Bengals look for turnaround against Browns defense

Sixty minutes, 266 yards, 64 plays, zero touchdowns. Those

numbers stung the Bengals for a long time.

They went to Cleveland for the fourth game of the season and

failed to get into the end zone during a 17-6 loss that left them

embarrassed. An offense with so many options couldn’t even cross

the goal line one time.

So much went wrong. So much has changed.

The Bengals (6-4) went on one of the best offensive surges in

club history after that game, pulling away in the AFC North.

Lately, they’ve dropped two in a row in overtime on the road,

giving Cleveland (4-5) a chance to elbow its way back into the race

on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium.

There’s more to it, though. That first game on Sept. 29 is still

a sticking point.

”I don’t care what player you are in this league, you’ve been

humbled at some point,” left tackle Andrew Whitworth said on

Wednesday. ”And sometimes it takes a week that humbles you a

little bit to get the best out of you.

”So they caught us and it was a good day for them, and we get

another chance. Round two is coming up.”

The first time the Bengals faced their intrastate rival, they

had an overriding issue. With rookie tight end Tyler Eifert and

rookie running back Giovani Bernard blending into the passing game,

Cincinnati was still trying to figure how all the pieces fit on


The no-touchdown loss in Cleveland prompted offensive

coordinator Jay Gruden to dub the offense a jack of all trades and

master of none. Looking for that identity, the Bengals committed

themselves to running the ball the following week and beat New


Andy Dalton then went on the best three-game stretch of his

career, throwing 11 touchdown passes in wins over Buffalo, Detroit

and the Jets. The offense had come together.

In the last two weeks, it’s reverted to a pass-dominated

approach that’s come up just short.

Dalton threw 53 and 51 passes in overtime losses at Miami and

Baltimore. He was sacked 10 times in the two games and threw three

interceptions in each game. The Bengals managed only three points

in the first half at Miami and were shut out in the first half at

Baltimore, forcing them to throw in order to pull off second-half


”Part of the reason we’re down is because of the turnovers,”

Gruden said. ”We’re putting ourselves into a hole with the

turnovers. We’re putting ourselves in little holes and then they

turn into big holes because we’re pressing.”

A lot of it is on Dalton, whose interceptions have been too much

to overcome. It’s the first time in his career that he’s thrown six

interceptions in two games.

”I’ve got to do a better job of not turning the ball over, and

that’s what it comes down to,” Dalton said. ”You’ve got to

understand when you can take your chances and when you can’t.

That’s something I’ve got to do a better job of.”

The Browns put cornerback Joe Haden on A.J. Green, and Dalton

tried to take advantage of the one-on-one coverage. Fifteen of his

42 passes went toward Green, who managed to come down only seven of

them for 51 yards.

Green got frustrated and showed it in his body language.

Afterward, he called it a mistake and has gone back to keeping his

emotions in check. He’ll get a second chance to get the best of

Haden, who gave him few openings in Cleveland.

”It wasn’t my best game,” Green said on Wednesday. ”A lot of

out-of-character stuff. I can’t get frustrated like that


Notes: TE Jermaine Gresham, who sat out the loss at Baltimore

with a groin injury, practiced fully on Wednesday, an indication

he’ll be available for the Cleveland game. … LB Vontaze Burfict

(knee), S Chris Crocker (hamstring), C Kyle Cook (shoulder), LB Rey

Maualuga (knee), DT Devon Still (elbow), DT Brandon Thompson

(ankle) and guard Kevin Zeitler (foot) were held out of practice.

LB Mike Boley (hamstring) and CB Terence Newman (ankle) were


AP NFL website: