Other NFL Surprises Overshadow Cleveland's Mistakes

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 11: Defensive end Frostee Rucker #92 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates with Michael Johnson #93 and Geno Atkins #97 after a touchdown against the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium on September 11, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

Locally, we are still hurting from what we witnessed Sunday at Cleveland Browns Stadium. I thought that the circumstances of the game and the comedy of errors that unfolded on Cleveland's side would dominate headlines, but it didn't.

I didn't see much talk of the Browns on Sports Illustrated, ESPN, Yahoo, or NFL.com. Even when Sunday Night Football recapped every game last night, the Bengals vs. Browns game was the first one shown and seemed to have less time dedicated to it than all the other games. That's because there were plenty of other surprises that happened in the NFL, all of which are far more interesting from a national perspective.

  • The Pittsburgh Steelers turned the ball over seven times and were blown out by the Baltimore Ravens. I take no joy in the Ravens winning, but I stepped back for a second and got a kick out of the Ravens running up the score with a fake extra point, and a Ravens' defender absolutely annihilating wide receiver Hines Ward on a block.
  • What in the world happened to the Kansas City Chiefs and the Atlanta Falcons? Two teams who were contenders last season did not show up and were dominated from start to finish. The Chiefs falling off is a little understandable, but Atlanta? At least that improves one of Cleveland's first-round draft selections next year.
  • People thought the Indianapolis Colts would be bad, but not as abysmal as getting off to a 34-0 halftime deficit. The whole "Peyton Manning-less" Colts story gives Cleveland a good opportunity to rebound next Sunday on what otherwise would've been a difficult game to win.
  • The Dallas Cowboys and the New York Jets already featured the Ryan rivalry, but it treated general football fans to one of the best back-and-forth games of the week. The Cowboys blew a big lead lead, and the Jets found a way to win after some intense moments.
  • You had the surprise quarterback performances around the league. Cameron Newton threw for over 400 yards and made the Panthers offense look electric at times with Steve Smith. In Washington, my personal predictions came true that Rex Grossman would be way better than people were giving him credit for. To an extent, I think that Donovan McNabb throwing for just 39 yards the entire game made more headlines than our game.
  • The three big injuries on offense to Pat Shurmur's former team, the St. Louis Rams, seemed to be a pretty big story too. This was a team that could contend for a division title, and even though Sam Bradford may be fine, he lost his biggest two weapons.

I'll get to more of this in my game review, but the bottom line is there are no excuses for the way the Browns played. I'm never a firm believer of a team being judged completely on one game. If the Browns continue making the bizarre errors they made on Sunday, I'll be worried. If they correct some of those errors, I don't see them as being a pushover by any means.

Cleveland blew an opportunity to take advantage of a vulnerable Bengals team, but many fans at the beginning of training camp projected this team to be 1-1 heading into Week 3. That was with the assumption that Peyton Manning would play in Week 2. It might not be the way we anticipated going 1-1, but a win over what appears to be a depleted and demoralized Colts team would bring the Browns back to even. It's still worse that we're down in the division column, but it'd be a nice way to quickly get back on track.

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