This was a chance to seize early control in the AFC North, build momentum after an improbable win and beat a rival again.
This was Cincinnati's chance to prove all the championship talk is legitimate.
Instead, the Bengals stumbled. Don't they always?
Andy Dalton and the offense never got going and the Bengals defense couldn't stop hometown hero Brian Hoyer on two long scoring drives as the Cleveland Browns stunned Cincinnati 17-6 on Sunday.
For Dalton, it was an afternoon filled with frustration as the Bengals managed just two field goals one week after scoring 34 points in a comeback win over Green Bay.
''We didn't make enough plays,'' said Dalton, who finished 23 of 42 for 206 yards and an interception. ''I didn't play well enough. I expect better out of the offense. To not score a touchdown, we've got too good of players and too good of a team not to do that. We have all the ability in the world on this team and we didn't get it done. That's the frustrating thing.''