Posted: 6:25 p.m.
Wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh was adamant. It didn't matter that backup Ryan Fitzpatrick was making just his fourth NFL start and his first since his rookie year of 2005.
"I don't care who you've got at quarterback, you need guys that can play around you," Houshmandzadeh said after Sunday's 20-12 loss, another numbing loss lacking points and yards. "And we didn't play well as an offense."
The Bengals had a total of 211 yards, meaning that three of the eight worst offensive games in the Marvin Lewis era have come this season:
- 154 yards, at Baltimore, Sept. 7, 2008 161, at Kansas City, Jan. 1, 2006 182, Pittsburgh, Sept. 21, 2003 189, at Cleveland, Oct. 17, 2004 209, Pittsburgh, Nov. 21, 2004 210, Miami, Sept. 19, 2004 211, Cleveland, Sept. 28, 2008 215, Tennessee, Sept. 14, 2008
NO TIMEOUTS: Another big stat from Sunday: The Bengals used up all three timeouts in the second half with 13:15 left in the game.
"I think the question will be, 'Why do we have to take the timeouts?' " Lewis said correctly in his news conference.
Burning timeouts has been a Bengals trend this season, but this is the first time the defense needed them so quickly in order to get the right personnel on the field.
The first one got used up on a failed challenge when the refs said there wasn't enough evidence showing that Syndric Steptoe caught a 17-yard pass out of bounds. It didn't matter because three plays later safety Chinedum Ndukwe came up with the Bengals' first interception of the season at the Cincinnati 12.
The Bengals burned the last two timeouts on the Browns' 13-play, 80-yard touchdown drive that overlapped the third and fourth quarters. As they scrambled to adjust to a third-and-two and a first-and-goal from the 4, they needed timeouts.
"It's not what we want to do, but it was an unfortunate situation where we had a guy injured," Lewis said. "When a guy goes down, something has to happen so that we can get the right people on the field and obviously you don't want to spend an extra timeout in that situation. It's unfortunate that it happened and it wasn't the way we wanted it done, but it happened."
Running back Chris Perry had just 28 yards on 12 carries and got outrushed by Fitzpatrick. Running the ball against the Browns was always a staple for a Marvin Lewis team. Both Rudi Johnson and Kenny Watson had 100-yarders last year against them. Johnson even had a 202-yard game against Cleveland in '04. But Perry barely has that in four games this season with 208 yards on 72 carries for a shocking 2.9 yards per carry.
The Bengals allowed a season-low 261 yards on defense, their lowest since giving the Rams 241 last Dec. 9 in a 19-10 win.
TURNOVER DRILLED:** The Bengals gave up 247 yards last year to Arizona and lost, and turnovers, like Sunday were the reason. The Bengals had five turnovers both against the Cardinals and Browns. It was just the third five-turnover game under Lewis. The first one came on Dec. 7, 2003 during a 31-13 loss in Baltimore.