CLEVELAND - You get the distinct feeling that the Browns are approaching Sunday's home game against Cincinnati as one they must win, even if it is only the second week of the regular season.
"It's very important that we get this win," receiver Kevin Johnson said. "The more you lose games, the harder it is to get back on track. It's definitely key for us to be 1-1 after Sunday. We have a couple of tough games coming up. We have to get this win."
It will be interesting to see how the Browns handle the adversity of the crushing 40-39 loss last Sunday to Kansas City. The Bengals, meanwhile, looked lousy in a 34-6 loss to San Diego.
"It was real embarrassing," Bengals offensive tackle Willie Anderson said. "I've been around when we lost games like that. I thought with the talent we have and with the new look we have that those days are over. We weren't able to show people the new look we think we have."
Bengals coach Dick LeBeau is concerned about how his team will bounce back. He's also worried that the Browns defense will awaken from the slumber it was in last week.
"They had a couple of problems on a couple of plays," LeBeau said. "We know their defense is like ours. They are going to be a very good defense. They had a bizarre game, to say the least. They're probably approaching this game the same way we are. It's just a matter of getting things fixed."
The Browns have been pointing towards the first two weeks since the schedule was unveiled. Home games against the Chiefs and Bengals seemed to provide a perfect opportunity to get off to a 2-0 start. Now they could be staring at a 0-2 record with road games against Tennessee and Pittsburgh up next.
"Every game is big," Davis said. "Name me a game when you say, 'This game, it doesn't matter if we win or not?' Every game it's paramount that you do your very best to win. It won't change this week."
At least the Browns have company in getting off to a slow start. In addittion to the Bengals' loss, AFC North Division rival Pittsburgh and Baltimore are also 0-1. The Steelers, favored to win the division, have a tough test Sunday at home against Oakland.
"It certainly is a little kind of a quirk," Davis said. "But if we had won, we could have been leading the division at 1-0. Now we have a chance to jump back and at least have a tie."
Kenard Lang isn't thinking about the other teams in the division. He just wants to see the defense get back on track after an embarrassing show against the Chiefs.
"The defense has to at least go out there and make a good showing," Lang said. "Last week we looked like a raggedy car out there. Parts weren't working right. We weren't all playing together. We need to be a fine-tuned machine."