CLEVELAND -- Frustration and disappointment were two words used often in the Cleveland Browns’ locker room following their 31-7 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in the first installment of “The Battle of Ohio” at FirstEnergy Stadium Sunday.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Browns once again struggled in the second period, surrendered 21 unanswered points and never recovered on the way to their fourth straight loss to open the season, and third straight against AFC North Division competition.
“Honestly, I think we can say, as a team, there wasn’t one game that we went into in these first four and felt like it was going to be as tough or we were overmatched or anything of that nature,” defensive back Jason McCourty said.
“We are obviously frustrated, and I think that the key thing you have to look at right now is that we do have more opportunities. It is only the first quarter of the season. There are three more quarters [of the season] to go. It is going to be up to us to dictate how those three quarters end.”
With a pair of winless teams facing off between the Browns and Bengals, something had to give in the AFC North Division matchup.
Unfortunately, that something was the Browns’ defense against the Bengals (1-3).
Despite fumbling on the first drive of the game, Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton completed 25 of his 30 attempts for 286 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions and spread the ball out to nine different players on the way to engineering the lopsided victory.
“Started off fast and that was encouraging from our prior games,” McCourty said. “We were just going out getting an early turnover, getting a three-and-out, and for whatever reason, we kind of broke down in that second quarter again.”
Factoring in the Bengals’ 21 second-quarter points, the Browns have been outscored, 63-21, in the second periods over their first four games of the regular season. Combined over the first half of their opening four games, the Browns have been outscored, 84-28, by their opponents.
“It is disappointing,” defensive back Jamar Taylor said. “We talk a lot about not being the same team as last year and we feel it, but we are not getting the results that we need right now. Dudes just have to come ready with their hard hats and their lunch pails every week. We have to get better. We can’t keep talking about it. We just have to put it on tape. You have to say less and just keep working.
“We have great guys in here. We have guys that are going to come with their hard hats ready to go to work, and that is the best. We are not going to let anybody put their head down. We are just going to keep working and try to get this thing turned around. We have a good Jets team coming in here. They got the ball rolling, so we know we have to come ready next week.”