In a matter of seconds the Browns playoff hopes went from good to uncertain. Derek Anderson threw two interceptions on consecutive passes that the Bengals turned into two touchdowns and a 19-point lead in just a span of 1:05 to create a deficit the Browns couldn't overcome. At the time, the Browns were trailing 6-0 and trying to cut into the lead or even take the lead at the half, but the tide turned quickly.
The Bengals defeated the Browns 19-14, dropping the Browns to 9-6 and tied with the Titans for the second Wild Card playoff spot. The Titans are playing the Jets in the later game and a Titans win would tie the two teams at 9-6. The Titans own the tie breaker should both teams end up at 10-6 due to their record within the AFC. The Browns play the 49ers at home next Sunday, while the Titans travel to play the Colts. The Steelers have clinched the division by virtue of the Browns loss, as well.
The theme of the week for the Browns was controlling their own destiny as a win over the Bengals would've put the Browns in the playoffs for the first time since 2002.
That's out the window now. With one game to play, the Browns must defeat the 49ers at home next week and hope for some help from the Colts next Sunday or the Jets today.
The game started promising for the Browns, but they squandered two scoring opportunities to start the game, but were unable to convert either one into points due to a mishandled snap on a field goal attempt and being turned away short on fourth down inside the Bengals' 20.
The Browns had a good drive to start the game on offense, but Dave Zastudil couldn't handle the snap and Phil Dawson's 40-yard field goal attempt was aborted. The Browns started their first drive at their own 10 after a punt and moved to the Bengals' 22 before stalling and the Bengals took over at the 33. They had the ball for 10 plays and drove 68 yards before the miscue.
On the second play, cornerback Leigh Bodden stepped in front of T.J. Houshmandzadeh and intercepted Carson Palmer. Bodden returned his fifth interception of the season to the Bengals' 28. After two runs by Jamal Lewis to the 23. Anderson threw short to Braylon Edwards, who was stopped a yard short of the first down. The Browns decided to go for it on fourth down, but Lewis was stopped for no gain.
After the failed attempt by the Browns, the Bengals marched down the field, mostly behind the running of Kenny Watson to the Browns' 11. Palmer threw an incomplete pass to Chad Johnson in the corner of the end zone on third down, setting up a Shayne Graham field goal from 29 yards with 12:52 to play in the first half to make it 3-0.
The Bengals stopped the Browns and after a punt the Bengals moved downfield to the Browns' 20 before Graham kicked his second field goal to make it 6-0 with 5:04 to play in the first half. Graham's field goal careened off the right goal post and went through.
It could've been worse for the Browns as with 5:56 to play in the first half, the officials ruled that Chad Johnson caught a touchdown pass with Bodden battling him for the ball. However, numerous replays showed the ball was never in Johnson's control. Romeo Crennel challenged the call and it was reversed and ruled an incomplete pass. Two plays later, Graham kicked the field goal.
Trying to cut into a 6-0 lead, disaster happened. Anderson threw two interceptions that resulted in 13 points and the Browns were down19-0 at the half.
The Browns took over with 1:27 to play at their own 43 and Anderson overthrew Jason Wright on the first play and Nedu Ndukwe intercepted the pass and returned it to the Browns' 5. Palmer hit Houshmandzadeh on the first play for the touchdown and the Bengals had a 13-0 lead with 1:05 to play.
He threw another interception on the first play after the kickoff return to Leon Hall. With 45 seconds to play, the Bengals had the ball on the Browns' 20. Palmer hit Reggie Kelly to the one with 29 seconds to play. Watson went in from the one and the Bengals had a 19-0 lead with 26 seconds to play. The Bengals failed on a two-point conversion.
The Browns received the second half kickoff and tried to get themselves back into the game. They moved to the Bengals' 20. Facing third-and-7, Anderson hit Joe Jurevicius for an 11-yard gain to the nine.
However, Anderson tried to hit Winslow in the end zone in double coverage and the ball was deflected off a defender and Ndukwe intercepted the ball in the end zone ending the drive with the 8:45 to play in the third quarter.
After stopping the Bengals quickly after the interception, the Browns started at their own 28 and immediately moved the ball again. Winslow had a big reception to the 18, and then Lewis ran for 10 to the eight. After two runs by Lewis took the ball to the two, Anderson hit Edwards in the back of the end zone with 40 seconds to play to make it 19-7. The Browns went 71 yards in 11 plays taking 5:50 off the clock.
After scoring their first touchdown, the Browns had the Bengals in third-and-11 to start the fourth quarter. Palmer hit Houshmandzadeh for the first down, but he was called for offensive interference, negating the first down. The Bengals were back to the 10 and faced with third-and-21, but a shovel pass to Watson gained 16 yards forcing a punt.
It appeared the Browns received a break when Kyle Larson's punt was just 16 yards and the Browns started at the Bengals' 42. Anderson hit Winslow for a first down to the 30, but then threw an incomplete pass to Edwards on third-and-nine. On fourth-and-nine from the 29, the Browns opted to go for it and Justin Smith batted down the pass to give it back to the Bengals with 11:29 to play.
Again, the Browns' defense forced a three-and-out and Cribbs returned the punt to the Bengals' 48. After passes to Winslow and Tim Carter, the Browns had the ball at the 35. Jason Wright then ran a delay for 18 yards to the 17. However, Anderson threw into double-coverage again and threw his fourth interception, this one to Jonathan Joseph.
