The Cleveland Browns could not find a way to stop the Cincinnati Bengals from getting explosive offensive plays, and it came back to haunt them in the form of a 31-17 loss at Paul Brown Stadium last Sunday afternoon.
Much was made of Coach Hue Jackson’s decision to remove his headset prior to the end of the game and deliver a lecture to the defense, and he was not the only one, as defensive coordinator Ray Horton had words for his players following the loss.
“We have to just settle down and play defense,” Horton said. “You have seen spurts, but we are not very consistent right now in playing good football. We have to be. It is Week 8, and our guys need to now go, ‘I am a NFL player and this is what I do,’ and not be on that rollercoaster of up and down.
“We are going to keep finding the players that play well, and when they play well, we are going to keep playing them. It does not matter who you are, where you came from and how you got here. If you perform well, you are going to get more and more opportunities to perform. I was very disappointed in the way we performed down in Cincinnati.”
Factoring in Cincinnati’s three longest touchdowns, 48- and 44-yard passing scores from quarterback Andy Dalton to wide receivers A.J. Green and Brandon LaFell, and a 74-yard sprint from running back Jeremy Hill, as well as another 48-yard grab by Green and 40-yard gallop from Hill, those five plays accounted for 254 yards, or 45.4 percent of the Bengals’ offense against the Browns.
Although the Browns had 21- and 28-yard runs and seven pass catchers each have at least a 10-yard reception, they could not match the Bengals, who rushed for 271 yards, one of the top 10 running performances in franchise history, and totaled 559 against Cleveland’s defense.
With the loss to the Bengals, the Browns dropped to 0-7 under Jackson and remain the only winless team in the National Football League.
“We just need to settle down and produce more big plays, and really, just play fundamentally sound football,” Horton said. “It is no secret to what you are doing and nothing has changed for years. It is just basic fundamental football and then, producing big plays.”
Those big plays could be tackles for lost yards, sacks on opposing quarterbacks and turnovers. But instead of limiting the “big play” category to those, Horton wants his players to focus on doing whatever is necessary to win.
“It doesn’t have to be a turnover-touchdown type of thing,” Horton said. “It is just a third-and-one, a good stop. Just really doing your job. That is what we preach all the time: be fundamentally sound and do your job and just trust that the teammate next to you is going to do his. That is what we have to get good at is just basic fundamental football, and the rest will take care of itself.”