AFC North: 2012 Week 11 Wrap-ups

Wrap-up: Cowboys 23, Browns 20, OT

November, 18, 2012

Thoughts on the Cleveland Browns' 23-20 overtime loss at the Dallas Cowboys:

What it means: It's the same old story for the Browns, who continue to fail to finish off games. Cleveland couldn't hold a 13-0 halftime lead, or a 20-17 lead with 67 seconds remaining in regulation, extending its misery on the road. The Browns have now lost a franchise-record 12 straight games on the road, which is also the longest active streak in the NFL. The loss also drops the Browns to 2-8 and clinches their 12th non-winning season in 14 years since returning to the league.

Special teams lapse: The Cowboys' winning field goal was set up by a mistake by the Browns' punt team. Johnson Bademosi's missed tackle allowed Dwayne Harris to break a 20-yard return to the Cleveland 48-yard line. Six plays later, Dan Bailey hit a 38-yard field goal in overtime.

Secondary blowup: A Browns secondary that was playing without cornerback Joe Haden was exposed in the second half. Sheldon Brown was beaten by Dez Bryant on a 28-yard touchdown pass that gave the Cowboys their first lead (17-13) with 6:46 left in the game. A pass interference penalty on Buster Skrine, who replaced Haden, set up that score. Skrine was responsible for three of the seven penalties on the Cleveland defensive backfield. Brown's 35-yard pass interference penalty led to Dallas' game-tying field goal late in regulation. Skrine left the game late with a head injury.

Weeden delivers late in regulation: After throwing a poor pass that resulted in an incompletion on fourth-and-goal, Browns rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden bounced right back and hit tight end Ben Watson on a 17-yard touchdown pass on his very next throw. It put the Browns back ahead 20-17 with 1:07 left in the game, a lead that the Cleveland defense was unable to hold. Weeden struggled with his accuracy and finished 20-of-35 for 210 yards. He also had a fumble in the fourth quarter.

Mr. Perfect: Phil Dawson continues to have a Pro Bowl-type season. He converted from 51 and 47 yards to remain perfect on the season. Dawson has connected on his past 25 field goals.

End of red zone drought: The Browns jumped out to a 7-0 lead by ending a streak of five straight trips in the red zone without a first down. Watson pulled down a high pass from Weeden in the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown. It was set up by Chris Ogbonnaya's run that allowed the Browns to convert on third-and-1, a trouble spot all year.

Mixed results for defense: The Browns shut out the Cowboys for the game's first 40 minutes. Cleveland limited Dallas to 68 yards of total offense in the first half. It was the fewest first-half yards for the Cowboys since December 2007. After halftime, Tony Romo took advantage of the Browns' soft coverage, going 25-of-33 for 239 yards.

What's next: The Browns play host to the Steelers (6-3) on Sunday.

Wrap-up: Bengals 28, Chiefs 6

November, 18, 2012

My thoughts on the Cincinnati Bengals' 28-6 win at the Kansas City Chiefs:

What it means: The Bengals (5-5) continue their push toward the postseason with a decisive win over the one-win Chiefs. Cincinnati has won back-to-back games after losing four straight. The Bengals improved to 3-2 on the road.

Return of the running game: It took 11 weeks, but BenJarvus Green-Ellis picked up his first 100-yard rushing game for the Bengals. He ran for 101 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries (4.0-yard average). The Bengals ran for 189 yards against the NFL's 23rd-ranked run defense and controlled the clock for 35 minutes, 22 seconds.

Finishing on fourth down: The Bengals continue to have problems on third down, converting on 4 of 14 chances. But Cincinnati nearly had as many conversions on fourth down. The Bengals were 3-for-3 on fourth downs, including two that led to their first touchdown of the game. Cedric Peerman ran for 32 yards on a fake punt (a gutsy call for fourth-and-3 from the Bengals' 29-yard line), and Andy Dalton scrambled for 11 yards on fourth-and-7. That led to a 4-yard touchdown pass to A.J. Green.

Green streak: Speaking of Green, he caught a touchdown pass in his ninth straight game. That's the second-longest streak in Bengals history. (Carl Pickens had one in 10 consecutive games, but that was over two seasons, 1994-95.) Green becomes the first player with a receiving touchdown in nine straight games in the same season since Jerry Rice, who caught one in 12 straight games in 1987, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

Shut-down defense: The Bengals held a team out of the end zone for the first time since December 2008, when they didn't allow a touchdown to the Browns. Cincinnati limited the Chiefs to 284 total yards and stopped them on 10 of 11 third downs.

Dalton watch: Dalton didn't throw an interception for his second straight game after having one in his first eight. He threw for two touchdowns and ran for another. Dalton finished 18-of-29 for 230 yards.

What's next: The Bengals return home to play Carson Palmer and the Raiders, who are 1-4 on the road this season.