AFC North Report

<b>CLEVELAND BROWNS</b><br><br> Did the Browns find their offense in the 44-6 rout of Arizona?<br><br> They sure hope so. For the first time since Kelly Holcomb took over as quarterback and for the first time all season, the Browns moved the ball up and down the field and scored.

Holcomb threw for 392 yards and had three touchdowns and just six incompletions in 35 attempts.

Andre' Davis and Quincy Morgan both had more than 100 yards receiving as the Browns unveiled an attack that had been expected since the season started.

"Hopefully this can give us some confidence," Holcomb said.

"It was what we want to be," coordinator Bruce Arians said. "Hopefully we'll continue growing."

The win came at a welcome time. After a week in which William Green was suspended for four games and Kevin Johnson was cut, the Browns needed a win badly.

They got one -- and they got a much-needed confidence boost at a key point in the season.

Taking advantage of what was given
The Cardinals played a lot of man coverage and left their cornerbacks alone and the Browns took advantage. Kelly Holcomb picked the Cardinals apart. He barely was hit and he barely missed a receiver either. This game was the way the Browns offense has expected to play all season. Holcomb finally played like the quarterback who threw for 429 yards in the playoffs last season. Given time to throw and receivers who got open, Holcomb picked apart Arizona's defense -- to the tune of a career-best 141.9 passer rating.

Quincy Morgan kept insisting that the Browns were 3-6 with Kevin Johnson so they could win without him. Morgan proved his point. After being jeered by the Dawg Pound before the game that he was not Johnson, Morgan caught five passes for 116 yards and a 68-yard touchdown. WR Dennis Northcutt continues to be a big player on third down. Northcutt had six catches against Arizona, four turned third downs into first down. He also scored a touchdown on an inside handoff.

The Browns didn't run a lot, but mainly because they didn't need to with the passing game so effective. James Jackson had 45 yards, but the big thing was that he had two rushing touchdowns.

Galvanizing moment
Butch Davis had to explain to his team why he decided to cut Kevin Johnson and fight through the loss of William Green to a league suspension. He did it excellently. Most players said that the team meeting Davis held to explain Johnson's release -- where Davis and Terry Robiskie both spoke -- was the turning point of the week. Robiskie and Davis convinced a skeptical crowd, and at that point the release of the team's leading receiver became a galvanizing moment as opposed to a divisive one.

Defensive notes
Jeff Blake looked lost. The Browns defenders had something to do with this, but the Cardinals barely competed. Give the Browns credit for squashing Arizona when they had the chance. Arizona hardly tried to run behind its mammoth offensive line, and when it did Marcel Shipp did little. The Browns played well, but the Cardinals were pretty inept as well.

Browns Quick Hits

  • DE Courtney Brown continues to have a strong season. Brown forced a fumble, knocked down two passes and just missed several sacks. Brown has clearly been the defense's best player.
  • LB Brant Boyer got his first start of the season and had an outstanding game. Boyer led the Browns in tackles and intercepted a Jeff Blake pass. His veteran savvy accounted for a lot of plays.
  • The Browns coverage units were very effective, limiting Arizona returns to little or none. Quincy Morgan had a big kickoff return, which set up a score. The special teams units had little impact, but the Browns were solid.

Quote to Note
"It's absolutely the most complete game we've played in the two and a half years I've been here, in absolutely every phase." -- Browns coach Butch Davis.


Ravens coach Brian Billick stressed that there is no dissention in the locker room.

After the Ravens fell to 5-5 on Sunday, there were several reports regarding a shouting match in the locker room and speculation that there was division between the struggling offense and dominating defense.

According to a team source, offensive tackle Orlando Brown got into a heated debate with offensive line coach Jim Colletto in the shower area after the game. During the exchange, linebacker Ray Lewis chimed in and began shouting about accountability.

There was no physical altercation and Lewis received a couple of gashes over his left eye from the first quarter, the source added.

"I was very comfortable with what was being said and the vain it was being said and the purpose for it," Billick said. "It was very emotional and it was about accountability. I'm as comfortable with this team, its faith in one another, its ability to deal with one another in tough times as any team I've been apart of."

When asked about the incident, Brown said, "Nothing happened as far as I'm concerned."

Billick also announced that QB Anthony Wright would make his second start when the Ravens play host to the Seattle Seahawks. Wright was 14-for-25 for 112 yards and two interceptions in his Baltimore debut.

"I thought he executed the game plan very, very well," Billick said. "He was very confident. He knew what was going on. He did not have any of the major tactical errors."

"He made some excellent throws and he needs to make more of them. I think we will as Anthony gets back into a rhythm now having been a starter. Coming off a loss, it's hard to identify and say he played OK but it's something we can build on. I'm comfortable with the way he played."

Wright struggled
In his first start in two years, quarterback Anthony Wright struggled with his consistency. He only averaged 8 yards per completion and was intercepted twice. The first pick was an underthrown deep pass down the middle of the field and the other was a throw that went behind tight end Todd Heap. Running back Chester Taylor dropped two passes that hit off his chest. Once again, Heap led the team in catches with eight for 64 yards.

Lewis also
Jamal Lewis' fumble in overtime cost the Ravens the game. The league's leading rusher was held under 100 yards for just the third time in 10 games this season as Miami repeatedly stuffed the running holes. His 19-yard gain early in the fourth quarter was the longest against the Dolphins defense this season. But his 3.4 yards per carry ranked as his second lowest average of the year.

