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Browns 'have to own' loss to Jets before shifting full focus to Steelers

Cleveland isn’t changing its routine as it prepares for biggest game of the season

Why fix what isn't broken?

Shortly after their disappointing loss to the Jets, the Browns learned they still had control of their own playoff destiny. A win over Pittsburgh on Sunday sends Cleveland to the playoffs for the first time since 2002. Simple as that.

The stakes are as big as the Browns have faced in years, but there were no indications Monday the Browns would treat their upcoming week of preparations any differently than the previous 15. Considering it's yet to lose back-to-back games all year, Cleveland is sticking with what got it to this point of the season, heading into Week 17 with a chance to keep playing football in the weeks thereafter.

That meant Monday, just like it's been all season, was all about what went right and wrong the previous day and how the Browns can grow and be better the following Sunday.

"The guys coming off of a loss have made sure that they learned from it this season, and that is where our coaches have to do a really good job of identifying things that we have to get better at. We have to make our corrections and then we are going to move on," Stefanski said. "We are going to make sure that we are putting all of the focus on the work we put in. That is just how we do things around here.

"I think the players here and the coaches understand how we operate, and we will focus on the process of this week and focus on our meetings today as we game-plan. Really stick to the process that we have put forth this entire season."

Check out the best photos from the Browns game against the Jets yesterday by the Browns photo team

From the very beginning, Stefanski has stressed the team's goal is to "go 1-0 every week" — no matter the opponent. The stakes are big every week in the NFL, Stefanski has said, and there's even more proof to it based on the reason why the Browns still control their own playoff destiny.

Cleveland's win over Indianapolis way back in Week 5 is why the Browns, at 10-5, can clinch a playoff spot with a win Sunday while the Colts, also at 10-5, need a win and some help from the Browns or one of the other teams vying for the final few spots in the postseason. Every game matters, and the Browns have respected each week with that mentality.

And it's why they're taking what happened Sunday against the Jets just as seriously as all of their previous games, even though the circumstances — six players, including four WRs, placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list the day before the game — were relatively unprecedented.

"We did too many things that are going to cause you to lose a game with the turnover margin, not getting takeaways, three fumbles and seven drops. Just was sloppy," Stefanski said. "You have to play clean ball on the road, and we did not do that. We are going to make sure that we work really, really hard today within these meetings that the players are in as we speak. We have to own this thing, and we have to make corrections. 

"Today will go a long way in our preparation moving forward."

The Browns haven't had too many Mondays like this. Most importantly, they haven't had back-to-back losing Mondays all season. The Browns are among just three teams in the AFC who have yet to lose consecutive games this season, joining the 14-1 Chiefs and the Colts. The Packers are the only team from the NFC without consecutive losses.

That's a pattern the Browns would prefer to maintain, of course, and it will require the same diligence, focus and resiliency that went into each of the previous four bounce-back performances.

"Whenever we do lose, we find a way to win," DT Larry Ogunjobi said. "I feel like that is just a testament to guys, their resiliency and just being able to just focus on what we have to do. What is done is done. You have to focus on what is going on right now, and that is the Steelers."