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RECAP
10/14/2012 10:18 PM EDT
Browns end losing skid, 34-24 over Bengals
CLEVELAND 34, CINCINNATI 24

By TOM WITHERS
AP Sports Writer

CLEVELAND (AP) -- Phil Dawson wasn't entirely convinced the
Browns' agonizing losing streak had ended.



But once the longtime kicker stepped inside Cleveland's jubilant
locker room there was no doubt. As players hugged in
celebration, incoming owner Jimmy Haslam III beamed while
shaking hands with many players who had never felt the joy of
winning an NFL game. Dawson remembered the feeling.



Nearly one year later, the Browns had won again.



"It was fun to see guys jumping around and happy," said the
37-year-old Dawson, who has been with the Browns since 1999.
"They never had that feeling before and it was great to see."



Rookie Brandon Weeden threw two touchdown passes on his 29th
birthday, cornerback Joe Haden sparked Cleveland's defense with
his return from a suspension, and the Browns, competitive but
winless through five games, snapped an 11-game losing streak
going back to last November by beating the Cincinnati Bengals
34-24 on Sunday.



Cleveland had not won since Nov. 20, matching a franchise record
for consecutive losses. But for the first time this season
everything fell into place for the Browns (1-5).



"A big weight was lifted off our shoulders," said Haden, who
intercepted a pass by Dalton in third quarter to set up a field
goal. "It felt like we won the Super Bowl. We just didn't give
up."



Montario Hardesty, filling in for injured rookie Trent
Richardson, scored on a 1-yard plunge and veteran cornerback
Sheldon Brown intercepted Cincinnati's Andy Dalton and returned
it 19 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter as the Browns
outscored the Bengals (3-3) in the second half 27-10.



It was the first win in nine tries against an AFC North opponent
for second-year Browns coach Pat Shurmur. The victory also
closed Randy Lerner's tenure as Cleveland's majority owner. His
sale to Haslam for $1 billion is expected to be approved by the
league's owners on Tuesday.



The Browns hadn't been able to put together a complete game
under Shurmur. There were still some major flaws, but one of the
NFL's youngest teams did some growing up and took some of the
pressure off Shurmur, who needed a win to impress Haslam, the
truck-stop magnate and a former minority owner of the Pittsburgh
Steelers.



With the Browns leading 27-17 after Weeden's 3-yard TD pass to
Benjamin Watson, Brown stepped in front of Brandon Tate and felt
the ball thud into this stomach. He ran it all the way back as
Cleveland fans, whose patience has been pushed to the limit with
years of losing, rocked Browns Stadium as it hadn't been in
years.



"We got our stadium back today," Hardesty said. "It was great.
The crowd was going crazy. Now we have to build on that
feeling."



The loss was the Bengals' fourth in the last 17 games against
the Browns.



"We have got to play better," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said.
"We've got to fix it. Obviously we are not playing consistently
enough for the ability of the guys that we have. We're almost
too nice at times and we've got to have more of a killer
instinct."



Dalton finished 31 of 46 for 381 yards with three TDs - two to
A.J. Green - and three interceptions.



One of the picks was by Haden, who returned after serving a
four-game suspension for violating the league's policy on
performance enhancers. Haden had seven tackles and made two big
third-down plays.



Weeden went 17 of 29 for 231 yards and found rookie Josh Gordon
for a 71-yard TD in the second quarter, who hauled in Weeden's
pass with one hand before scoring his third TD in two games.



Hardesty's 1-yard TD dive on the first play of the fourth
quarter gave the Browns, who trailed 14-7 at halftime, their
first lead at 20-14.



Hardesty was in for Richardson, who took a helmet to the side
early in the game. He finished with just 37 yards on 14 carries.



"It's a big relief," Richardson said. "Words cannot even explain
right now how I feel. We know that we've been in every game and
we should have been finishing strong like this."



The Bengals made it 20-17 on Mike Nugent's 44-yard field goal
with 11:11 left.



After Brown's TD made it 34-17, the Bengals struck back quickly
on Dalton's 57-yard TD pass to A.J. Green with 5:21 left.
Cincinnati got the ball back and was driving again when Dalton
was sacked and stripped by Emmanuel Stephens. Browns rookie
Billy Winn recovered it and rumbled 35 yards into Cincinnati
territory, sending Cleveland fans into delirium.



"I thought I could go all the way," the 295-pound Winn said. "My
legs were telling me to keep going, but I could feel a guy
behind me and I knew it was over."



Moments later, Cleveland's streak was over, too.



NOTES: Dawson made two FGs and is 12 for 12. ... Green finished
with 7 catches for 135 yards. His 108 catches and 13 TDs are the
most by any player in NFL history through his first 21 games.
... The last time the Browns ended an 11-game losing streak they
also did it against the Bengals, in 1975. ... Richardson expects
to play next week at Indianapolis. ... Bengals RB Brian Leonard
left in the second half with a rib injury. .... After giving up
243 yards rushing last week the Browns held the Bengals to 76 on
20 carries.

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