In their last game (which I attended!), Jason Campbell led the Browns to victory over division-rival Ravens. After a bye week of preparation, Cleveland will face the Bengals tomorrow in a key game for the AFC North.
And things are looking good for the Browns.
Campbell’s performance against Baltimore was so impressive that he was named the NFL’s Week 9 Offensive AFC Player of the Week. He went 23-of-35 for 262 yards and three TDs – and no interceptions. He continues to throw accurately and remain poised in the pocket. Having a consistent quarterback has clearly made all the difference for the Browns; you can see how the rest of the team feeds off his energy and confidence.
The fans have rallied around Campbell as well. When he left the game briefly and Weeden took the field, the stadium let out a collective groan which soon gave way to jeers and “boooo”s. (My heart had stopped and I was too shocked and scared to even participate!)
To their credit, the Ravens did an excellent job of protecting major play-makers Gordon and Cameron. Cameron, who has had an impressive season, was limited to just one reception for 4 yards.
With Gordon and Cameron non-factors, the game was all about Davone Bess and Greg Little. Bess had a lot to prove after an abysmal performance, and his determination led to three catches and two TDs. Little had seven receptions for 122 yards.
While the Browns still can’t figure out how to run the ball, the team is shining, and if they keep playing at this level they are absolutely an AFC North contender.
The Bengals, who are 6-4, currently lead the division. But Cleveland’s 17-6 victory over them in September (at the hands of Hoyer) remains fresh in both teams’ minds – not to mention fans’. Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton has thrown six interceptions in the last two weeks. Furthermore, Cincinnati has lost their lost two games and they’ve suffered some casualties – defensive tackle Geno Atkins and cornerback Leon Hall are both out with injuries.
Without a doubt, the match-up to watch this week is Joe Haden versus AJ Green. It will be their fifth meeting in the NFL, and Haden held Green to just 51 yards in their last battle; but Green remains the NFL’s leading receiver this year.
The pressure is on for the Browns to prove they’ve (finally) got what it takes to secure this division.