Heading into the bye week, the Cleveland Browns were set up nicely for run at the AFC North Division championship.
The Browns were coming off of a 24-18 win over the reigning Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens and had two weeks to prepare for the Cincinnati Bengals, whom they trailed by 1.5 games in the divisional standings.
Despite the 41-20 loss to the Bengals that put them 2.5 games behind their front-running in-state rivals with six to play in the regular season, the Browns will use the experience to better themselves.
“Every time you’re in that situation, it helps you going forward in the future,” coach Rob Chudzinski said. “We just needed to make some plays and do a better job in terms of that game. If we approach it the right way and learn from it, the next time that we’re in that situation, and have that opportunity, I think we’ll be better.
“This game is one that we can learn from and grow from for the future if we approach it the right way. It was one game, and we have six more to go. There’s a lot still out in front of us. I’m confident our guys will respond.”
The Browns have shown an ability to respond earlier this season.
After losing the first two games of the regular season and trading starting running back Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts for a first-round pick in 2014 NFL Draft, the Browns built a three-game winning streak, something Chudzinski attributed to the close nature of the players.
“We have a very close team, and these guys will continue to fight for each other and compete,” Chudzinski said. “I feel confident we’ll bounce back after making corrections. We can only control what we can control from here going forward, and it’s Steeler Week, so we’ll be getting ready for that and a big challenge with that.”
“I rely on the guys in the locker room and what I’ve seen out of them before. It’s a resilient group. It’s a group that’s really strong, and as I mentioned before, they’re really a ‘together’ group, one of the closest groups I’ve been around.”
That close nature gives Chudzinski confidence heading into the final six games of the regular season, starting with Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at FirstEnergy Stadium.
“I expect and I have no reason to think otherwise that they won’t bounce back and be ready to play and be excited to play this week,” Chudzinski said. “Being at home will bring more energy to it, (as will) the big rivalry that we have with the Steelers.”