Final

Browns 48

(3-8, 0-5 away)

Bengals 58

(5-6, 4-2 home)

1:00 PM ET, November 28, 2004

 

1 2 3 4 T
CLE 10 3 21 1448
CIN 14 13 14 1758

Holcomb throws five TDs for naught

CINCINNATI (AP) -- Kelly Holcomb threw for 400 yards and five touchdowns -- and lost.

Strange? Not as strange as those other numbers glowing on the scoreboard as Holcomb trudged off the field with his head down and more misery ahead.

Allen's Analysis

Eric Allen

Browns at Bengals: How do you explain the offensive explosion in Cincy?

This game was unbelievable and it's extremely difficult to explain the offensive success of either team because there is no way these two teams should've been able to put up that many points. Neither squad is thought of as a great offensive team or even a potentially great offensive unit. Cincinnati definitely has the offensive components to put points on the board with QB Carson Palmer, RB Rudi Johnson and WR Chad Johnson but they've been inconsistent all season. Meanwhile, Cleveland has problems at receiver, running back and quarterback. So it was quite baffling to watch this game and these two teams put up touchdown after touchdown.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders. He's a regular contributor to Insider.

Cincinnati 58, Cleveland 48.

The intrastate rivals played the wildest game in their history Sunday, one that defied logic and wound up as the second-highest scoring game in NFL history.

"You just can't explain the second half, and there's no need to try to," Bengals linebacker Brian Simmons said. "It was a great game for the fans, I guess."

It started as a referendum on the two head coaches, and quickly turned into a rewrite of the record books. The points came so fast that it seemed a recount might be needed to determine who won Ohio's bragging rights.

"It was crazy," said the Bengals' Rudi Johnson, who ran for 202 yards and two touchdowns. "Just crazy."

The 106 combined points were the second most in an NFL game, trailing only the Redskins' 72-41 victory over the Giants on Nov. 27, 1966. Until Sunday, the most points in a game since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970 was 99 -- Seattle beat Kansas City 51-48 in overtime on Nov. 27, 1983.

In the end, the Browns (3-8) had the ball and a chance to send this one to overtime, as well. Deltha O'Neal's interception and 31-yard return for a touchdown finally decided it with 1:43 left.

"We kept putting them away, and they kept coming back," said Cincinnati's Carson Palmer, who threw a career-high four touchdown passes. "We kept expecting them to slacken up, but they never did."

No one expected anything like it.

The Browns' defense has been the only dependable thing during their losing streak, now up to five. The Bengals (4-5) have been watching their young defense grow up fast, allowing only two touchdowns in the three previous games.

On Sunday, it looked like they were playing two-hand touch. Two previously struggling offenses combined for 49 first downs and 966 yards, gaudy numbers set up by innumerable missed tackles and broken coverages.

The first five possessions of the second half resulted in touchdowns, many of them as easy as they get because of defensive breakdowns.

"It is what it is," Browns defensive back Robert Griffith said glumly. "We gave up too many big plays -- deep balls, long runs. It's just frustrating. When it rains it pours, and right now we've got to turn off the sprinkler."

Holcomb, who took the Browns to the playoffs under coach Butch Davis in 2002, nearly got him a desperately needed victory. Holcomb threw four touchdown passes in the second half, including a 1-yard toss to Steve Heiden that put Cleveland up 48-44 with 10:22 to play.

Holcomb knew it wouldn't be enough.

"The way the game was going, I felt like we needed to score two more times," said Holcomb, who has thrown for 400 yards twice in his career and lost both games.

The Browns put up their most points since a 51-0 victory over Pittsburgh in the 1989 opener. This one surely will turn up the heat on Davis, who has been assured of finishing the season and nothing more.

"I'd be lying if I didn't tell you it was demoralizing," Davis said. "There's not a lot of joy in losing."

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis also had a lot riding on the game. He screamed at his team following a loss to Pittsburgh last week, turning this game into a test of his credibility.

His credibility survived better than his defense.

"I don't know if I've ever been in a situation where the defense had a game like that, but we'll take it," said Lewis, whose defense in Baltimore gave up only 165 points during the 2000 regular season.

Palmer, who has struggled in his first season running the offense, threw touchdown passes of 18 yards to Kelley Washington, 46 to Chad Johnson and 3 yards to T.J. Houshmandzadeh as the Bengals went up 27-13 at halftime -- more points than they'd scored in any game all season.

Holcomb was only getting started.

