It was the worst game of Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton's career and the worst of any quarterback in more than 30 years. And he knew it.
"I should. I deserve it. It all starts with me,' said Dalton when asked who should take the blame for Thursday night's abysmal 24-3 loss to the Browns at Paul Brown Stadium. "It all goes through the quarterback. I have to play better to put our team in position to win the game."
A career-low in everything (86 yards for an entire game, a 10-for-33 completion percentage) computed to a 2 passer rating, reportedly the lowest by a quarterback with more than 30 attempts since the Giants' Scott Brunner in 1983.
ProFootballTalk.com reported it is the worst by any starting quarterback since Bruce Gradkowski pulled a 1.0 for Cleveland against Pittsburgh on Dec. 28, 2008. PFT also reported it was the worst passer rating for a quarterback with at least 20 attempts since Cleveland's Jeff Garcia went 0.0 against Dallas on Sept. 19, 2004.
A season that started so brightly for Dalton with one interception in the first four games has turned raw. He now has more picks (nine) than TDs (eight).
Dalton said the 25 mile-per-hour wins weren't a factor and admitted his interception on his second pass and fifth play of the game was a bit unnerving. He was trying to hit tight end Jermaine Gresham over the middle at the Bengals 33 and seemed to expect Gresham to keep running, but it looked like he stopped.
"It was a miscommunication on our part and I have to be better not to throw it," Dalton said.
SLANTS AND SCREENS: It was the fewest points the Bengals have had at PBS since the Ravens beat the Ryan Fitzpatrick-led Bengals, 34-3, on Nov. 30, 2008. And It was the first time they didn't have a home TD since Dalton's first game at PBS, a 13-8 loss to the 49ers on Sept. 25, 2011…
Former Browns wide receiver Greg Little had a dustup with his old mates early. After running back Jeremy Hill was dropped for a two-yard loss on third-and-two, Little got flagged 15 yards for what the official said was a head butt.
"Just chattering," Little said. "It is what it is. It's football. Move on and make a couple of plays."
Little had one catch for eight yards and said there was much talking going on.
"Not really," Little said. "Like I said. I have great respect for those guys." …
Hill suffered his first NFL fumble and it was a big one. With the Bengals trailing, 14-3, he took off on a 13-yarder, but safety Tashaun Gipson got his helmet on the ball to pop it loose and cornerback Joe Haden recovered at the Browns 28 with plenty of time left, 12:12 left in the first half.
"It just got me on the elbow. Squeezing the ball too tight," said Hill, who didn't lose his one career fumble at LSU. "I just have to relax with it."
The Browns came in 30th against the run and yet since the Bengals fell behind, they only ran it 22 times. Still, they ran for less than four yards per carry (3.9) with Hill going for 55 yards on 12 carries.
I think their defense was (vulnerable) to the run," obviously we had a lot of successful runs today," Hill said. "We just couldn't get the attempts we wanted."
But the Browns did have a couple of key stops.
The first one was on that third and two on the second series when Hill ran left and got buried for a two-yard loss at the Bengals 38 as end/linebacker Jabaal Sheard and middle linebacker Karlos Dansby converged.
The second one came after the Bengals got a three-and-out following Hill's fumble. On second-and-two from the 34, Peerman went left and got stormed under by Sheard and Gipson for a three-yard loss and they couldn't convert third-and-five.
After Hill converted a third-and-two on the first series, they whiffed on nine straight third downs. Hill might have got 4.6 yards per carry, but they couldn't get a push. Dalton had his league-leading streak of seven straight successful third-and-one rushes snapped in the third quarter…
With Adam Jones starting in place of cornerback Leon Hall, the Bengals backed him off in the return game and put him back for two kickoffs and one punt. He did pop one for 34 yards against the Browns' No. 1 kick cover team and he keeps his eligibility in the bid to remain the NFL's leading kick and punt returner. He took his one punt for four yards…