Prelude to a Nightmare
Following the first few weeks after Cleveland’s week one loss to the Bengals, I considered the game a fluke. The Bengals needed a quick-snap touchdown pass from Andy Dalton to A.J. Green with less than five minutes to go in the fourth quarter to take their first lead of the game. From there, it was if the Browns players were thinking “Here we go again.”, and were demoralized for the last few minutes of a 27-17 loss to open the season.
Since then, however, I’ve come to realize that the Browns are still the Browns, while the Bengals seem to be the only Ohio team that’s worth a damn.
Prior to the start of the season there was that all too familiar feel of optimism among Browns fans. Everyone knows the feeling I’m talking about. During the off-season, you watch as your “competent” front office works vigorously to improve the team through free agency and the draft. Even the players seem to be a little more optimistic, leading the fans to believe that this could be the year that their team finally turns the corner.
It was supposed to be the Bengals that were heading for a run at the “Andrew Luck Sweepstakes”, and it was supposed to be the Browns that were going to rebound from a dismal 2010 season to have a respectable, at least, 2011 season. After all, the Bengals had to replace Carson Palmer and Chad Ochocinco with rookies, and no one really believed that Cedric Benson could be the workhorse Cincinnati was looking for.
What everyone forgot, though, was that there’s still a defense involved, and for the Bengals, it just so happened to be a damn good one. Throw in the fact that, if not for Cam Newton, Andy Dalton would likely be the frontrunner for the NFL Rookie of the Year Award. Cincinnati’s D has kept them in most of their games, and Dalton has only had to do just enough not to lose the game.
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