Bengals rookie receiver A.J. Green got his first touchdown today to give the Bengals a 20-17 lead. It couldn’t have been a more embarrassing play for the Browns. The Browns’ defense was still getting set and ready to line up with Joe Haden inside near the hashes as Green was lined up outside. Bruce Gradkowski – in for injured rookie Andy Dalton – had the easiest touchdown connection of his career as Joe Haden looked stunned and sad after such a solid game full of break ups and blanketing defense went for nothing.
Gone was the streak of 17 unanswered Browns points. Gone was the miniscule four-point lead that the Browns seemed to sit on for much of the second half. The Browns never were able to get that score to put them up by more than a touchdown and the Bengals made them pay for it with about four minutes to go in the fourth quarter. The Bengals would later add the final nail in the coffin, a long running touchdown by Cedric Benson.
The faces in Cleveland change, but the acts in this scripted play seem to stay largely the same for a bruised and battered Cleveland fan base that came into the game believing in this team.
The Browns would punt the ball to the Bengals after an ensuing three and out, but it was yet another horrible punt by Richmond McGee. McGee had an average of 36 yards per punt for the game. Not good and there were some real stinkers that set up each of the Bengals’ scoring chances.
The Browns would get the ball back with three minutes left as the rain poured down in Cleveland Browns Stadium, but the Browns would turn it over on downs as Colt McCoy desperately (and illegally) attempted to throw the ball to Alex Mack.
The Browns just weren’t ready on Sunday. They weren’t ready as they committed seven penalties for 48 yards in the first quarter. They weren’t ready to capitalize and put the Bengals away after the momentum they built in the second quarter and in scoring 17 unanswered points. The Browns certainly weren’t ready as the defense got embarrassed by a Bruce Gradkowski quick snap that led to the Bengals’ go-ahead score.
It isn’t a time for excuses. Nobody cares how long training camp was anymore. It isn’t a time to hang their heads either. The Browns have a chance to play Indianapolis next Sunday, who got crushed 34-7 by the Houston Texans. The Browns responded to adversity in the game, now they need to respond to it between games. Despite the one completely unacceptable play, the Browns’ defense did have some film to hang their hats on. The NFL season is long, but it seems a whole lot longer when the team lays an absolute egg in the opening contest.
Pat Shurmur’s reign as head football coach is off to a rocky start. How rocky will be decided next week in Indianapolis where the Super Bowl is scheduled to be played later this year. It might as well be the Super Bowl for this Browns team that had such high hopes with such an “easy” schedule to start the year.
Also see, Bengals vs. Browns – First Half Report