The Cincinnati Bengals are hoping their problems in primetime are history.
They know for a fact their record is.
Andy Dalton threw for 234 yards and three touchdowns – all to tight end Tyler Eifert – Thusday night against the Cleveland Browns in a memory-scrubbing 31-10 victory before a sellout crowd of 65,816 at Paul Brown Stadium.
The win came 364 days after the worst performance of Dalton’s career when he registered a passer rating of 2.0 in a 24-3 Thursday night loss to the Browns that marked his fifth loss in his last six primetime games.
Dalton produced a season-high passer rating of 139.8 to move the Bengals to 8-0, extending their best start in franchise history while dropping Cleveland to 2-7.
Eifert’s three touchdowns give him an NFL-high nine for the season among tight ends, with all nine coming inside the red zone. His nine TDs also tie Bob Trumpy’s single-season franchise record for tight ends, set in 1969.
Eifert’s three scores against the Browns covered 9, 2 and 19 yards.
The 9-yarder capped the opening drive of the game for the Bengals. The 2-yard score put Cincinnati up 14-3 with 4:34 left in the second quarter, and it came two plays after the Bengals got a huge favor from the Browns.
Dalton bounced an incomplete pass to A.J. Green on fourth and 2, but Cleveland defensive end Randy Starks was offsides, resulting in a first down. Starks also drew a 15-yard taunting penalty after the first play of the drive.
Cleveland quarterback Johnny Manziel, playing for injured starter Josh McCown, threw a 12-yard touchdown to running back Duke Johnson that got the Browns within 14-10 with 19 seconds left in the first half.
It was all Bengals after the break as they outgained the Browns 247 to 32, with the only blemish being a blocked punt that gave Cleveland the ball at the Cincinnati 37 with 3:22 remaining. But the Bengals defense kept the Browns from scoring to seal the win.
Mohamed Sanu added a 25-yard touchdown run on a reverse – the Bengals’ longest rushing TD of the season.
Cincinnati will be back in primetime on Nov. 16 when it hosts Houston on Monday Night Football.