Browns at a loss to stop the losing


Oct 4, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers running back Danny Woodhead (39) runs the ball against the Cleveland Browns during the fourth quarter at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Browns on Sunday did what has come naturally to the team since its return to the NFL in 1999.

After dropping a 30-27 decision to San Diego, the Browns have now lost four in a row to the Chargers, and seven of their past 11 meetings. Cleveland has also lost three of its first four games to open the 2015 NFL season, eight of its past nine dating back to last year, and has now lost 175 times in total since returning to the NFL in 1999.

As much of a constant as the losing has been an ongoing list of coaches and players who have been unable to stop the crashing waves that continue to swamp the team.

“Just clearly a frustrating finish. The guys that were out there battling at the end and the guys that had to step up and play I’m proud of them,” head coach Mike Pettine said after the loss. “We just made too many mistakes – penalties, missed assignments here and there. Just some things that were self-inflicted.

“We’ve just got to keep working, go back to work and figure out what it is.” – Cornerback Tramon Williams

“We’re 1-3, we own that. We’re going to do what we know best how to do. Bunker in and get ready for Baltimore.”

This team, like every other Browns team over the past 16 years, has enough trouble with the opponent, but continues to make things more difficult with the penalties. It is no coincidence that in the lone win the Browns were penalized just four times, while in the three losses they are averaging 10 penalties a game.

Another trend is the team’s inability to get to the opposing quarterback. The Browns sacked Tennessee’s Marcus Mariota seven times in their win against the Titans, but have just two combined sacks in their three losses. Both of those sacks game against the Chargers, who were playing without three of their starting linemen, but the Browns still couldn’t take advantage.

“At the end of the day, we’ve just got to get there,” linebacker Paul Kruger said. “It’s not something we did well enough. We made too many mistakes and made them at the wrong time. It’s a hard deal. We were in that game until it was over. It’s just hard because one or two plays got away from us.”

“It’s always heartbreaking to lose like that, for it to be so close and to lose like that.” – Wide receiver Taylor Gabriel

They also couldn’t stop the Chargers from ripping off some big plays, including a 23-yard run by Melvin Gordon, Woodhead’s 19-yard run and a 61-yard reception, Dontrelle Inman’s 68-yard reception, and a 31-yard reception by Keenan Allen.

“They hit us on some crossers. A couple were on us, a couple were good plays by them,” Pettine said.  They made some good plays and we had some issues with some of the crosser stuff. It’s frustrating. The guys that were in there I thought did a good job of adjusting. That’s not the easiest passing attack to go up against. Those guys battled until the end.”

Pettine’s right that the Browns keep going until the end, but that only goes so far when the end always ends the same way.

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“Last week was a long week, just with the way that one ended. We fought hard to block out all of the noise and move into this week. To have this one go this way, we talked about it, it’s not where you want to be,” quarterback Josh McCown said. “We’re all disappointed. At the same time, as men, we have to respond. We have to come back.

“Individually as men, and outside of football, I think it’s just a great tool for your life. And when we do that it will shape us as a team. We’ll start to grow our character as a team. We’ll find the positives and we’ll find things to gain out of this. We’ll learn from the mistakes and the main thing is we’ll respond.”

Put this loss behind us. Get ready for the next game. Learn from the mistakes. It is a familiar refrain that we’ve heard repeatedly.

So why does nothing ever seem to change?

Next: 5 takeaways from the Browns loss to the Chargers