“Character is tested when you’re up against it.”
Super Bowl-winning coach Dick Vermeil once said these words when talking to his team, and although they were first uttered 30 years ago, Cleveland Browns defensive captain D’Qwell Jackson feels they accurately describe the team after its 31-17 loss to the Detroit Lions at FirstEnergy Stadium Sunday.
“I realized the character of this team after the first two weeks of this season, and then, stringing together three weeks,” Jackson said. “This is a resilient bunch, and one game won’t rattle our confidence at all.
“The confidence hasn’t gone anywhere. You can’t dominate every one, but we’re going to make sure, and I have total confidence that my side of the ball will come back with a sense of urgency. We tasted (wins) those last three weeks, and it tasted good. It felt good to win. It’s one that got away from us when we had the advantage. We’re definitely confident.”
The Browns had a three-game winning streak snapped with the loss to the Lions, but find themselves at 3-3 overall and one game out of first place in the AFC North Division behind the Cincinnati Bengals, who defeated the Buffalo Bills in overtime earlier in the day.
Despite the setback to the Lions, the Browns’ first loss in a month, Jackson is confident in the team heading into next week’s game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field because of the way the players handled the early-season adversity of back-to-back losses and the trade of starting running back Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for a first-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.
“We definitely expect to win,” Jackson said. “And if we didn’t have the confidence, we wouldn’t have done what we did these last three weeks. It’s one loss. Guys were still upbeat. We were in position to make plays. They just made them instead of us.
“We’ve got good guys, from top to bottom. We’ve just got to tighten up some things. I’m quite confident that every guy in this locker room is going to come back with a sense of urgency come tomorrow and Wednesday when we get back to game-planning.”
Jackson also draws confidence from the fact that the defense held the Lions to 26 yards rushing on 11 carries in the first half and limited quarterback Matthew Stafford to 10 of 22 passes for 83 yards with one touchdown.
“We left a lot of plays out there, one in particular that (Reggie) Bush turned into a 39-yard gain,” Jackson said. “We contained them for the most part, and then, they saw a play that they thought could work. It was just a matter that we couldn’t control the run today.
“We’ve had a few good weeks here. We had a 17-7 lead at the half. It was all us. I think we’re a much better team than we showed today. We’ve just got to be ready to finish off a game when we have a lead.”