a 24-10 lead, with just under 7 minutes to go in the game. The Bengals would not go out without a fight, and marched back into Cleveland territory, poised to cut the Browns lead to a single score. Browns safety Sanders Commings made a great read on a Hartman pass, and intercepted the ball at the goal line, putting an end to a very promising Bengals drive. The Browns knew they had a 16 MPH wind at their backs, and one of the best punters in the league, so they went conservative, with 4 straight runs, in an attempt to either kill some clock or make the Bengals use their timeouts. After a 64 yard punt by Andy Lee, the Bengals would take possession at their own 12 yard line, with just under 2 minutes to go in the game. After a run for a loss on 1st down, Hartman once again connected with Wooten, this time for 52 yards, which all of the sudden put the Bengals in Cleveland territory and quickly swung the momentum of this game. Three plays later, Hartman would connect with receiver Jonathan Baldwin for a 10 yard touchdown. The score brought the deficit to a single touchdown, as the Browns now led 24-17, but amazingly the Bengals managed to do all of this while still possessing all three of their timeouts. What happened next, can only be classified as a Madden Miracle. With only 36 seconds left on the clock, the Bengals had to decide if they wanted to try to pin the Browns back, and rely on their defense to get three stops in a row, or go for the statistically improbable onside kick. Both teams lined up for the onside kick, and Bengals kicker Garrett Hartley performed what seemed to be more of a squib kick, as he booted it about 30 yards down field, toward the sideline. The ball continued to bounce and skid toward the sideline for another 10-15 yards, evading Browns players' hands all the while, before an unidentified Bengals player fell on the ball at the sideline, to give Cincinnati possession at the Browns 21 yard line. With 36 seconds on the clock, and a full complement of timeouts, the Bengals offense had just 21 yards between themselves and a tie ball game. After an incomplete pass on first down, Bengals halfback Vladimir Armstead would run for 9 yards, to put the Bengals at the Browns 13 yard line. On the next play, Hartman would try to connect with his favorite target, receiver Micah Shipley, in the corner of the end zone. Browns All Pro cornerback Joe Haden would make a game saving play, as he read the route all the way and high pointed the ball just over the goal line and came down with the interception to seal the win. ---------------------------------------------------------- Great game AveryB! Craziest onside kick I have ever seen!