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4 winners and 8 losers in Bengals’ Week 1 loss to the Browns

The Bengals have another brutal Week 1 opener and another debacle in Cleveland.

Syndication: The Enquirer Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Cincinnati Bengals just wrapped up their opening game of the 2023 season on the road against the Cleveland Browns, a team that has beaten the Bengals in five of their last six meetings.

Now we can officially say the Browns have won six of their last seven meetings with the Bengals, as they defeated Cincinnati badly by a score of 24-3. The Bengals were only able to muster one field goal through the entire game as they were outplayed thoroughly.

Here are some winners and lots of losers in the team’s Week 1 loss against the Browns.


Fans of punters

For just the second time since the 1991 season, the Bengals punted the ball seven times in one half of football, per Jay Morrison. The offense, unable to move the ball at all, had to turn it over to rookie punter Brad Robbins over and over again, hoping he could bail them out of trouble.

In the end, Robbins finished the game with 10 punts.

Cam Taylor-Britt

The Bengals' second-year cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt was shown more than once breaking up passes from Watson to either Amari Cooper or Elijah Moore. The Bengals need CTB to take a leap in his sophomore season, playing opposite Chidobe Awuzie, who may not be completely 100 percent healthy at this point in the season.

Dax Hill

Hill had big shoes to fill heading into the 2023 season, as he had to replace Jessie Bates III, who left in free agency for the Atlanta Falcons. Bates had a big day today, intercepting two passes on Sunday. Hill didn’t have a terrible day himself, though. In the Browns' second drive of the third quarter, Deshaun Watson threw a pass that landed right in Hill’s arms, giving him the first interception of his career.

Trey Hendrickson

Hendrickson finished the game with a single sack, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. He was in the backfield a lot, and he forced Watson to throw more than one hurried pass that didn’t find its mark. If he plays like that all season long, the Bengals defense is going to be tough.


Bengals fans

In an offseason in which there was so much excitement and sky-high expectations, the Bengals showed up in Week 1 and looked completely flat on the field. The Browns outplayed them in almost every facet of the game.

The Browns didn’t necessarily light the world on fire either, and they made their share of mistakes too, but the Bengals looked bad on offense and defense. They couldn’t move the ball consistently on the ground or through the air, and they weren’t able to keep the Browns out of field-goal range or out of the end zone when it mattered. This doesn’t mean the Bengals are in trouble, though. After all, they lost the first two games of the season last year too, and they still won the division and made it to the AFC Championship game.

Still...... this was hard to watch.

Now we have to listen to Cleveland fans talk about how the Browns are better than the Bengals all season long. The team’s next chance to shut them up won’t be until Week 18.

Fans of high-powered offenses in the first half

Both teams struggled to move the ball until the very end of the first half when the Browns became the first team to punch into the end zone on a designed quarterback run from Watson to take a 10-0 lead. Other than a Browns field goal, up until that point, neither the Bengals nor the Browns were able to move the ball with any consistency.

In the first half, Brad Robbins had seven punts. In the first half, Joe Burrow had six complete passes.

That says more than anything else I could type here could say.

Joe Burrow

Burrow, who missed the entire preseason for the second year in a row, this year with a calf strain, couldn’t move the ball consistently down the field all game long. If he wasn’t trying to avoid the Browns pass rush, he was struggling to connect with his receivers. He finished the game with 14 completions on 31 attempts for 82 yards and no touchdowns or interceptions. Even when Burrow was scrambling, he just dumped the ball off to his underneath receiver instead of looking down the field. He just didn’t look like his normal self.

He was pulled in the fourth quarter in favor of Jake Browning.

Tee Higgins

This isn’t really Higgins’ fault, but Higgins didn’t catch a single pass the entire game against the Browns. He was targeted eight times, including a couple of deep shots where Higgins was being covered one-on-one, but Burrow and Higgins weren’t able to connect.

The Bengals' high-powered offense doesn’t work if the big three receivers aren’t able to be involved in the offense.

And after not getting a new contract, this was a terrible way for Higgins to kick off a contract year.

Run Defense

We all knew the Bengals defense would have a tough time with Browns running back Nick Chubb on Sunday, and while they were able to stop him at times, they faltered it really mattered. When the Browns were leading late in the game, and they were giving Chubb the ball to kill the clock, the Bengals defense couldn’t make any plays. Chubb finished the game with over 100 yards rushing and averaged close to six yards per carry.

Zac Taylor/Brian Callahan

Granted, it looked like no one was saving the Bengals offense today, but that was still a brutal showing that included some very questionable decisions, most notably punting deep in Browns territory in the first half on 4th and 3 for a net of 18 yards.

Bengals’ third-down offense

Two first downs on 15 third-down attempts for the Bengals on Sunday.

That’s spectacularly bad.

Back to the drawing board.