Three weeks ago, the Cleveland Browns entered the bye week at 4-5 overall and within a game-and-a-half of the AFC North Division-leading Cincinnati Bengals, on the heels of a 24-18 victory over the Baltimore Ravens on Nov. 3.
However, since that time, the Browns lost three straight games, including back-to-back contests against divisional competition in the Bengals, 41-20, on Nov. 17, and Pittsburgh Steelers, 27-11, on Nov. 24, and have fallen four games back in the race for the AFC North Championship with four to play.
“This is the best team that I’ve been a part of since I’ve been in the NFL, and we have the players (to win),” Browns defensive back
“You could tell we have real talent on the team, so you get expectations going. When expectations are so high and you expect so much and it doesn’t happen, you can’t just shake it off. No, it hurts. We should be good. We have the squad to make it happen, and it’s just upsetting when you don’t.”
Veteran middle linebacker D’Qwell Jackson said he feels the team is close to moving in the right direction.
“That’s why a lot of guys are disappointed,” Jackson said. “We feel like we’re right there. We’re right there and we’re just not finishing those drives, or the defense needs to get a stop. We’re not finishing games. This is the most talented football team I’ve been on since the ’07 team, so that’s the frustrating part about it. We can’t finish the game.”
Fourth-year Browns safety T.J. Ward added, “I think we’re a much better team than we’ve been playing, and that’s what makes it so hard. We’re a good team, and we just haven’t been getting it done. If we were a bad team, like we have been in the past, coming into the locker room would be whatever, but it just makes it that much worse.”
At 4-8 with four games left in the 2013 regular season, the Browns find themselves with an opportunity to stop a three-game losing streak starting Sunday against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium.
“Until we start putting these games together, winning the tight games, it’s going to be difficult to be a good team,” Ward said. “The good teams, they win the nail-biters, and they finish games. We have to start finishing.”
Haden added, “We’ve got four games left. We could turn it around. We could get smacked. We determine how the end of the season goes. We play with passion. We play with everything we’ve got, but we just have to do better. We’ve just got to do better.”