Updated: 6:15 p.m.
No doubt Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis is going to be in his players’ ears early and often this week about what happened two years ago in Cleveland under startling similar circumstances.
Remember the second week of the 2007 season?
The Bengals were coming off a huge win at Paul Brown Stadium to open the season in a Monday nighter, a 27-20 victory over AFC North rival Baltimore in what remains one of their most intense and hard-hitting games under Lewis fueled by a last-minute goal-line stand.
Meanwhile that same weekend, the Browns were obliterated by Pittsburgh, 34-7, and were immersed in a quarterback quagmire as they prepared for the Bengals by trading Opening Day quarterback Charlie Frye to Seattle two days after the game and naming Derek Anderson to his fourth NFL start.
Anderson then stunned the Bengals with five touchdown passes and 328 yards in Cleveland’s shocking 51-45 win that sent the Bengals into a four-game losing streak and basically knocked them out of contention.
No wonder Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer calls the Browns dangerous and their environment hostile. He threw for six touchdowns that day and got beat.
Now look at the similarities.
The 2-1 Bengals are coming off a big, physical win over another AFC North rival at home, Pittsburgh, also secured in the final minute. Meanwhile, the winless Browns were getting pounded by the other AFC North team, Baltimore, 34-3, and benched their quarterback in making the move to back to, you guessed it, Anderson.
Browns coach Eric Mangini won’t say who his quarterback is, but can you blame the Bengals if they expect Anderson?
No matter whom it is, Palmer expressed all the right caution Monday when saying he didn’t think there could be a letdown. Palmer spoke like a true AFC North veteran as he looked ahead Monday to Sunday’s game.
“It may not seem like a big game because they’re 0-3, but it’s a big game to us because we can go to 3-1 and 2-0 in the division,” Palmer said. “There’s a lot more riding on this game than it looks from the outside.”
Although the Browns won't say and might not know if Anderson or Brady Quinn are starting at quarterback, Palmer knows there are no such things as division upsets.
“Looking back on this film we’ll realize we left a lot out there and didn’t do as well as we could have,” Palmer said. “With the group of guys we have, we’re excited to play that game. I can’t wait to play right now to kind of redeem ourselves and really put together four quarters of good football. Regardless of their record or what their situation is, it’s a dangerous game. It’s a division game. We understand how important division games are. We’re on the road, we’re going to be in a hostile environment. Their fans always show up week in and week out. We understand that.”
The numbers say Browns coach Eric Mangini will start Anderson. The Bengals have never played against Quinn, but are 1-2 against Anderson while giving up eight touchdown passes and making six interceptions. Anderson is 1-1 against Palmer and 1-0 against Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Lewis had no news on injuries, but he thinks SAM linebacker Rey Maualuga is going to be OK after undergoing an MRI on his knee Monday afternoon. Maualuga was limping in the locker room in the morning but went to a meeting and said he’s OK.
Also, like he did Sunday, tight end Reggie Kelly, out for the year with a ruptured Achilles, showed up Monday to offer some wisdom and rehab. He’s walking around and says he’s ahead of schedule. He’ll be 33 next year, but he says he wants to keep playing. He’s a free agent at the end of the season and although he has yet to talk to the club he says he’d like to end his career as a Bengal.
Also Monday, the Bengals said there are plenty of tickets still left for the Oct. 18 game against the Texans, but the Oct. 25 game against the Bears is close to a sellout.