BEREA, Ohio — A growing trend in recent weeks has been the Browns defense being unable to stop the opponent's running game, especially when they have to.
"We have to improve on stopping the run," coach Eric Mangini said. "They are easily correctable and we just have to do that."
"I think what happens is when you don't convert on third down offensively, it keeps the defense on the field. Improving on third down on both sides would dramatically help us."
The Bengals were playing without Terrell Owens and a banged-up Chad Ochocinco and were still able to dominate the Browns on the ground. Going into the game, the Bengals were at the bottom of the NFL in rushing.
"It's hard to tell (what the problem was)," Chris Gocong said. "It's little things. I think a lot of it is guys trying to do too much and the other team taking advantage of it."
The Browns were not able to get off the field on defense throughout the course of the game. Cedric Benson averaged 4.8 yards a carry on 31 carries for 150 yards. Bernard Scott averaged five yards a carry on eight attempts. The Bengals dominated the time of possession 38:03-21:57.
Safety Abe Elam echoed Gocong's thoughts that the Browns shouldn't have been in the position they were in.
"They played a better game than we did," Elam said. "We'll make the corrections on things we could've done a lot better and will take to the practice field."
Gocong thinks the problems are all easily correctable.
"The thing that is most disappointing is because it's just little things," he said. "We know we have the talent to win."
The Browns (5-9) are in the position to play spoiler against the Ravens and the Steelers.
"You have to have pride and trust the guys in the locker room because we're family and we have to dig deep within ourselves," Elam said.
"It's a sense of pride," Gocong said. "You want to win each week."
With back-to-back losses to teams who had just two wins prior to playing the Browns, Gocong thinks sometimes teams play to the level of their opponent.
"I do feel like a team can do that sometimes," he said. "Sometimes, the defense is hot and sometimes the offense is hot. We just have to put it together."
Elam isn't sure why the Browns can beat the Saints and Patriots, but have so much trouble with other teams.
"It's a long season," Elam said. "Every week, you have to play your best football. In this league, there is so much talent. We're professionals and you have to be at your best each game."
Mangini thinks the Browns can turn things around.
"We're not finished yet," Mangini said. "We have two more games with teams that are at the top of our division."
Mangini Confident: Mangini was asked about his coaching future and gave his usual response.
"I think the important thing is to focus on the next game," he said. "I know you've heard that before from me, but I really believe that. What's important to me is the team continues to improve and everything else will take care of itself."
Mangini says the Browns are heading in the right direction.
"There are hiccups in any process, but I believe in the coaches and I believe we have a very bright future," he said.
Mangini is confident Mike Holmgren will look at the process in its entirety.
"It's indicative of the steps that have to be taken," Mangini said. "When you look at the season in its entirety, that's how I expect it to be evaluated."
No Pulling Rank: Mangini said he did not call defensive signals over defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.
"I love Rob and wouldn't do that to him," Mangini said.
Mangini did say he was signaling in hand signals, but not overriding the defense.
"It was all hands on deck."
Wright to IR: Cornerback Eric Wright will have to go on injured reserve after re-injuring his knee against the Bengals.
"I give Eric a lot of credit coming back from an injury," Mangini said. "He had some ups and down this season. He had an outstanding season last year. What's important for him is to come back and perform like he did last year."