Injured fullback Mike Pruitt, coming off the bench to ignite a 77-yard touchdown drive and finish it with a 12-yard touchdown run that offset two fourth-quarter Cincinnati touchdowns, carried the Cleveland Browns over the Bengals today, 20-17.
Running with a sore hamstring, Pruitt carried the ball seven times for 50 yards and caught two passes for 19 yards in the 12-play advance that gave the Browns (1-2) a 20-10 lead in the final period as they handed the AFC Central Division rival Bengals their first loss in three games.
The Browns entered the game with the AFC's lowest rushing total. But Cleo Miller, substituting for Pruitt much of the game, gained 97 yards on 21 carries before he hurt an ankle. Then Pruitt picked up the slack and gained 70 yards on 13 carries. The success of the two rushers complemented Brian Sipe's 259 yards of passing and helped the Browns maintain ball control.
The Bengals had closed to 13-10 when the Browns staged their clinching drive. Pruitt carried 12 yards on a draw to the Cincinnati 12. Back in the huddle, Pruitt heard an unusual call for the next play.
"I was surprised because they (coaches) had sent in the second straight draw," said Pruitt. "I thought they must be crazy. I figured Cincinnati will be waiting on it."
After the play resulted in his touchdown, he remarked: "I guess what all this shows is that those guys upstairs (Brown coaches) are a little smarter than me."