Time: Sunday, September 16, 1:00 PM
Location: Cleveland Browns Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio
Network, Announcers: CBS- Bill Macatee (no golf this weekend, Bill?) and Steve Beuerlein
Line: Bengals by 7
Team W/L Records: Cincinnati is 1-0; Cleveland is 0-1
Coaches: Marvin Lewis is in his fourth season with the Bengals and has a 36-29 record; Romeo Crennel is now 10-23, including a 1-12 mark within the AFC North.
Last Week for the Browns: Were curb-stomped at “home” by the Steelers, 34-7.
Last Week for the Bengals: Forced six Baltimore turnovers and edged the Rats at Paul Brown Stadium, 27-20.
All-Time Series: Cincinnati leads 34-33, and has won five in a row in the series dating back to 2004. Like Pittsburgh’s now-eight game winning streak, Cincy’s current five-game skein is their longest ever over the Browns. If the AFC North were the SEC, the Browns would be Vanderbilt or Mississippi State, depending on which team sucked worse at the moment.
Last Meeting: November 26, 2006- Carson Palmer went 25-of-32 for 275 yards and two touchdowns and Cincinnati’s normally feeble defense looked downright ’85 Bears-esque in a 30-0 rout of the Browns in Cleveland. Josh Cribb’s 101-yard return of the opening kickoff was wiped out by a penalty, and everything pretty much went from there. This was the fiasco during which Braylon Edwards performed his enigmatic sideline tug on the jersey of Charlie Frye. It was also a week short of sixteen years after the previous shutout in Bengals history, a 21-0 calcimining of our dearly departed O.G. Browns on the same site.
Out or Questionable for Cincinnati: LB Rashad Jeanty (shin), S Ethan Kilmer (knee), and DE Frostee Rucker (hamstring) are out; C Eric Ghiaciuc (thumb) is doubtful; Chinedum Ndukwe (hamstring) is questionable
Out or Questionable for Cleveland: LB Willie McGinest is out (Keith Hernandez injury); CB Gary Baxter (knees) is doubtful; LB Antwan Peek (foot), CB Leigh Bodden (groin and glass-like constitution), P Dave Zastudil (back), and the Cleveland Browns (morale, quarterback), are questionable.
What to watch for the Bengals: the Cincinnati defense- like Private Pyle in Full Metal Jacket, the Bengals D came out born-again hard for their Monday Night opener against the Rats. The Bengals punished Baltimore’s offense, forcing six turnovers and knocking Steve McNair out of the game in the fourth quarter. The Ravens still ran the bell fairly well, averaging 4.3 yards per carry, but it was the constant pressure applied to McNair and Kyle Boller, and the turnovers that resulted, that proved crucial. It was the same way the Bengals won the division in 2005, and it’s almost custom-designed to wreak havoc on a Browns offense that hemorrhages the football from the quarterback spot.
What to watch for the Browns: Can Derek Anderson survive the entire game without being booed off the field? Will Romeo Crennel be compelled to defy Phil Savage’s quixotic plan to keep Brady Quinn on the sidelines until such indeterminate time when the rest of the offense is deemed properly “gelled”? When the offense “gels” to the point where it’s safe to put in the rookie quarterback and not “ruin” him, how will we know? Will we hear a ding?
By the way, Tim Couch’s rookie year in 1999 is no more relevant to the Brady Quinn experience than that of John Reaves with the ’72 Eagles, or Steve Pisarkiewicz with the ’77 Cardinals, or Chris Miller with the ’87 Falcons, or any of the umpteen other first-year, first-round quarterbacks who have played in the NFL. Phil, are you reading this?
Good Past Win over the Bengals: Week Sixteen, 1980- Don Cockroft’s field goal with a minute left broke a 24-all tie and gave the Kardiac Kids a thrilling, Central Division-clinching 27-24 win over the stubborn Bengals at Riverfront Stadium. Cleveland overcame five Eddie Edwards sacks of Brian Sipe and the heroics of Bengal QB Jack Thompson, the Throwin’ Samoan, to earn the victory. Thom Darden had one of the great hits in Browns history early in this game- a kill-shot on Cincinnati’s Pat McInally which caused McInally to swallow his tongue. After having his tongue extracted from his throat, McInally (one of the last of the combination position player/punters) came back into the game, and caught a long touchdown pass.
Bad Past Loss to the Bengals: Week Ten, 1970- It was Year One of the merger, and the 4-4 Browns made their first-ever trip to Riverfront Stadium with a chance to apply a knockout punch to Paul Browns’s youthful, 2-6 Bengals. But Cleveland was undone by the arm and legs of Bengal quarterback Virgil Carter, who ran for 110 yards, passed for 123, and accounted for Cincinnati’s first-ever score against a Browns defense- a 13-yard touchdown toss to Jess Phillips at the end of a corkscrewing scramble. The Bengals spotted Cleveland a 10-0 lead, then fought back to take a 14-10 win. The victory spurred a season-ending seven-game winning streak that landed Cincinnati a surprise AFC Central title. Cleveland continued to be mediocre, finishing 7-7. Carter, a former Bears castoff with intelligence, excellent mobility, and a mediocre arm, was running a variation of Paul Brown’s offense modified specifically for his skill-set by Bengals offensive coordinator Bill Walsh.
Next Week for Both Teams: Cincinnati is at Seattle; Cleveland is at Oakland.
Trivia: The Browns went a combined 0-4 against the Steelers and Bengals in 2006, the first time they’d taken a collar against both teams in the same season since 1977. Romeo Crennel is 0-9 for his career against Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, and is in imminent danger of becoming the first Browns coach to go the length of his career without beating either team at least once.