During halftime of Sunday's loss to the Colts, the Browns defense paused and allowed for a brief moment of introspection.
"We just had to look each other in the eye and look ourselves in the eye," rookie safety Jabrill Peppers said, "and really hone in on why we aren't playing the way we're supposed to play when we first come out here."
It ignited another impressive second half that watched Cleveland hold Indianapolis to three points and 75 yards. And while it helped spark a late comeback, it was too little, too late for a young Browns team that has lamented self-inflicted wounds on both sides of the ball.
It's a bittersweet trend that's seen Cleveland fall to 0-3 despite three dominant defensive displays after intermission. Including this past weekend's game in Indianapolis, the Browns are giving up an average of 4.3 points and 113 yards in the final two quarters of play.
"It is adjustments," head coach Hue Jackson said of that disparity. "We see what offenses are trying to do to us, and we're able to make those adjustments to slow that down. It's no different on offense. It's the same thing. We start slow and then all of a sudden, we pick it up in the second half. We make the adjustments. We have to start faster on both sides of the ball."
"We continuously come out and shoot ourselves in the foot and try to gnaw our way back into the game," Peppers added. "You are not going to win many ballgames like that. We have to come out from opening kickoff to closing whistle ready to go and ready to execute. It shouldn't be when we get behind or things like that."
After Colts wide receiver and Pro Bowler T.Y. Hilton gashed a young secondary for 145 yards and a 61-yard touchdown in the first half, Peppers said the Browns reminded themselves of an attitude that has been the backbone of a re-energized unit under new coordinator Gregg Williams.
"Some things are going to pop in the game that they haven't showed on tape, you make the necessary adjustments that way. But I don't think it was just the adjustments," he said. "I think it was more so us like, all right, we know this isn't us. This is not how we play defense here, this is not how we run to the ball, this is not our effort."
With back-to-back home games against the Bengals and Jets, the Browns hope to apply that approach for a full 60 minutes. The second half against the Colts could be a good place to start.
"We wanted to make a point we're not going to quit no matter the circumstances no matter the score, were going to play hard through the whistle," Peppers said.
"We've just got to come out like that."