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Third down loss defined Thursday's loss

We hate using one play, out of 70-plus, to simply and encompass an entire game but this is close. The Cleveland Browns controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides, and they dominated on this third down play.

John Grieshop

This one bugged me from last night.

The situation is third down from the Bengals 38-yard line with 8:20 remaining in the first quarter. Down by seven points, we were led to believe that Cincinnati was still competitively involved in this game -- in reality, Cleveland's offense could have taken the rest of the night off and never scored again and STILL won.

Anyway, it's third and two.

The Bengals have single-back formation, strong-side to the right. The Cleveland Browns have eight in the box with a ninth cheating in.

Bengals Browns third down

Why not split Mohamed and Greg Little out even more... clear out some of that garbage on the line of scrimmage. If Cleveland's defense doesn't buy it, check out to a quick pattern. What about Ryan Hewitt or Domata Peko lead-blocking. No one in the stadium believed that Dalton was going to throw it... or at least throw it well. And even if they did, was there really a threat of a big-play? I suppose the game was early enough to optimistically buy into a threat... but no.

"We knew exactly what they wanted to do, how they wanted to do it, when they wanted to do it," said linebacker Karlos Dansby after the game. "We're calling out screens. We're calling out run plays. We're calling out everything right there on the field."

Let's be predictable!

Dalton takes the snap under center and hands off to Jeremy Hill.

The failure of the play can be attributed to Jabaal Sheard and Phil Taylor. Sheard disregarded Jermaine Gresham with a nasty swim while Marshall Newhouse whiffed like a monstrous Adam Dunn swing. This forced Hill to cut upfield. Taylor's first step penetrated the gap that Kevin Zeitler was responsible for. Taylor massively overpowered Zeitler and played through his block.

At this stage, Sheard and Taylor have penetrated well before Hill even has the football.

Bengals Browns third down


Bengals third and two

And look at the line of scrimmage. Dansby, Ahtyba Rubin, Billy Winn and Donte Whitner were holding their responsibilities... completely free to do whatever they wanted. Newhouse is hurling away. Russell Bodine is... blocking? Even if Hill breaks away from Sheard and Taylor, he's not escaping the rest of Cleveland's defense.

Two yard loss. Personal foul on Greg Little. And punt.