Cincinnati Bengals Showing That Only the Strong Survive

Doug TifftContributor INovember 29, 2009

CINCINNATI - NOVEMBER 29:  Larry Johnson #27 of the Cincinnati Bengals runs with the ball during the NFL game against the Cleveland Browns at Paul Brown Stadium on November 29, 2009 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

One week after a letdown of bumbling proportions in a loss to the Oakland Raiders, the Cincinnati Bengals dominated the Cleveland Browns 16-7 on Nov. 29 in a Darwinian expression of strength.

The stronger Bengals overpowered Cleveland in almost every aspect of the game, resulting in a nine-point win that was never in much danger.

The Cincinnati offense dominated the line of scrimmage against the Browns by frequently using six offensive linemen.

When the Browns responded to seeing 6’9”, 325 lb. Dennis Roland at tight end by bringing eight men into the box, Cincinnati offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski countered by having Roland kick out the backside defensive end on a stretch play—consistently Cincinnati’s most effective offensive play throughout the afternoon.

Even other Cleveland run-stopping tactics, like corner and safety blitzes, were negated by poor tackling, allowing Larry Johnson and Bernard Scott to get into the secondary.

With the overloads, stretch plays, and missed tackles, Cincinnati was able to rack up 210 yards on the ground, adding to what was the eighth-best rushing offense in the NFL heading into the weekend.

The Bengal defense also exhibited supremacy over the Browns. Except, instead of a physical superiority, their advantage manifested itself much more in the mental deficiencies of Cleveland’s Brady Quinn.

Quinn epitomized a quarterback with happy feet in the pocket, launching inaccurate, hurried, and misguided passes whenever Cincinnati defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer would send an extra pass rusher.

Even when Zimmer abstained from a blitz, a show of six men at the line of scrimmage before the snap was often enough to force Quinn to a check-down into a conservative screen or run play—situations the Bengal defense handled easily against a Cleveland playmaking corps that left something to be desired.

As the Bengals continue to navigate through the plum portion of the schedule—a home game against Detroit next Sunday represents the third straight game with a cellar dweller—from their perch atop the AFC North, they can be comforted by their show of supremacy on Sunday.

It is a theme that will lead them into the playoffs, where as any Darwinian will tell you, only the strong survive.