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Browns embrace 'big-game atmosphere'

Posted Nov 15, 2013

The Cleveland Browns are embracing the opportunity to play meaningful football in the month of November.

The Cleveland Browns play their second of two games against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium Sunday, and there will be a lot at stake for both teams in the Battle of Ohio.

The Browns enter the game at 4-5 overall and in second place in the AFC North Division, 1.5 games behind the front-running Bengals, who are on a two-game losing streak after rattling off four consecutive wins through October.

“We’re ready, we’re excited,” linebacker Paul Kruger said. “Guys are healthy. We feel like we’re hitting on all cylinders and so, we’re right where we want to be. We’re in a good situation and we’ve just got to capitalize.

“It’s just about playing with confidence, following the game plan, doing what you’re coached. It’s just a combination of keeping focused and it’s a long season. Now, we’re getting to the point in the season where every game is crucial, and especially this next one. With being a conference game, playing away, you can’t overemphasize how important every game is.”

Quarterback Jason Campbell said the team talked about the challenge they will face in Cincinnati. He is confident in the Browns because their approach to the game has not changed during the week of preparation.

“Every game from here on out is going to be a big game, and we’ve got to approach them one week at a time,” Campbell said. “We have a big opponent this week in Cincinnati and understand that they’re coming off a tough loss to Baltimore.

“They’re going to be pumped up and ready to go, so we understand. Going on the road, we have to communicate a lot better. We have to make sure we start together and go out and play extremely hard. You’ve got to leave everything on the field in games like this.”

Fourth-year Browns defensive back Joe Haden called Sunday’s game against the Bengals the biggest in his career since, “my national championship game at Florida.”

“All of the games at Florida were big, but this game really, really means something to the Browns and we just want to get it to keep going forward, keep building,” Haden said. “If we get this game, we’re in the driver’s seat for sure.

“That’s always good when you’re finally playing games that mean something, but we’ve got to approach it the same way we approached the first game. They’re a division rival. It’s a division game. We’re playing against a really talented team. We’ve got to look at it as one game at a time, the same way Coach (Rob Chudzinski) has us thinking about it. If we keep doing that, if we keep approaching practice hard, just getting in the film room hard, and since we’ve had that bye week, people are rested. We want to get back out there and make plays.”

When the Browns last played the Bengals, they earned a 17-6 victory over their in-state rivals and held Cincinnati’s potent offense to 266 yards and without a touchdown.

In preparing for this week’s game, Haden said the team can benefit from taking “the focus we had” for the first meeting and carrying it over to the rematch as the Browns look to sweep Cincinnati for the first time since 2002 and post a three-game winning streak against AFC North Division competition for the first time ever.

“The week building up to it, we had really good practice,” Haden recalled. “In the film room, everybody knew. Everybody was on their cues. Everybody really understood their offense and what was going on. That’s the same thing we’ve got to do, get into the film study room and make sure when we get into the game that we start fast. We’ve just got to start out fast and just continue, try to do four quarters like we did against the Ravens.

“We went out there and played, did what we had to do. That’s the same thing. If we start thinking over what it really is, a game, then, that’s when you start trying to do too much and people start trying to do extra. We’re going about it the same way. Everybody does their job and then, everything will work itself out. It’s hard to do because this is a really important game for us, but at the same time, that’s the way we got to where we are now, just going game-by-game.”