By Joe Kay
AP Sports Writer
CINCINNATI — Undrafted rookie Kevin Hogan took off, slipped through several defenders and scored on a 28-yard run, the longest touchdown scramble by a quarterback in Browns history.
All that the Bengals could do was to drop their heads.
They’ve seen this before. Way too much.
The Browns ran for 180 yards overall on Sunday as Cincinnati pulled away to a 31-17 win. It was the most glaring shortcoming for the Bengals, and it wasn’t the first time. Cincinnati (3-4) has given up more than 150 yards rushing three times already.
Two weeks earlier, the Cowboys also ran for 180 yards in their 28-14 win. The Bengals have resolved to fix their defensive issues heading into a game on Sunday in London against Washington (4-3), which has one of the league’s better rushing games as well.
“We had a couple of these games a year ago where they had some yardage on us but when they got it in the red zone, we toughened up,” defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said.
“At the end of the year, we’ll be right where we were a year ago. We’re just doing it the hard way this year.”
The run defense was a strength last season. Cincinnati allowed only one team to run for more than 150 yards in the regular season. Pittsburgh ran for 167 during its first-round playoff win at Paul Brown Stadium.
The Bengals’ run defense ranks 24th in the league this week and is on pace to give up its most yards since 2008.
“We’re trying to hit our stride,” linebacker Karlos Dansby said. “We’re definitely not happy with our results right now.”
The Bengals allowed the second-fewest points in the league last season and returned the nucleus of the defense.
They lost safety Reggie Nelson and end Wallace Gilberry. They also missed linebacker Vontaze Burfict for the first three games as he served an NFL suspension for illegal hits.
The line was formidable last season, getting solid seasons from ends Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson and tackles Geno Atkins and Domata Peko. They’ve slipped in production so far this season.
“They have to play great for us,” Guenther said. “It’s just like with any other good team. If Tom Brady has an off day, they’re probably not going to win. If Ben Roethlisberger has an off day, they’re probably not going to win.
“Our great players have to play great all the time. Against good offenses if you give up one or two plays, that’s it.”
NOTES: LT Andrew Whitworth was cleared from concussion protocol, practiced on a limited basis on Thursday and was on the flight to London. Whitworth said he felt ill after a couple of hits with his helmet while blocking on Sunday against Cleveland. “One of the trainers asked me, ‘Are you feeling OK?’ I told him I felt a little nauseous but other than that I was good,” Whitworth said. “He came back in the huddle and said, ‘You know what, on second thought, if you’re saying something feels weird, you need to come out.’ Great job by him.” … The Bengals are in good health heading into the game. CB Dre Kirkpatrick (groin) and G Clint Boling (shoulder) fully practiced on Thursday. Burfict got a day of rest that was not injury-related.
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