- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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What it means: It means the Bengals aren't the worst team in the NFL. The Bengals came in last twice in ESPN.com's Power Rankings, and I keep voting against it. Perhaps the Browns should be considered for the No. 32 spot. Cleveland lost at home to a rebuilding Bengals team playing its second-string quarterback (Bruce Gradkowski) for significant playing time. The Browns continued their longstanding trend of losing season openers. Cleveland is now 1-12 in Week 1 since returning to the NFL in 1999.
What I liked: The Bengals started fast and showed a lot of poise in the fourth quarter for a young team. Cincinnati jumped out to a 13-0 lead, gave up 14 unanswered points, then dominated the fourth quarter. Bengals running back Cedric Benson had a huge day, rushing for 121 yards and a touchdown.
What I didn't like: It's a new era in Cleveland, but the Browns looked similar to previous years with sloppy play. Cleveland committed 11 penalties for 72 yards. The Browns also started slow at home. That forced second-year quarterback Colt McCoy to throw way too many times (40), which wasn't Cleveland’s intention entering the game. Also, you never want to see a starting quarterback injured, particularly in his NFL debut. Bengals rookie quarterback Andy Dalton was knocked out of the game with an arm injury.
What’s next: The Browns will try to get their first win against the Manning-less Colts in Indianapolis next week. The Bengals, who are tied with the Baltimore Ravens atop the division, will play a road game against the Denver Broncos.