Dalton, Eifert lead Bengals over Browns 31-10 to go 8-0

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Morrison: Eifert Powers Bengals to 8-0

CINCINNATI (AP) — Three touchdown catches on three different routes. Tight end Tyler Eifert got a lot of attention with his latest impressive game.

So did the rest of his team.

Eifert caught three touchdown passes from Andy Dalton on Thursday night, leading the unbeaten Bengals to a 31-10 victory over the Johnny Manziel and the Cleveland Browns that put Cincinnati in totally new territory.

The Bengals are 8-0 for the first time. The eight straight wins are a club record for one season. And they're in control of the AFC North at the season's midpoint.

"It seems like every week it's a first-time ever," receiver Marvin Jones said. "It's all good. We've got to be 9-0 next and keep it moving."

For the Browns (2-7), it's become monotonous. They've lost six of seven and can't even get out of their own way at pivotal times.

"Our mistakes just caught up to us," coach Mike Pettine said.

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Dalton, Eifert lead Bengals over Browns 31-10 to go 8-0
NEW ORLEANS, LA - NOVEMBER 01: Odell Beckham #13 of the New York Giants catches a touchdown in front of Jairus Byrd #31 of the New Orleans Saints during the third quarter of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on November 1, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Denver Broncos outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware (94) sacks Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) for a fumble that led to a safety during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
Oakland Raiders wide receiver Michael Crabtree (15) is tackled by New York Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie (31) during the first half of an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 01: A.J. Green #18 of the Cincinnati Bengals attempts to shed Antwon Blake #41 of the Pittsburgh Steelers before both being called for face-mask penalties in the 4th quarter of the game at Heinz Field on November 1, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Jaron Brown (13) catches the ball for a first down as Cleveland Browns defensive back Tramon Williams (22) watches in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Richard)
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green (18) makes a catch and takes it in for a touchdown as Pittsburgh Steelers defensive back Ross Cockrell (31) defends in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015 in Pittsburgh. The Bengals won 16-10. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
San Diego Chargers running back Melvin Gordon (28) is upended by Baltimore Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb (21) during the second half of an NFL football game in Baltimore, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
ST. LOUIS, MO - NOVEMBER 1: Tavon Austin #11 of the St. Louis Rams scores a touchdown past Ahmad Brooks #55 of the San Francisco 49ers in the second quarter at the Edward Jones Dome on November 1, 2015 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver De'Anthony Thomas (13), right, celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the NFL football game between Detroit Lions and Kansas City Chiefs Wembley Stadium in London, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) is hauled to the turf by San Diego Chargers nose tackle Sean Lissemore (98) during the first half of an NFL football game in Baltimore, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Willie Snead (83) fumbles as he is hit by New York Giants cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (41) in the second half of an NFL football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015. The fumble resulted in a touchdown return for the Giants. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Seattle Seahawks' Ahtyba Rubin (77) and Frank Clark, right, combine to stop Dallas Cowboys' Darren McFadden (20) on a running play in the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 1: Tight end Gary Barnidge #82 of the Cleveland Browns catches a touchdown pass while under pressure from strong safety Tony Jefferson #22 of the Arizona Cardinals during the first half at FirstEnergy Stadium on November 1, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
San Diego Chargers wide receiver Malcom Floyd (80) pulls in a touchdown pass despite interference from Baltimore Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb (21) during the first half of an NFL football game in Baltimore, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 29: Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots reacts after scoring a touchdown during the first quarter against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium on October 29, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

Dalton made hardly any of those in a game that had special significance. Last year, he also faced the Browns at Paul Brown Stadium on Thursday night and had his worst game, throwing three interceptions and finishing with a passer rating of 2.0.

This time, he was nearly flawless. Dalton went 21 of 27 for 234 yards with a passer rating of 139.8. When he arrived for his postgame interview, he didn't even wait for the first question.

"A little different from last year, huh?" Dalton said, his eyes widening.

The quarterback also played lead blocker on Mohamed Sanu's 25-yard reverse for a touchdown, although the play worked so well that there was nobody for him to touch.

By contrast, Manziel managed only one good half. He led the Browns on a 92-yard touchdown drive — their longest since 2013 — just before halftime, cutting the lead to 14-10. In the second half, the Browns managed only 32 yards and two first downs.

"I'm pretty upset," said Manziel, who finished 15 of 33 for 168 yards and was sacked three times, all in the fourth quarter. "We had momentum coming into the second half. We just didn't do enough."

Five things to take away from the Bengals' win:

RARE AIR: The Bengals became the 33rd team in NFL history and the 22nd during the Super Bowl era to open 8-0. Their next game is Monday night at home against Houston (3-5), followed by a trip to Arizona (6-2) for a Sunday night game.

"It's huge to put ourselves in the position we're in, to stay undefeated," Dalton said. "Not a lot of teams have been 8-0 before. We understand that. It's hard to do."

TOUGH TIGHT END: Eifert finished with five catches for 53 yards and scored on catches of 9, 2 and 19 yards. His nine touchdown catches tie the club record for a tight end and give him the NFL lead in that category.

"It doesn't matter," said Eifert, who's second on the team with 35 catches for 434 yards. "I can't control how many balls I get thrown or anything like that, but I can put myself in the best position."

MANZIEL'S DAY: Johnny Football got a rematch against the team that taunted and then tormented him in his NFL debut last December, a 30-0 Bengals win. Coach Marvin Lewis referred to him as "a midget" leading up to the game, and several players mocked his "money-rubbing" gesture while frustrating him. Instead of mocking him this time, they chased him around before ultimately shutting him down in the second half.

"I think it was just inconsistent," Pettine said of his performance. "I thought he did some good things, but I just thought in the second half, especially after we fell behind, he was trying to make too many big plays instead of just taking completions."

BAD SERIES: Browns defensive end Randy Starks got a 15-yard penalty for taunting after making a tackle and was offside on Cincinnati's failed fourth-down pass play during a Bengals touchdown drive that made it 14-3.

BURFICT'S DAY: Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict hurt his left knee — the one that was operated on twice last season — but returned the next series. He also ran into a scoreboard video camera in the back of the end zone while defending one play, knocking it over. The camera operator was examined, returned to his post and finished the game.

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