CLEVELAND - How do you lose a game when you gain 113 more yards, have as many first downs, and prevent the opponent from scoring touchdowns on three out of four red-zone trips?
Easy when it was the Bengals' 23-20 loss to the Browns. They had a 44-yard field goal blocked, fumbled twice to give up six points, could only come up with one sack and one interception, and lost time of possession to Browns running back Peyton Hillis. As much as the offense struggled in the first three games, the Bengals were third in the NFL in possession with more than 34 minutes but could manage just 29:14 Sunday.
The block, which ended Mike Nugent's club record streak at nine straight to open a Bengals career, was huge. It came with 1:10 left in the first half and would have given the Bengals a 13-10 halftime lead. But it allowed the Browns to come back and get a field goal themselves as the half ran out.
The Browns didn't do anything special to get the block. Linebacker Scott Fujita said he never had a block in his life until he got past tackle Dennis Roland. Fujita cut through the unfortunate right tackle duo of Roland and Andre Smith that struggled all day, but it appeared to radio reports that Roland didn't block down.
SLANTS AND SCREENS
» Aiding that late field goal was an unnecessary roughness call on safety Chinedum Ndukwe tackling tight end Ben Watson down the middle after his 21-yard catch. The Bengals didn't see it.
"It was unfortunate he had to make that call," Ndukwe said. "I didn't feel that was a dirty play or a dirty hit. I'm not a dirty player. If the ball is in the air I'm going to try and take him out."
» The Bengals defense let backup quarterback Seneca Wallace make some plays out of the pocket.
"I needed to get on his front shoulder and keep him inside," said Bengals left end Robert Geathers about the third-down conversion pass that kept the touchdown drive alive that opened the second half.
On a third-and-three from the Bengals 28, it looked Geathers had a shot to get Wallace but he sprinted outside and hit wide receiver Chansi Stuckey for eight yards.
The Bengals played the entire second half without half of their starting secondary. Cornerback Johnathan Joseph (arm) said after the game it wasn't broken and he thinks he'll able to play Sunday against Tampa Bay. Safety Roy Williams (knee) may be out a couple of weeks. The word was he got an MRI Sunday night.