Frank Minnifield said the Cincinnati Bengals will learn that talk is cheap.
The Cleveland cornerback, spurred by a pre-game insult, blocked a punt that Herman Fontenot turned into a touchdown and helped the Browns shut down Cincinnati, 23-16, Sunday.
“I’m just glad they gave me something to get me fired up for the game,” Minnifield said. “There was no way I was not going to play a great game.”
Minnifield was angered by Cincinnati defensive back Lewis Billups, who recently declared the Bengals’ secondary as the best in the AFC Central Division. When asked about Minnifield, Billups responded, “Minny-who?”
“When you’re first getting into the (NFL), you really don’t know how long the arm of the media is,” Minnifield said. “I talked to him after the game. He’s a nice guy.”
The Browns kept Boomer Esiason and the NFL’s highest-scoring offense out of the end zone. Cincinnati’s only touchdown came on David Fulcher’s 16-yard interception return.
The Browns (6-3) won their 3rd straight game and moved to within a game of the Bengals (7-2) in the AFC Central race as Cincinnati lost for the 2nd time in 3 weeks.
“We can claim we broke down (on special teams) or we can claim they beat us,” Cincinnati Coach Sam Wyche said. “This is the best defense we’ve faced, the way they played today. But we’re still 7-2 and ahead of Cleveland.”
Cleveland led, 13-10, in the 3rd quarter when Minnifield deflected Scott Fulhage’s punt at the Bengals’ 10-yard line. Fontenot scooped it up at the 1 and rolled into the end zone to make it 20-10.
Bernie Kosar of Cleveland, playing his 2nd game since missing 6 weeks with an elbow injury, completed 18 of 28 passes for 210 yards, with 2 interceptions.
Esiason was 12 of 25 for 173 yards without a touchdown or an interception. It was the 2nd time this season Esiason was held under a 50% completion rate. The Browns limited him to 8 of 23 in Cincinnati’s 24-17 victory last month.