CINCINNATI (AP) — Joe Mixon got frustrated as the subpar games piled up. At times, the rookie running back who picked up 100 yards so easily at Oklahoma couldn't even get to the line of scrimmage.
Against the Browns, he got his long-awaited breakout game.
Mixon ran for a career-high 114 yards in Cincinnati's best offensive showing since the last time it faced Cleveland, a 30-16 victory that left the Browns winless heading into December for the second year in a row.
Next, the Bengals (5-6) put it all on the line in a Monday night game against the AFC North-leading Steelers. At least they'll have a running game that was by far the worst in the league — and worst in franchise history — until it finally gained some traction Sunday.
"I look forward to going to practice next week with heads held high," said Mixon, whose 11-yard touchdown run put it away. "The locker room's going to be great, and this is a big one ahead of us."
Afterward, Mixon and Browns rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer traded jerseys at midfield. While Mixon finally had his first big moment in the NFL, Kizer is still waiting for something to celebrate.
There was yelling in the Cleveland locker room after the Browns dropped to 0-11 . Last year, they waited until their 15th game to get their only victory, avoiding the second 0-16 mark in NFL history. They're going down to the wire again, and they're starting to running out of chances.
Kizer was 18 of 31 for 268 yards without an interception. He could have had a 29-yard touchdown pass, but Corey Coleman dropped the ball in the end zone — typical of Cleveland's weekly self-destruction.
"Once we get over that hill, we'll win a lot of games," Kizer predicted.
Kizer's 3-yard run on a fourth-down keeper cut the Bengals' lead to 23-16 with 6:57 left. Mixon's touchdown run completed a 75-yard drive that finished off the Browns.
"We have to get to a point where we're handing the ball off and running the ball on folks," coach Marvin Lewis said.
Cincinnati's Randy Bullock and Cleveland's Zane Gonzalez each kicked three field goals. Andy Dalton finished 18 of 28 for 214 yards with a pair of touchdowns.
In Cleveland, they're already wondering whether Hue Jackson will be around for another season — he is 1-26 since leaving Cincinnati after a successful stint as offensive coordinator. Lewis also has uncertainty ahead as he finishes the final year on his contract after failing to make the playoffs last season.
The Bengals have won seven straight against their intrastate rival and 21 of the last 27. The Bengals have scored 23 or more points in each game during the winning streak, including 30 six times.
Adam "Pacman" Jones returned a punt 55 yards for an apparent touchdown that was negated by an illegal block. When he reached the end zone, Jones — who had a son born a few hours earlier — got on his back as though in labor . A teammate took the ball and held it aloft as though it was a newborn.
Browns safety Jabrill Peppers got a 15-yard penalty for a high hit on receiver Josh Malone along the sideline, extending the Bengals' clinching touchdown drive in the fourth quarter.
"I'd love to have that play back," Peppers said. "I'll just try to go lower next time. I got there quicker than I thought. It's definitely a learning experience."
LOUD LOCKER ROOM
Reporters sitting in an interview room outside the Browns locker room could hear yelling inside after the game. Jackson said it's not indicative of anything more than a moment's frustration.
"You heard the emotion and passion with this group," Jackson said.
CROSSING THE LINE
Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict drew a personal foul for hitting a defenseless receiver on Cleveland's opening drive. Browns wide receiver Bryce Treggs was flagged for taunting on Cleveland's next drive. There were a couple of skirmishes after plays as well.
Browns: Kizer missed one series in the second quarter while being evaluated for a concussion. Punter Britton Colquitt also was sidelined temporarily while being evaluated. Gonzalez punted once in his place, for only 16 yards.
Bengals: Linebacker Nick Vigil twisted his right ankle late in the first half, returned briefly in the second half and left the game.
Browns play at the Los Angeles Chargers. They beat the Chargers 20-17 in the second-to-last game for their only win last season.
Bengals lost to the Steelers in Pittsburgh 29-14 on Oct. 22, when Mixon was held to 48 yards rushing.