Back to the basics. That was the Cincinnati Bengals' game-plan, good old-fashioned power football. Hand the ball to your power runningback and let him run wild. This is provided that your offensive line can open running paths, and consistently man-handle the opposing defense.
Someone should have informed Bengals runningback Cedric Benson that this meeting between the Browns and Bengals was expected to feature a runningback that was going to "run wild" on his opponent, however it wasn't supposed to be him.
Benson, with what at times seemed to be little resistance, bullied his way for 150 yards and one touchdown, aided by an offensive line that man-handled the Browns defensive line the entire game. This failure to stop, or at least slow down Benson would leave defense coordinator Rob Ryan standing on the sideline shaking his head, and at one point caused Browns Coach Eric Mangini to intervene and signal in play-calls.
Carson Palmer, quarterback for the Bengals, would pass for 209 yards on 14 completions adding to the total yardage against the Browns, a total of 397 yards. The inability of the Browns to stop the Bengals, allowed a time of possession in favor of the Bengals: Bengals 38:03 to Browns 21:57.
No one enjoyed this defensive failure by the Browns more than the Bengals punter, who did not have to punt until the last five minutes of the game. The failure by the Browns defense to contain Benson, who had only ran for 100 yards in a game twice this season, was a major factor in this loss.
Now, on to the Browns offense!
Peyton Hillis, the runningback that was suppose to run wild, was held to 59 yards on 14 carries. The Bengals, knowing that Hillis is supposedly the main factor in the Browns offense, had a defensive game-plan with one major objective—stop Hillis—and they did. The 14 attempts by Hillis where the only attempts by a Browns runningback.
Talk about being predictable, where was Mike Bell or anyone to possibly rest Hillis or force Cincinnati to make an adjustment? Yes, I am aware that Hillis has been the only productive running-back this season, however when something is not working—you must try something else.
One more item before we move on--Rob Ryan was not the only coach that Mangini overruled during this contest. Brad Seely, special teams coordinator was overruled also, with Mangini calling for an onside kick near the end of the game. Although this did not work in favor of Cleveland, I do agree with the call.
Yes, when there seems to be nothing but dark skies above, if you look hard enough you just might see a small ray of sunshine trying to break through---enter, Colt McCoy.
Colt McCoy, rookie quarterback of the Browns, started his sixth game of the season, coming off a one month absence due to an ankle injury. Once again McCoy showed a poise, determination, and a passing accuracy unexpected from a rookie with such little NFL experience. All the chatter of recent weeks about the Browns having a one dimensional offense can be put to rest.
Colt McCoy completes 19 passes for 243 yards, two touchdowns and a passer rating of 132.6.
In the first quarter, McCoy would target Robert Royal for a 20 yard pass, resulting in Cleveland's first touchdown. After a dismal second and third quarter, McCoy would throw a strike to Brian Robiskie, a 46-yard pass that would result in a touchdown with 2:13 to play. After failing to cover an onside kick, the Browns offense would sit on the sidelines and watch the Bengals gain a much needed first down, and proceed to run out the clock.
In the few games that McCoy has played for the Browns, he has shown a poise, determination and superb accuracy on his throws. He has proven to be an intelligent quarterback with a desire to protect the ball. He has thrown some questionable passes, made a few bad reads and taken a few sacks where he should have just thrown the ball away—this can be expected from a rookie.
With proper coaching and more experience, McCoy may be the quarterback that the Browns have so desperately been seeking. His performance thus far has given Browns fans something to cheer about, and added spark to a rather lackluster offense.
A glimmer of light may be breaking through the dark clouds that have hung over the Cleveland Browns for the last few years.
Aside from that—the kid is fun to watch!