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For the second time in as many weeks, the Bengals lose a game they should have won, receiving consecutive losses against teams with a combined 1-8 when they played them. Yet it was a second half route against the Browns that killed Cincinnati on Sunday.
Two weeks ago following a 27-10 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, there was enough optimism to suggest that the Cincinnati Bengals were picking up momentum for a postseason run this year. Instead they've collapsed into an overflowing cesspool compounded by lackadaisical effort, poor execution and uninspired football that essentially collapses any reasonable forecast for a postseason berth, further capturing distributing trends extending from last week's loss to the Miami Dolphins.
Yet the Cincinnati Bengals made their runs. Along with a 55-yard reception by tight end Jermaine Gresham that gave Cincinnati a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, the Bengals were either tied or leading in the first half, taking a 14-7 half time lead. Though one could argue that poor clock management by the Bengals offense after allowing a handful of seconds to expire within a minute remaining in the first half, lead to a seriously botched call from the officials. Andy Dalton spiked the football with one second remaining on the clock inside the redzone, but the clock expired ending the first half.
Then Cleveland thus routed the Bengals in the second half, outscoring Cincinnati 27-10. It was another example of an increasing trend that can be summed up as: The Cincinnati Bengals offense isn't that good and the defense is asked to recover from the mistakes of others. An interception on Cincinnati's side of the field, a 60-yard punt return and by the end of the third quarter, Cleveland put together the game's first possession that could be defined as "sustained", taking a 20-14 lead with an exhausted defense losing their grip against Cleveland's high powered and All-Pro offense.
The route continued, in large part from Andy Dalton completing only two of seven passes for 18 yards passing, turning the football over four times with three picks and a lost fumble. Sheldon Brown's pick-six in the fourth quarter was Dalton's third of the season, giving the Browns a 34-17 lead.
Cincinnati will host the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday Night Football next weekend.