Another good performance
The Ravens stopped Miami on 12 of 15 third-down attempts. They didn't allow a pass over 17 yards but were helped out by Dolphins quarterback Brian Griese. Although the coverage was solid, Miami could have had a couple of explosive downfield plays if Griese would have not overthrown his receivers. Ravens cornerback Chris McAlister had an average performance compared to his recent efforts, allowing Chris Chambers to catch three passes in man-to-man coverage and getting penalized once for pass interference.

Although Ricky Williams became the second running back to crack 100 yards against the Ravens, he was held in check for the most part. He averaged 2.9 yards on 36 carries. The Ravens had a great scheme, timing their run blitzes with Ed Reed perfectly. Linebacker Ray Lewis finished with 12 tackles and physically beat up Williams on some tackles.

Ravens Quick Hits

  • Orlando Brown has hurt the Ravens in the past two weeks, committing three penalties for 20 yards. Focus could be a problem for a lineman who hasn't played a full season in three years.
  • -CB Corey Fuller played his first game in two weeks and was solid yet not spectacular. His return forced Gary Baxter back to free safety and pushed Will Demps out of the lineup.
  • Kickoff specialist Wade Richey had his most effective game as a Raven. Using the wind to his advantage, he recorded touchbacks on all four of his attempts.
  • Lamont Brightful's 73-yard kickoff return set up the Ravens' first field goal. The Ravens' Matt Stover has now converted 12 straight field goals, hitting from 39 and 45 yards. His counterpart, Miami's Olindo Mare, missed wide right on a 48-yard, go-ahead try in the fourth quarter.
  • NT Maake Kemoeatu saw his most extensive action of the season when defensive end Anthony Weaver was sidelined for the second half with a shoulder injury. Kemoeatu played at nose tackle, moving Kelly Gregg over to end.

Quote to Note
"In every season, there is a defining point on how a team becomes a team. I think this is going to be one of those times. Remember back to the 2000 season when we stuck together. That's the main focus for this week." -- Left guard Edwin Mulitalo after the Ravens lost their second consecutive game and fell to 5-5 on the season.


The Bengals might need more than one football to operate their running offense.

With three-time Pro Bowler Corey Dillon showing signs of coming back from a strained groin, coach Marvin Lewis is going to face a serious question: Does he bring Dillon back or stick with Rudi Johnson?

The Bengals' ranking in rushing offense has climbed 17 spots in two games, from 31st to 14th. They have rushed for 440 yards in the past two games and are now averaging 112.5 yards a game.

Johnson has 247 yards on the ground in the past two games, giving him 607 on 138 attempts. Johnson needs to average 65.5 yards in the final six games to reach 1,000.

When and if Dillon returns at full strength, whom does Lewis play -- Dillon or Johnson?

"I'll deal with that when we get to it," Lewis said. "That will be something that I will deal with, and I won't have to talk about."

Dillon, who ran six times for 21 yards and had two receptions for 15 yards against the Chiefs, weathered his activity well.

"It was good to get him some live contact and work through it like he did," Lewis said.

Great day for the O
The Bengals did not turn the ball over against the Chiefs and have 10 takeaways and just one turnover in their five victories. Jon Kitna had two touchdown passes and no interceptions. He has 11 touchdowns and one interception in the five victories. The call of the game was Kitna's 77-yard touchdown pass to Peter Warrick for a touchdown that stretched the Bengals lead to 24-12 with 6:05 remaining in the fourth quarter.

On the ground, the Bengals had 200 yards and a 6.1-yard average as a team. The offensive line controlled the neutral zone and opened holes for Rudi Johnson and Corey Dillon. Johnson had a 54-yard run and a 3-yard run on third down to ice the game.

Same goes for the D
The Chiefs had been successful on 42.6 percent of their third-down attempts coming into the game. The Bengals held them to 1 for 11 (9 percent). Even though Trent Green had 313 passing yards, the Bengals were successful in defending the middle of the field and taking away the long pass. Green's longest completion was 23 yards to Johnnie Morton.

Though the Chiefs would score two fourth-quarter touchdowns, the Bengals prevented tailback Priest Holmes from breaking loose. Holmes' 98 yards from scrimmage were 42 less than his average and the first time all season he was held below 100 combined yards. His 62 rushing yards were his fewest.

Special Teams notes
There were some problems: Dante Hall gave the Chiefs excellent field position on the first two drives, but the offense could not score. Shayne Graham missed a field goal and had a kickoff go out of bounds. Punter Kyle Richardson had a punt deflected. But in the second half, Peter Warrick went 68 yards with a punt for a touchdown to give the Bengals a 17-6 lead. It was the first special teams score for the Bengals, who have yet to allow a touchdown on special teams. Graham leads the team with 66 points and missed only his second field goal Sunday. He is 14 of 16.

You gotta believe
Marvin Lewis led the Bengals to their most significant victory in 13 years. He had his players believing they could win. Lewis' effort is rubbing off on his team. Lewis and coordinator Leslie Frazier came up with a defensive scheme to slow the Kansas City run game. Offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski showed aggressive play calling that wouldn't let the Chiefs catch up. And special teams coach Darrin Simmons had his players ready to make a big play (Warrick's 68-yard punt return) and limit KC's big-play ability in the kicking game.

Bengals Quick Hits

  • WR Chad Johnson leads the AFC in receiving yards with 881.
  • CB Jeff Burris (concussions) is not likely to play against San Diego.
  • TE Reggie Kelly (foot) is out for the San Diego game, the fourth consecutive game he will miss.
  • TE Matt Schobel (hamstring) took himself out of the game against Kansas City but returned.

Quote to Note
"It feels good, but we have to take care of business all the way down the stretch, or it is all for naught. That is our key." -- Coach Marvin Lewis, when asked how it feels to be in first place.

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