The Browns have two games remaining to figure out how they could be so good at taking the ball from opponents but so lousy at scoring points.
With 22 interceptions and seven fumble recoveries, the Browns are tied with the Bears and Buccaneers with a league-high 29 takeaways. The Browns, though, are 28th in scoring. The Bears are 14th and the Buccaneers are 16th in scoring.
Five of their takeaways -- three interceptions and two fumble recoveries -- were at the expense of the Bengals on Sept. 28 in Cincinnati. The rematch of "The battle of Ohio" is Sunday in Cleveland Browns Stadium.
The Browns have scored 73 points off takeaways on six touchdowns and 10 field goals. That represents 35 percent of their 17 touchdowns and 33 percent of their field goals. In other words, the offense scored 55 percent of the time the defense handed it the ball.
The offense has had 126 possessions without the gift of a defensive takeaway, and of those 126 chances, they have scored 31 times on 11 touchdowns and 20 field goals. That means they have scored a touchdown on just 8.7 percent of their possessions without benefit of a takeaway.
During their four-game losing streak, which matches their four-game streak without an offensive touchdown, the Browns have intercepted nine passes and recovered three fumbles by opponents plus two of their own fumbles. Phil Dawson totaled eight field goals in those four games.
"Our defense is playing exceptionally well, and they're giving us chances," quarterback Ken Dorsey said. "I have to capitalize on those chances. We have a great team. We have great weapons on offense. We have to get down to the red zone more and capitalize when we are down there."
The Browns haven't had this many interceptions since they snagged 33 in 2001. They finished 7-9 that season and scores 285 points. They have scored 232 in 2008 with a game left against the Steelers in Pittsburgh to wrap up the season after they play the Bengals.
Offensively, the Browns are stumbling as they did in 2006 when they scored 232 points in 16 games, fired offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson and ended up switching quarterbacks in the 2007 opener; it wasn't just one bad quarter against the Steelers that got Charlie Frye banished to Seattle.
The 2006 Browns finished 4-12. At 4-10, this team is careening toward the same record, but these Browns are playing better defensively if takeaways (27 in 2006) and points allowed (356 in 2006, 305 so far this year) are the measuring sticks.
"It's definitely frustrating," said strong safety Sean Jones, one of four Browns with three interceptions. Brandon McDonald leads the pack with five. "Usually takeaways equal wins, but we have to have all three phases playing well to win ball games.
"This year, one phase will be playing well and the others aren't. We can't say anything about (the offense) because we could have won some games the defense let slip away. If you make a mistake at this level as a defensive back, it's usually a touchdown."
Jones was referring to the back-to-back losses to the Ravens and Broncos four days apart in November. The Browns led the Ravens 27-14 and lost 37-27. They led the Broncos 23-10 and lost 34-30. The defense had no takeaways in the Baltimore game. An interception by Brodney Pool was the only takeaway in the Denver game.
SERIES HISTORY: 71st regular-season meeting. The series is tied, 35-35. The Browns own a 21-13 advantage in games played at home, but the Bengals have won three of the last five games in Cleveland. The rivals met in Cincinnati in September. The Browns scored 17 points in the fourth period. It was their most productive quarter of the season.
--Phil Dawson has kicked 30 field goals, a single-season franchise record. The previous record of 29 was set by Matt Stover in 1995 when the Browns finished 5-11. Dawson tied the record with three field goals against Tennessee and then broke it with one against the Eagles.
--The Browns have gone four games without an offensive touchdown. That never happened in their history before now. Their last touchdown was scored by Jerome Harrison on a 73-yard run with 14:47 to play in Buffalo on Nov. 17.
--After finishing 10-6 in 2007, the Browns are 4-10. The last time they had a collapse like this was in 1995, when they were 5-11 after finishing 11-5.
--LT Joe Thomas and NT Shaun Rogers were voted to the Pro Bowl. Thomas played in the Pro Bowl as a rookie last year. This is Rogers' first season with the Browns. He made it after the 2004 and 2005 seasons with the Lions. Special teams star Josh Cribbs is a first alternate. Kicker Phil Dawson is a second alternate. Guard Eric Steinbach and linebacker D'Qwell Jackson are third alternates.
--Braylon Edwards has had three 100-yard receiving games this year. Each was in a Monday night game. He made five catches for 154 yards vs. the Giants, eight for 104 yards vs. Buffalo and five for 102 yards vs. the Eagles.
--After scoring 402 points last season, the Browns have scored 232 with the game against the Bengals Sunday and then the final game in Pittsburgh coming up.
--LB Andra Davis will likely be playing his final home game with the Browns on Sunday. His contract was restructured after 2007 to make him a free agent after this season. The Browns have given no indication he will be re-signed. Before the restructuring, his contract ran through 2010.
BY THE NUMBERS: 63 -- Yards needed by Jamal Lewis to reach 10,000 for his career.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Both teams had high expectations at the beginning of the year and it hasn't gone that way for either squad. Hopefully we can try to build off these four wins and the next two weeks to try to get a couple more." -- Browns G Eric Steinbach, a former Bengal, on the 4-10 Browns and the 2-11-1 Bengals.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
--The Browns suffered another blow at tight end when Steve Heiden suffered a torn ACL Monday night in Philadelphia. He was scheduled for major surgery Thursday. No timetable for his return next season has been set.
Kellen Winslow is not on injured reserve, but he has a sprained ankle and will miss his third straight game when the Browns host the Bengals.
Rookie tight end Martin Rucker will see increased playing time. Rucker has one catch this season.
--The 2008 season has been a lost one for rookie LB Beau Bell. Bell had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in August. He is scheduled for surgery on his left knee Thursday and has been placed on injured reserve. He did not make a tackle from scrimmage.
--Special teams star Josh Cribbs sat out practice Wednesday with back stiffness.
--RB Jerome Harrison is making progress from a rib injury that prevented him from playing against the Eagles. He practiced on a limited basis Wednesday.
--LB Leon Williams missed practice because of a sprained knee.
--NT Shaun Rogers missed practice with a burner.
--DL Shaun Smith rested because of continuing problems with a calf injury.
GAME PLAN: After contending with the Titans (38 sacks currently) and the Eagles (41 sacks), Ken Dorsey finally catches a break. The Bengals have only 13 sacks. That is reflected in 22 passing touchdowns by their opponents, about four above the league average.
If the Browns are going to end their streak of four games without an offensive touchdown, this is their chance. The problem is the Browns don't have Kellen Winslow (ankle), Steve Heiden (knee) and Jerome Harrison has tender ribs. Dorsey does not have a strong arm, so he will not try to force the ball downfield.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Browns WR Braylon Edwards vs. Bengals CB Leon Hall. Edwards will be a marked man in Cleveland on Sunday after saying Browns fans do not appreciate him. They will be on him immediately if he drops a pass. He will do his best to make sure that does not happen. Edwards caught three passes for 22 yards in Cincinnati.
Browns LB D'Qwell Jackson vs. Bengals RB Cedric Benson. Benson is the Bengals leading rusher, but he is averaging only 3.1 yards a carry. The Browns hope to gang tackle him.
INJURY IMPACT: Down to their third quarterback in Dorsey and down to their third tight end in Darnell Dinkins, the Browns offense will be limited. The defense should be in better shape with the exception of linebacker Leon Williams, who missed practice Wednesday because of a knee injury.