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Browns' defense needs to rebound, too

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Posted Dec. 15, 2010 @ 7:52 p.m. ET
By Mike Wilkening

Each Wednesday, we'll highlight a Browns player, coach, executive, personnel group or other area of the team that is most under scrutiny. This week, we take a closer look at the Browns' defense.

There's no doubt the Browns' offense came up short in a major way in the loss at Buffalo Sunday. The Browns turned the ball over three times, scored just six points and gained a mere 187 yards on 46 plays against a Bills team that's allowing 363.4 yards and 26.1 points even with Cleveland's feeble totals added into their year-to-date statistics.

So yes, the Cleveland offense needs to play better Sunday.

But so does the Browns' defense. 

The Bills rushed for 192 yards against Cleveland, which surrendered 77 yards to RB Fred Jackson after halftime as Buffalo held its lead and ultimately secured victory. Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for just 142 yards, but he completed 14-of-23 passes, and he found TE David Nelson for the game's only TD on third down to cap a 14-play, 89-yard drive that took 8:24 in the first half.

If the Browns are to win their sixth game of the season Sunday, defensive improvement is needed. And the defense had major problems stopping the Bengals in the first meeting between the clubs in Week Four, surrendering 413 yards on 58 plays. The Browns prevailed on the strength of two recovered fumbles that led to field goals and got the game's pivotal stop late in the game when Browns OLB Matt Roth, who had a very good game, sacked Bengals QB Carson Palmer, who threw for 371 yards and two TDs in defeat. 

Much of the focus leading up to the Browns-Bengals rematch could be on Cleveland's QB play, with head coach Eric Mangini expected to pick a starter between Colt McCoy and Jake Delhomme Thursday. That's an important story line, yes, but the Browns' ability to get stops against a tough opponent also bears watching.

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