Most points in a game
113 -- Washington 72, New York Giants 41, Nov. 27, 1966
106 -- Cincinnati 58, Cleveland 48, Nov. 28, 2004
101 -- Oakland 52, Houston 49, Dec. 22, 1963
99 -- Seattle 51, Kansas City 48 (OT), Nov. 27, 1983
98 -- Chicago Cardinals 63, New York Giants 35, Oct. 17, 1948
98 -- San Diego 54, Pittsburgh 44, Dec. 8, 1985
97 -- Los Angeles Rams 70, Baltimore 27, Oct. 22, 1950
96 -- New York Jets 51, Miami 45 (OT), Sept. 21, 1986
95 -- Green Bay 48, Washington 47, Oct. 17, 1983
95 -- x-Philadelphia 58, Detroit 37, Dec. 30, 1995
(x-wild card game)
Filling in for the injured Jeff Garcia, Holcomb led the Browns to touchdowns on their first five possessions in the second half. Holcomb had one of his best games -- 30-for-39 for 412 yards, the second-most yards in his career.

Palmer, who missed practice last week with back spasms, was 22-of-29 for 251 yards with three interceptions that helped the Browns keep up.

"It wasn't pretty but when you win, you get to wash it out the window," Palmer said.

And right into history.

Game notes


Heiden had seven catches for 82 yards and three touchdowns, all career highs. ... Holcomb threw for 348 yards in the second half. His career high is 429 yards in the playoff loss to Pittsburgh in 2002. ... Johnson tied his career high with 10 catches, and Houshmandzadeh had his first two-TD game. ... Rudi Johnson's 202 yards were a season high. He topped 1,000 yards for the season. ... The Bengals wore their orange jerseys for the second and final time of the season.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERCLECIN
cleTD14:50Touchdown
Drive info: 1 plays, 7 yds, 0:00
60
FOURTH QUARTERCLECIN
cleTD10:29Touchdown
Drive info: 1 plays, 1 yds, 0:00
4744
cinTD1:50Touchdown
Drive info: 1 plays, 30 yds, 0:00
4857
FIRST QUARTERCLECIN
cle14:50
Drive info: 1 plays, 7 yds, 0:00
70
THIRD QUARTERCLECIN
cleTD4:00Touchdown
Drive info: 2 plays, 68 yds, 0:29
3341
FOURTH QUARTERCLECIN
cle10:29
Drive info: 1 plays, 1 yds, 0:00
4844
cin1:50
Drive info: 1 plays, 30 yds, 0:00
4858
FIRST QUARTERCLECIN
cinTD13:10Touchdown
Drive info: 3 plays, 79 yds, 1:12
76
SECOND QUARTERCLECIN
cinFG0:06Shayne Graham 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 3 plays, 23 yds, 0:13
1327
THIRD QUARTERCLECIN
cleTD14:00Touchdown
Drive info: 3 plays, 63 yds, 0:55
1927
cinTD12:30Touchdown
Drive info: 3 plays, 72 yds, 1:00
2033
cle4:00
Drive info: 2 plays, 68 yds, 0:29
3441
FIRST QUARTERCLECIN
cin13:10
Drive info: 3 plays, 79 yds, 1:12
77
cinTD10:31Touchdown
Drive info: 3 plays, 67 yds, 0:56
713
THIRD QUARTERCLECIN
cle14:00
Drive info: 3 plays, 63 yds, 0:55
2027
cin12:30
Drive info: 3 plays, 72 yds, 1:00
2034
FIRST QUARTERCLECIN
cin10:31
Drive info: 3 plays, 67 yds, 0:56
714
THIRD QUARTERCLECIN
cinTD4:44Rudi Johnson, 7 yd run
Drive info: 7 plays, 58 yds, 3:44
2740
FOURTH QUARTERCLECIN
cinTD7:30Rudi Johnson, 7 yd run
Drive info: 7 plays, 60 yds, 2:45
4850
SECOND QUARTERCLECIN
cinFG1:20Shayne Graham 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 6 plays, 15 yds, 3:50
1324
THIRD QUARTERCLECIN
cleTD9:15Touchdown
Drive info: 7 plays, 58 yds, 2:45
2634
cin4:44
Drive info: 7 plays, 58 yds, 3:44
2741
FOURTH QUARTERCLECIN
cin7:30
Drive info: 7 plays, 60 yds, 2:45
4851
THIRD QUARTERCLECIN
cle9:15
Drive info: 7 plays, 58 yds, 2:45
2734
FOURTH QUARTERCLECIN
cleTD10:56William Green, 1 yd run
Drive info: 6 plays, 80 yds, 3:19
4044
FIRST QUARTERCLECIN
cleFG5:18Phil Dawson 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 8 plays, 64 yds, 4:44
1014
SECOND QUARTERCLECIN
cleFG15:00Phil Dawson 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 7 plays, 16 yds, 3:35
1314
cinTD6:50Touchdown
Drive info: 6 plays, 61 yds, 3:11
1320
FOURTH QUARTERCLECIN
cle10:56
Drive info: 6 plays, 80 yds, 3:19
4144
SECOND QUARTERCLECIN
cin6:50
Drive info: 6 plays, 61 yds, 3:11
1321
FOURTH QUARTERCLECIN
cinFG14:19Shayne Graham 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 10 plays, 57 yds, 4:14
3444