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Sunday, October 3, 2010
Wrap-up: Browns 23, Bengals 20

By James Walker

Here are some thoughts on the Cleveland Browns' 23-20 victory against the Cincinnati Bengals:


What it means: It was a much-needed first win of the season for the Browns (1-3). Things were getting antsy in Cleveland after playing tough but blowing three straight fourth-quarter leads. A win provides some confidence and optimism that the Browns at least have a chance to turn things around. For the Bengals (2-2), this ends their impressive streak of eight straight AFC North wins. Cincinnati couldn't dominate the division forever. But losing to a winless team is not a good sign for the defending AFC North champs, especially after not looking impressive overall in the first month of the season.

What I liked: The Browns are still playing hard, and it finally produced a winning result. Cleveland might not win a lot of games this season, but the Browns could be a spoiler some weeks, especially at home. Browns running back Peyton Hillis had his second straight 100-yard game and has provided Cleveland a go-to player on offense. For the Bengals, receiver Terrell Owens had a huge day in a losing effort, catching 10 passes for 222 yards. Quarterback Carson Palmer (371 yards) also had his best game of the season.

What I didn't like: Cincinnati doesn't play very smart or efficient, and it caught up with the Bengals against Cleveland. The Bengals fumbled twice and again had too many penalties (eight for 79 yards) to win in the division on the road. Despite some success Sunday, I'm also not exactly sure what Cincinnati's identity is on offense through four games. The Bengals have to decide if they want to be a run-first team or pass-first team, because week to week it appears Cincinnati is still trying to feel its way through without having a certain offensive mindset going in.

What's next: The Browns have another tough home game coming up against the Atlanta Falcons (3-1), who have won three straight games after losing their season opener to the Pittsburgh Steelers (3-1) in overtime. The Bengals had their two-game winning streak stopped and will try to get back on track next week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1), who are coming off a bye.