Marvin Lewis came into the postgame media press conference on crutches, continuing to recover from recent surgery. You’d have to think that the pain he may have felt walking was the last thing on his mind Sunday after watching his swiss-cheese like defense get buried by the Browns in a 51-45 loss to Cleveland. If the Bengals think they are going to win the AFC North in 2007, they had better find 11 guys to play defense. Sunday’s performance was legendary, and for all the wrong reasons. The Browns scored just 7 points last week in a 34-7 loss to the Steelers, but on this Sunday put on an offensive showcase much like an old AFL team.
Cleveland put up 554 yards of offense, 226 rushing, 328 passing. They had 23 first downs, were 7-of-13 on third downs, and averaged 8.8 yards per play. The bottom line – the Bengals defense failed to show up. Maybe looking ahead to a showdown with the Seahawks next week in Seattle, or resting on their 27-20 win last week over the Ravens, Cincy started believing their own hype. It’s what did them in Sunday afternoon in Cleveland. “I don’t think anybody expected this game to shake out like this,” Bengals QB Carson Palmer said. “If anything, it’s a good reminder for us that it doesn’t matter who you play. This is one of the tougher losses. I thought we had this win. I feel like I’m mourning over a loss. I’m just going to try and shake it off.”
Palmer should be mad at his defense, as they wasted one of Palmer’s best days ever. He broke a Bengals team record with 6 touchdown passes, and went 33-for-50 for 401 yards and two interceptions as well. His counterpart, Browns starter Derek Anderson, went 20-for-33 for 32 yards and five TD’s and one interception. As the two teams kept trading scores, it became evident that the Browns defense was going to be able to make that one stop at the end. While the Bengals D was all about giving up big play after big play.
Just ask Jamal Lewis, who ran for a whopping 215 yards on 28 carries, a 7.7 average. He pulled off a 66-yard run for a score, and when the Browns needed a big run, Lewis was pretty much there in the second half to give it to him. “What can you say,” asked defensive end Justin Smith. “It was mental errors. It was ridiculous. On this level you can’t just let guys run free down the field. That’s what it was. You have to be in the right place and today showed why. Guys are too big, too strong and too fast.”
The Bengals think they have a beat on winning the AFC North. Sunday after this debacle, they had better do something to straighten out their defense, or they are going go give their head coach acid reflex to go along with his already bad wheel.