The Cleveland Browns had a meaningful game against the division leading Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday and responded very poorly. They started the game great going up 13-0, but quickly imploded into a cornucopia of bountiful gifts for the Cincinnati Bengals to feast upon. Interceptions, punt blocks, fumbles and offensive ineptitude took the place of pumpkins, grapes, apples and squash. I’m thinking of so many bad jokes about the Browns getting squashed that I’m not even going to bother. Given a chance to respond to opportunity, the Browns failed on this day.
The Cleveland Browns ended up giving up 31 points in the second quarter to go down 31-13 at the half. The Bengals also only had three first downs on offense in the first half. Sound unbelievable? It looked unbelievable. The Cleveland Browns absolutely imploded as they put their backs to a different end zone to start the second quarter. That’s what happens when your offense coughs up the ball twice via fumble and interception while your punt unit gives up a partial block that goes for eight yards and then a complete block which gives up a touchdown.
Of course Rob Chudzinski doubled down on the aggressiveness with just under a minute left, decided to try and drive the field to score. Jason Campbell checked down like crazy, the Browns punted and gave up a big return to Pacman Jones for 27 yards. Andy Dalton again showed basically nothing, but the aggressive attempt and nice return gave the Bengals field goal position. And with that, the Browns went to halftime down 31-13 and the Bengals only had three first downs. I know I’m repeating myself, but it’s absolutely astonishing.
Given that deficit the Browns weren’t able to do a whole lot in the second half. They had a nice long touchdown pass to Josh Gordon, but other than that were largely listless on offense. The weather wasn’t conducive to a comeback, but the offense didn’t look remotely capable if they’d been playing in a dome situation.
If I might offer a little bit of silver lining to this overall stinker, it is that I find it hard to draw any conclusions about the team based on the mistakes they made. Punt blocks are kind of flukey, really. For Jason Campbell to have a bad game rife with turnovers on top of it, made it worse. You knew that Jason Campbell probably wouldn’t play turnover free football the whole year. He’s provided much more than Brandon Weeden, but he wasn’t going to walk in with his track record and punch his ticket to Hawaii.
This team is still an average team with an above average defense that can’t overcome tremendous mistakes in any one phase. Certainly they’re not a team that can find a way to overcome a 31 point quarter hand-delivered to the opponent via blocked punts and turnovers.
So the Browns didn’t cut the divisional lead. They didn’t sweep the battle of Ohio. Jason Campbell proved that he’s not likely going to become a pro bowler for the Browns. Incidentally, Brian Hoyer likely would have had a game or two like this as well. I’m just playing the percentages here, of course.
Other than that, there’s no time to look at what could have been. It’s Steelers week.