"Our passing attack has been different," said Anderson, who has thrown only two TD passes this season after connecting on 19 last year. "We've wanted to concentrate on our rushing game in order to be more consistent. We didn't want to have to go into a game knowing we'd have to throw the ball 30 times to win." Against the Browns, Anderson threw only 19 passes, completing 14 for 153 yards.
While the Bengals have been dogged by bad luck, the Browns have had fortune on their side. For instance, when Coach Forrest Gregg gave Sipe the quarterback job and traded Mike Phipps to Chicago, he received a fourth-round draft choice that turned out to be Mickey Sims, a 6'5", 282-pound defensive tackle from South Carolina State. Needing a replacement for Tackle All-Pro Jerry Sherk, who missed Cleveland's first four games with a knee injury, Gregg tried Sims, and the rookie performed better than Gregg could have dreamed. Gregg also has received unexpected help from Running Back Cleo Miller, Tight End Gary Parris and rookie Cornerback Oliver Davis, not to mention Punter Greg Coleman. No. 2 draft choice Tom Skladany of Ohio State was expected to handle Cleveland's punting chores, but he never came to terms with the Browns. Coleman, a 1976 draft choice who was cut, has averaged 38.3 yards per punt and leads the NFL in kicking the ball out of bounds inside the 20-yard line.
Gregg, the former Green Bay tackle, has been asked "one million times" if he is another Vince Lombardi. His answer: "There will never be another Vince Lombardi, and I don't try to be him. I try to be myself because players can spot a phony 10 miles off."
Says Pruitt, "Because of Forrest's leadership, we are where we are. He never lets us relax even when we win. With Forrest, you've got to play a good football game, win or lose. One of his favorite sayings is, 'What have you done lately?'—not 'What have you done?' "
Unfortunately for Gregg, what the Browns did last Sunday was turn the AFC Central into a four-team battle.