CLEVELAND, OCT. 22 -- Sam Wyche has always pushed NFL regulations to the limit, exploiting any loophole that might give his Cincinnati Bengals an edge.

So it didn't surprise Cleveland's Bud Carson when the officials got more than a little bewildered during the Bengals' 34-13 victory Monday night.

"There is more confusion in a Cincinnati game, obviously because they try to take a little more advantage of the rules," Carson said. "I think Sam Wyche does a hell of a job."

Carson has frequently criticized Wyche's use of quick huddles and sideline huddles to keep the defense confused. An odd formation by the Bengals in the second quarter began a series of delays by the officials that baffled both teams.

The trouble began when Wyche had tackle Anthony Munoz line up as a wide receiver, split far to the left, on second and goal from the Cleveland 1 midway through the second quarter. Boomer Esiason completed a short touchdown pass to Rodney Holman on the play, but it was nullified because the officials ruled the formation was illegal. Munoz had reported as an eligible receiver, as required, but the Bengals hadn't put the required seven players on the line of scrimmage. The Bengals settled for a field goal.

On the Browns' next possession, a lengthy review determined that a Bernie Kosar incompletion had actually been a lateral. But since the whistle had blown, the Browns kept the ball. Those keeping track of downs lost their places during the discussion, and one play later, the sideline markers indicated it was fourth down. After much discussion, it was ruled third down.

Cincinnati (5-2), which lost to Houston last week, rushed for 233 yards and remained in first place in the AFC Central Division.

"I think this was a hump game, because after the {48-17} defeat we took last week in Houston, had we not been able to perform this week, our confidence would have been in trouble," Wyche said.

The Browns (2-5) are off to their worst start since 1984, when they lost seven of their first eight games.