The Browns defense hasn't left any room for excuses when they've analyzed their performance against one of the best offensive units in the NFL.
The defense didn't get the job done against the Chiefs — plain and simple. Yes, they have one of the NFL's brightest quarterbacks, fastest receivers and strongest tight ends, but the Browns believed they had a defense good enough to stop them.
Instead, they lost 33-29.
They're 0-1, and that's all that matters.
"At the end of the day, we are all at the NFL level," linebacker Anthony Walker Jr. said Wednesday. "We have to grade ourselves at that level. We can't water it down because you're playing against a MVP-caliber quarterback and a Super Bowl-caliber team. We want to win. To be the best, you have to beat the best. We had an opportunity, and we did not get it done."
Check out exclusive photos of the Browns preparing for their game against the Houston Texans
The Browns will look to reverse track this week against the Houston Texans, the opponent for the Browns' home-opening game at FirstEnergy Stadium. The matchups may not be as difficult as some of the ones the Browns faced in Week 1, but they're preparing as though they have a lot to prove as they look for their first win.
If the defense plays like they did in the first half, a win shouldn't be hard to find.
Cleveland limited the Chiefs to just 10 points in that stretch and performed well on third and fourth downs. Sure, the Chiefs still managed to move into their territory with some big plays — Mahomes finished the half with 169 passing yards, 96 of which went to Hill — but the scoreboard suggested the Browns were doing their jobs.
"We played fast. We played physical," John Johnson III said. "We definitely gave ourselves a chance to win. You do not want to give up that many points or that many yards, but I think there are definitely some highlights from that game. We tackled pretty well."
The plan was working, but the job wasn't complete.
Kansas City scored 23 points in the second half, exposing some of the flaws the new-look defense has worked to correct this week. Their coverage wasn't as tight, and they failed to record game-changing turnovers or sacks — save for the sack Myles Garrett planted on the Chiefs' second-to-last drive of the game.
The Chiefs won Super Bowl LIV and back-to-back AFC Championships from such performances, but the Browns aren't letting history cut into their feelings about their performance.
"We have to go out there and be the best versions of ourselves that we can be," Johnson said. "No matter who the opponent is, you never want to play to the competition. You kind of want to just be the same team every week and get better every week.
"We have to forget about it, move on and get better."
Cleveland can bounce back against a Texans offense that currently ranks first in the NFL after a 37-21 win over the Jaguars. Though that ranking could change over the course of the rest of the season, the Browns are still preparing to face an offense that looks as though it's flying high after a triumphant season debut.
The combination of QB Tyrod Taylor, WR Brandin Cooks and RB Mark Ingram may not garner the same acclaim as what the Chiefs presented last week, but the Browns aren't taking anything lightly after falling short.
The Texans are 1-0, and the Browns are 0-1. They have to get the job done with a full four-quarter performance — regardless of who they're playing.
"Every week is a different challenge," defensive coordinator Joe Woods said. "We wish we could've played better and came away with the win, but we know we'll get better each week."