It's a snap judgment, but the Bengals 17-6 loss in Cleveland may have come down to the most taken-for-granted play in football.
When the ball slid out of center Kyle Cook's hand on a conventional snap, the ensuing 14-yard loss all but killed Cincinnati's last, best hope to win the game on a first-and-10 from the Browns 41 with 13:08 left.
To his credit Cook has stood up and taken the blame for the mishap, which he says has never happened to him before. The ball wasn't wet. His gloves weren't wet.
Quarterback Andy Dalton's fumble in the pocket at his own 49 on the first series of the second half came after he caught a low shotgun snap, but that didn't appear to impact the play on third-and-seven (the Bengals failed to properly set up a receiver screen for Mohamed Sanu on second down and it only got two yards). The slot blitz from cornerback Chris Owens never got picked up and Owens, the guy that stripped it, recovered it at the Bengals 47.
MORE SNAP JUDGMENTS
» Bengals safety Chris Crocker played 23 snaps in his return. That was four more plays than last year's return in Jacksonville.
» The Giovani Bernard era must be here. He played 50 snaps compared to BenJarvus Green-Ellis's 18.
» With the Bengals playing a lot of base defense SAM backer James Harrison was back with the living when he took 59 percent of the plays and was pretty active with four tackles and one for a loss. But for the second straight week there was a problem subbing him. Against the Packers he was called offside when he couldn't get off the field in time and in Cleveland the Bengals had to take a timeout to avoid a too-many-men-on-the-field penalty.
» A week after playing the most snaps of his career, left end Carlos Dunlap did it again with 89 percent of the snaps Sunday. With right end Michael Johnson taking 94 percent of the snaps and tackle Geno Atkins taking 80 percent, Robert Geathers's season-ending elbow injury has put a dent in the rotation. The two second-year tackles, Devon Still and Brandon Thompson, played 20 percent and 15 percent, respectively.
» The pass-run ratio of throws to handoffs was striking in the second half when the Bengals were within 7-3, 10-3 and 10-6 for the first 18:30 of the half. It was 17 throws to four with one QB sneak and scramble. The Browns threw it 38 times and ran it 30. On Sunday night the team the Bengals play next, the Patriots, gave it to their backs 26 times and threw it 31 times in their impressive victory in Atlanta.