Holding a 23-13 lead at the start of the fourth quarter, Carson Palmer was feeling it in the no huddle offense, pretty much shredding the Browns' defensive backs most of the game. With plenty of time left in the fourth quarter at the 10:33 mark, Palmer ran a shuffle pass to running back Brian Leonard, bringing the Bengals to within three. That was the beginning of what seemed to be the downhill trend we've become so accustomed to.
On the Browns' next offensive series, they went three-and-out. The Bengals then proceeded to drive down the field with ease. They had gone from their own 14-yard line to the Browns' 31-yard line in just a couple of minutes. With 5:20 left in the game on 3rd-and-3, the Browns finally came up with a third-down stop, but faced a tough decision. Chad Ochocinco was called for offensive pass interference, and the Browns had to decide whether to accept or decline the penalty.
In terms of game strategy, it was as easy of a call as it gets: accept the penalty to take them out of field goal range. With that said, seeing how our cornerbacks had been torched by Terrell Owens all game long, who didn't fear an easy first-down conversion? The Browns accepted the penalty, and the defense came up big as Matt Roth delivered a sack, further taking the Bengals out of field goal range.
With 4:41 left on the clock, the Browns' offense had a chance to ice the game. Unfortunately, on first down they came out passing and Wallace's throw was incomplete. On second down, the Browns ran the ball with Peyton Hillis and a Bengals defensive lineman was called for holding. It was a tacky call in my book, but it ended up being the difference maker. With a fresh set of downs, Brian Daboll finally had some sense knocked into him: run the ball with Hillis.
What did we see the rest of the drive?
- 1st-and-10 (4:31): Hillis for 4 yards
- 2nd-and-6 (3:47): Hillis for 5 yards
- 3rd-and-1 (3:07): Hillis for 1 yard
- 1st-and-10 (2:49): Hillis for 3 yards
- 2nd-and-7 (2:46): Hillis for a game-long 24 yards, and the ballgame
The Bengals were out of timeouts, so a couple of kneel-downs later, the Browns won the game, improving to 1-1 in the division. The Bengals beat the Ravens, the Ravens beat the Steelers, the Browns beat the Bengals, and the Ravens beat the Browns. The division race should be interesting in the AFC North.
While the secondary was torched, props go to Kenyon Coleman, Matt Roth, and Scott Fujita for their efforts today. I'll have my full review up in a day or two, but for now I think we should all milk this win as much as we can.