Updated: 4:20 p.m.
Ever since Browns rookie running back Trent Richardson smoked the Bengals in the second week of the season with 109 yards on 19 carries that included one touchdown rushing and one receiving, the Bengals have been stingy against the run out of a conventional NFL offense and not Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III's option.
Defensive tackle Domata Peko says it's not a coincidence that the Bengals have not allowed a 100-yard rusher since Richardson's effort at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati's 34-27 victory on Sept. 16, and haven't allowed a team to rush for 100 yards in the past two weeks.
"He kind of woke us up a little bit here," Peko said. "It kind of opened our eyes. He's a very physical runner and it's the story of the game. Whoever wins up front this week is going to win the game."
The Browns are 0-5 but head coach Marvin Lewis doesn’t have to give any speeches about the danger of winless teams. Peko lived through the 0-8 start in 2008.
"Every time we play Cleveland, they always give us their A game," Peko said. "It’s the Battle of Ohio. It means so much to our organization here to beat Cleveland and it means a lot to Cincinnati people.
"We've been 0-5 before and it's not pretty. So I know they're going to come out and give us their best effort."
There are some cautionary tales at work here that the Bengals don't look to repeat.
It was two years ago Oct. 10, the day the Reds hosted a playoff game, that the Bengals let one of those winnable games at home slip away in the last four minutes against a Tampa Bay team that finished 3-13 in 2009. Just like last Sunday's loss, a 17-13 verdict to a 1-3 Miami team in which the Bengals had three chances to go ahead in the fourth quarter, it also came with criticism of a late coaching move. Despite a bye week, the Bengals never seemed to recover and continued on a 10-game losing streak. And the streak began the week before against a winless Browns team in Cleveland.
Peko thinks this team is well aware what's at stake with Ben Roethlisberger, Peyton Manning and Eli Manning looming at home in the next three games.
"We really have to get this one this week. We've got a smart team here," Peko said. "We know this is a huge game for us."
GREEN LIMITED: Wide receiver
INJURY UPDATE: Just when it looked like the Bengals would finally have all their defensive backs up and practicing at the same time for the first time this season, the guy that has been the healthiest cornerback of all sat out Wednesday's practice.
As for the Browns, two of their top defenders look to be questionable for Sunday and didn't practice Wednesday: middle linebacker D'Qwell Jackson (concussion) and defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin (calf), and starting cornerback Dimitri Patterson isn't expected to play.