The Bengals played it close to the vest all day because they could. Carson Palmer(notes) attempted only 24 passes, and the idea was clearly to let the Browns beat themselves. Of course, any team "coached" by Eric Mangini will do its best to cooperate. Up 10-0 already at the end of the first half, the Bengals were gifted with an extra play when Browns tackle Shaun Rogers(notes) brought Palmer down at the 50-yard line by the back of his jersey with no time left on the clock. The horse-collar call put the ball at the Cleveland 35, allowed Shayne Graham(notes) to boot a 53-yard field goal. It was the second time in two games that the Browns ended a half with a defensive penalty that gave the opposing team an extra play and a chance to score -- you may remember the pass interference call against Hank Poteat(notes) that allowed Matt Stafford to hit Brandon Pettigrew(notes) for the game-winner against the Lions. The Browns had sacked Palmer on two straight plays before today's penalty on Rogers, but it seems to be a rule -- for every positive step, a landslide must fall.
It's been a bad weekend for the Cleveland faithful -- first, the announcement that noted pariah Art Modell made the semi-finalist list for the Hall of Fame, then the realization that as bad as having Modell move the old Browns to Baltimore felt, what Mangini is doing to the new Browns may be even worse. As for the Bengals, they get to go home, settle in their respective Barca-Loungers, and watch the Steelers and Ravens beat each other up tonight for second place in the AFC North.
- the Browns