It was a tale of two halves Thursday night, and the Browns defense is determined to write a new story.
After holding the Ravens to 164 yards (a figure Baltimore buoyed with a last-minute, 57-yard drive before halftime), the Browns could not muster such a stand after halftime. Instead, quarterback Joe Flacco found windows in Cleveland's secondary and the Baltimore run game found its footing.
"I thought we did great in the first half, then we weren't able to finish, like in every other game," defensive lineman Danny Shelton said. "We've got to find a way to get over that hump and finish."
In the end, the Browns gave up 396 yards to Flacco and the Ravens after a spirited effort in the first 30 minutes of play. "I thought the defense did some good things in the first half," head coach Hue Jackson said postgame.
Indeed, there were bright spots. Jamie Collins Sr., who played in his second game since being dealt to Cleveland from New England, finished with nine tackles, two tackles-for-loss, a sack and quarterback hurry. Emmanuel Ogbah and Carl Nassib managed to pressure Flacco into errant passes in the first half. The Browns secondary made good work of that dynamic, registering two interceptions. And Joe Haden, who's battled past a lingering groin injury, notched his third pick this season and helped keep speedster Mike Wallace in check.
"In the first half we did great. In the second half we got outworked," defensive lineman Jamie Meder said. "We just have to learn how to finish."
And against that backdrop, the Browns are in search of a remedy for closing out games.
"We just have to try to get that energy up. Try to come out the same way we do at the beginning of games," Haden said. "If I knew the answer we definitely would have come out better. We just need to keep working and come out in that second half playing better."
Second-half lapses, however, aren't unique to the Browns defense. Jackson stressed it's been a team-wide shortcoming that must be addressed to overcome an 0-10 start.
"That's my charge and our staff's charge. It's finding a way. I don't know and I would be the first to tell you – I am not going to sit up here and sugarcoat it – I don't know what that is because we have tried many different things, and we are not going to stop," he said Friday.
"We are not going to stop searching, trying to figure it out because somewhere in there is the key to unlock something that will get us to where we need to be."
That includes the Browns defense, which wants to write a complete script in the final six weeks of the regular season.
"We got to look forward and keep getting better. We're getting there," Ogbah said. "We just have to keep on fighting. I'm not used to losing, but we just have to keep getting better."