CHICAGO — For the second-straight season, the Browns have clinched the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft. When coach Hue Jackson was presented with that information following Sunday's 20-3 loss to the Bears, he flashed a half smile.
"Oh wow. That's nice, I guess," Jackson said sarcastically. "Honestly, I (couldn't) care less about the number one overall pick."
Jackson had no time for silver linings or sugar coating as Cleveland fell to 0-15 this season and 1-30 over the past two years. Instead, he expressed regret during his postgame news conference, looking back toward a door that led to the team's locker room.
"Those guys fight their tails off for me, they work hard, they do everything I ask. Like I told them, my disappointment is not getting them to winning. And that's unfortunate," he said. "We're not making enough plays to do it. That's kind of where we are."
Such was the case on Christmas Eve in Chicago as the Browns watched self-inflicted wounds and missed opportunities undo them once again. Trailing by a field goal at halftime, Cleveland committed two second-half turnovers (including a fumble near the goal line) and saw an offsides penalty nullify an interception return for a touchdown by Myles Garrett on the first play of the half.
Such miscues and misfortune have become the norm for the young Browns. Now, they have one opportunity — a Week 17 meeting with the Steelers in Pittsburgh — to avoid the franchise's first winless season.
"It's unfortunate because you think that we have a chance coming in," offensive lineman Joel Bitonio said. "Even at halftime, we had a good drive and another drive to get a field-goal and we're down by a field-goal and we get that touchdown taken away from Myles. Kind of fell apart after that. It's tough. We expect to come in and compete and they outplayed us today."
The Browns will surely have their hands full with the Steelers, who earned a first-round playoff bye with Monday's win over the Texans. Pittsburgh — which has won nine of the past 10 meetings, including five straight — can still earn home-field advantage with a win over Cleveland and a Jets win over the New England Patriots.
All of that, of course, is out the Browns' control. Their focus remains capturing something that's been painfully elusive for the past four months.
"We got one left to get a win," Bitonio said. "We're 0-15 and if we don't win, we go winless. (It's) tough."