I think both defenses can agree to be embarrassed by everything that happened at Paul Brown Stadium, in what was an undeniable slap to the chops for the AFC North’s reputation for parsimony on that side of the ball. Fortunately our young ginger quarterback made more plays than their not-quite-so-young-but-a-rookie-anyway ginger quarterback (though only just) and the Bengals were able to record their first win of the season.
What with the hair of the signal-callers, the uniforms of both Ohio teams and the unlimited mimosas at brunch, it was something of an orange-themed day, as far as I was concerned. I’d love to give you a sense of the atmosphere at the game but as – mid-way through the first quarter – my trusty correspondent texted me “vinos is lifes put right now” (arguably the greatest, if utterly indecipherable message ever) it was clear that my bar of choice wasn’t the only place where the alcohol was flowing freely. Indeed, the party atmosphere permeated everything throughout the first three quarters. Andy Dalton flung touchdowns to A.J. Green, Brandon Tate and , most spectacularly, Andrew “Baby” Hawkins, Domata Peko threw someone’s cleat away a la Dwayne Wade and it all seemed rather jolly. Even if the Browns had the good fortune to be visiting PBS on the defense’s annual sponsored “No tackling running backs for cancer research” drive, and our secondary’s only real contribution to the game was PacMan Jones’ electrifying punt-return TD, well, we were still winning.
There’s a great moment in the movie Gladiator (who am I kidding? There are about a trillion great moments in Gladiator) when the emperor, played by Joaquin Phoenix, stares down the rebellious gladiator, played by Russell Crowe, and hisses “What am I going to do with you? You just won’t die!” That’s kind of how I always feel playing the Browns. Even when we slap down a healthy 34 points on a team whose QB had a career passer rating of 4.7 and who previously averaged four interceptions per game, somehow they’re still onside kicking it with 20 seconds to go looking for a last second equalizing touch down. Fortunately the Bengals recovered the kick to hold on for the victory but for a while the Browns threatened to make things more awkward than those commercials where Aaron Rogers tries to be funny.
Of course, the important thing is the win. We held on, got the job done, and all those other platitudes but, amongst the smiles, the pats on the back and the high fives was a palpably uncomfortable truth – Brandon Wheedon shredded our defense. A 29 near old rookie making his first road start in the NFL and who was so devastatingly bad in his previous start that the highlight was when he got trapped under an enormous flag (and whose statistics would have been markedly improved had he never emerged).
Over three consecutive games this year we play a opposing QBs with five combined Super Bowls. Not to mention that later we play Tony Romo and Michael Vick who, if you watch ESPN, are not only the two most important NFL players of the past thirty years, but arguably the most historically significant Americans of all time.
Of course Jason Allen and Dre Kirkpatrick will be back from injuries to help out the secondary, Carlos Dunlap to (please please please) put some pressure of the opposing quarter back but still, Mike Zimmer’s unit need to put in some serious adjustments heading into next week.
However, perhaps the most important thing was to put the ghosts of the Ravens game to rest. The passing game got going and despite the scares the big orange party was able to carry on past the final whistle. Browns 27 Bengals 34.
Man Of The Match: Andy Dalton.