CLEVELAND —** Robert Griffin III spoke of rust and missed opportunities following a long hiatus from the field. But the Browns quarterback found himself able to glean bits of encouragement in a 23-10 loss to the Bengals and his first start since the season opener.
"When you don't play a game for three months and come back, you can be a little bit rusty," he said Sunday postgame.
"There are some things, just routine things, that I could have hit and done a better job of. When that does happen, you have a decision to make. You can either fold or fight through it. I'm happy with how I fought through it."
Griffin, who missed the past 12 weeks because of a broken bone in his shoulder, finished with 104 yards passing on 12-of-28 attempts and rushed for 31 yards — including a one-yard touchdown — on seven touches.
By his own admission, Griffin's display was an inconsistent one that could be expected after an extended layoff. He attributed some mistakes to that dynamic, saying there were "simple easy things" where "rust definitely showed."
"You don't want to miss a throw then make a throw, miss a throw, then make a throw. I feel like those are the things that I was a little rusty on," he said.
"I can fix that easily just by continuing to play. I feel like I fought through a lot of that today and still tried to give the team a chance to win."
The Browns, who fell to 0-13, got behind, 20-0, early and were unable to climb out of that hole despite the resurgence of their run game and a defense that buckled down after the first half.
Griffin, too, seemed to settle down after intermission. While the former Offensive Rookie of the Year missed eight of his first 10 throws, he helped pace two long late drives that cut the lead to 20-10 early in the fourth quarter.
Browns coach Hue Jackson, who tried to temper outside expectations of Griffin last week, said he'll exercise patience in these next three weeks.
"We're sticking him back out there, and it is not like we have training camp and it's not like it's a preseason game and we're getting him ready. This is a real game, and it counts, so he has to go out there and play well," Jackson said.
"You can't simulate everything that is going to happen in a game in practice. There is just no way to do it. At that position, you have to be a little bit more understanding as you go through it. I want him to play well. The more guys are around our system and how we play, the better they will be, but again, this is a first time for everybody and we are going through it right now."
Jackson said he was pleased with Griffin's composure in what was his second game in two seasons. "I thought he had good poise. I didn't feel like it was too big for him," he said.
"Obviously, there are some plays that we wish we had back and he will wish that he had back … Like I said the other day, if things go great, good. If they do not go as good, that's OK, too. We have to grow from it. He will grow from it and continue to get better."
Jackson added: "For him, just being out there and moving around again, calling the game and being involved in a game against a good football team, he showed that he belongs. He has to get better in some areas. I think we all know that. I'm not running from that, but for the first time back out late in the season like this, I thought he held his own."
Griffin described a slew of questions about his performance as an aside compared to Cleveland's big picture going forward.
"All of this is a side note," he said. "We want to find ways to win the football game."