By CRISTIAN NÚÑEZ
Sunday Nov. 17, the Cincinnati Bengals had the chance to renew their strangle hold on the AFC North, while the Cleveland Browns for the first time in years had a chance to compete for first place and put themselves in post season contention in this part of the season.
Cincinnati’s loss to Baltimore in the preceding week assured Bengals’ fans of Andy Dalton’s hot and cold performance on the field, and gave Cleveland the chance to play a very important game in November—an opportunity not often experienced by the franchise in recent years. Then again Cleveland’s Jason Campbell is no shining star, and the franchise has had their fair share of inconsistencies as well. The stage for the Battle of the Ohio was set, both teams desperately needing the win, but had to deal with some good old nasty football weather.
Cleveland, after a field goal and two picks off of Cincinnati’s QB Andy Dalton, put Cleveland up 13-0 in the first quarter. The Browns were only able to capitalize on the first turnover with a field goal; however, the second pick Dalton threw allowed Cleveland corner Joe Haden to take it home. Cleveland established a decent presence from the start both offensively and defensively. That would soon change drastically.
Like the rain that briefly poured on Paul Brown stadium, the Bengals would swiftly pour points on Cleveland. A Cleveland special teams break down and offensive turnover contributed to Cincinnati’s overwhelming response of 31 points in the second quarter-a franchise record of points scored in a single quarter. The momentum shift proved too violent and swift for Cleveland to respond.
Despite a dazzling 75—yard touchdown connection between Campbell and Cleveland’s Josh Gordon in the second half, Cleveland simply could not produce. Cincinnati’s secondary may to be to blame. The defensive line did well containing the run, however, Cleveland’s star tight end Jordan Cameron was made a nonfactor by Cincy’s secondary, and Campbell was forced to throw well short of the first down on many a third and long.
In the end, Cleveland succumbed to Cincinnati 20-41. Cincinnati, going to their bye-week, has a chance to solidify their lead over the AFC North. Cleveland, missing its chance to really establish itself as a contender in the AFC North, still has a chance to stay in the hunt, hosting two winnable games at home in the weeks to come.