Quarterback Boomer Esiason passed for 262 yards and a touchdown today to outshine rookie Bernie Kosar and lead the Cincinnati Bengals to a 27-10 NFL victory over the Cleveland Browns.
Esiason, a former Maryland quarterback, completed 23 of 33 passes without an interception, going frequently to his backs and tight ends to whittle away yards. Wide receiver Cris Collinsworth accounted for 135 yards on eight catches. Kosar completed 16 of 32 passes for 229 yards in his fifth pro start.
The Bengals (5-5) have won the last four games against their intrastate rivals, who fell to 4-6.
Esiason said that through Coach Sam Wyche, he is learning one of the important lessons for a young quarterback -- to calmly seek the open receiver.
"Sam is drilling it into my head every week -- patience, patience," Esiason said.
"He's definitely on top of his game now," Kosar said. "He played exceptionally well today."
Neither offense was consistent in the first half, which ended with the Bengals going ahead by 14-7 on a long touchdown drive in the closing minutes.
A short punt by Cleveland's Jeff Gossett put the ball on the Browns' 35-yard line midway through the first quarter. Esiason chipped away in eight plays, culminating in an eight-yard touchdown pass to running back James Brooks.
Kosar guided Cleveland to its only touchdown with an 80-yard drive to begin the second quarter. Running back Earnest Byner took a short pass from Kosar and burned a Cincinnati blitz for a tying 27-yard touchdown.
Esiason eluded a rush and hit Collinsworth with a 27-yard pass to start an 80-yard march with just 1:49 to play. A pass interference penalty on linebacker Eddie Johnson at the goal line set up Charles Alexander's one-yard touchdown run with 14 seconds left in the half.
A disputed call got the Bengals three points midway through the third quarter. Kosar swung a pass out to Byner, who failed to catch it. Linebacker Reggie Williams fell on the ball at the Cleveland 25, and it was ruled a backward pass after discussion by the officials. Jim Breech kicked a 28-yard field goal seven plays later.
Kevin Mack's 47-yard run set up a 39-yard field goal by Matt Bahr that brought the Browns to 17-10 with 5:09 left in the third quarter, but Breech answered with a 33-yard kick early in the fourth quarter.
The Bengals intercepted two Kosar passes late in the game, the last one setting up Larry Kinnebrew's three-yard touchdown run with 2:49 to play to extend the Bengals' lead to 27-10.
Cleveland's Ozzie Newsome caught seven passes to raise his career total to 484 and surpass by four Jackie Smith's NFL career reception record for tight ends. Newsome, an eighth-year veteran, has caught a pass in 92 consecutive games.