Unbelievably, the Bengals immediately went to the air and Palmer threw a pass on the first play and Bodden intercepted the ball and returned it to the Bengals' 16. Houshmandzadeh fell down on the play and Bodden made his second interception of the game and sixth of the season. Two runs by Lewis took the ball to the five and then Anderson hit Edwards for a five-yard score with 5:57 to make it 19-14.
The defense had been very good for most of the second half, but they couldn't stop the Bengals when they had to until a fumble gave the Browns another chance.
After trimming the lead to 19-14, the Bengals were able to get three first downs and take the majority of the time off the clock. Watson carried three straight times for a first down and the two-minute warning at the Browns' 23.
However, Watson fumbled with 1:48 to play at the Browns' 17 on a hit by Andra Davis and D'Qwell Jackson recovered. On the first play, Anderson hit Edwards for an apparent 40-yard gain, but Edwards was called for pass interference. After the penalty backed them up inside the 10, the Browns moved to their own 45 on short passes.
Two short passes took the Browns to the Bengals' 44 with just 18 seconds to play. An incomplete pass to Edwards took the clock to 12 seconds and then a nine-yard pass to Jurevicius took the ball to the 36 with just six seconds to play. On fourth down, Anderson ran for a first down with one second to go and then threw an incomplete pass in the end zone to end the game.
Missed Opportunities: What hurts the most is the fact the Browns could've still won the game despite all their mistakes. If they would've just got points when they were in the red zone on four opportunities:
-- The Browns mishandled a snap on a first quarter field goal from the Bengals' 22.
--Failed to get any points on fourth-and-one from the Bengals' 18.
--Interception by Ndukwe in the end zone when the Browns were at the Bengals' nine.
--Interception by Joseph near the end zone when the Browns were at the Bengals' 17.
The Goat: QB Derek Anderson had one of his worst outings of the season. He overthrew his receivers throughout the game and threw two interceptions that set up the Bengals' first two touchdowns in the final two minutes of the first half. At halftime, Anderson was 7-of-15 for 65 yards, with no touchdowns and two interceptions. He started the second half moving the ball, but threw his third interception when it appeared the Browns would finally get on the board. He threw his first touchdown with 40 seconds to play in the third quarter on a two-yard pass to Braylon Edwards. The first 13 points put up by the Bengals came directly off of Browns' turnovers. Even in the fourth quarter, the Browns still had a chance to come back and were at the Bengals' 17 before Anderson threw interception number four with 7:35 to play. Getting a chance after throwing his fourth interception, he hit Edwards for his second touchdown of the game. Anderson finished 29-of-48 for 250 yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions.
Braylon's Record: WR Braylon Edwards caught a two-yard touchdown in the third quarter to give him 14 for the season. He now holds the Browns' single season record for receiving touchdowns. He was tied with Gary Collins at the start of the game. Edwards caught his 15th touchdown with just under six minutes to play in the game. Edwards finished with eight catches for 52 yards and two scores.
Jamming Jamal: RB Jamal Lewis had 92 yards on 21 carries and five receptions for 42 yards. Jason Wright also had three rushes for 38 yards and three receptions for 33 yards.
Five and six for Leigh: CB Leigh Bodden intercepted QB Carson Palmer in the first quarter. It was Bodden's fifth pick of the season and 11th of his career. It was his fourth against the Bengals. Bodden tied S Sean Jones for the team lead before he picked off his second of the game in the fourth quarter and it set up the Browns' second touchdown. Bodden leads the team with six.
Bad Spot: The Browns tried to challenge the spot when the Bengals signaled for a fair catch after a Browns touchdown. It was clear the receiver caught the ball at the 17, but the Bengals started at their 21. The officials said the play was not reviewable.
K2 Over 1K: TE Kellen Winslow went over 1000 yards to give the Browns a pair of receivers over the mark. Winslow caught a 22-yard slant from QB Derek Anderson on their first possession to get him to 993 and then caught an eight-yard pass to give him 1001 on the season. Winslow is only the second Browns TE to go over 1000 yards, with Ozzie Newsome being the other. Winslow finished with seven catches for 73 yards.
Cribbs Time: KR/WR Joshua Cribbs caught a short pass and turned it into a 12-yard gain for a first down on third down to keep the Browns' first drive alive.
Close Call: DB Daven Holly jarred the ball loose from KR Glen Holt on the opening kickoff, but the Bengals were able to recover the ball.
No Rudi: RB Rudi Johnson was inactive with a hamstring injury and replaced by RB Kenny Watson. Johnson has been very tough on the Browns in the past. However, Watson had a productive day as he rushed for 57 yards only one minute into the second quarter and had 99 yards in the first half. He finished with 130 yards on 30 carries and a touchdown. He also caught three passes for 20 yards. QB Carson Palmer was just 11-of-21 for 115 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. WR Chad Johnson (4-44) and T. J. Houshmandzadeh (2-25) combined for just six catches and 69 yards and one TD.
Big Shaun: DL Shaun Smith had his best game as a member of the Browns against his former team. Smith had eight tackles.
Ethan Hurt: DL Ethan Kelley re-injured his knee after starting the game in the first quarter. DL Orpheus Roye had to move to NT. DL Robaire Smith went down in the second quarter. The Browns had just five players active for the game. DB Mike Adams was injured in the fourth quarter.