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Browns know formula for turnaround requires consistency from start to finish

The Browns' second-half problems of late haven't been an issue the entire season. The failed comebacks against Oakland, San Diego and Denver, and the memorable, overtime victory at Baltimore saw Cleveland play some of its best football of the season in the game's final 30 minutes.

Asked about the Browns' latest second-half struggles Friday, coach Mike Pettine referred to those instances as he laid out the bigger issue Cleveland wants to tackle and fix in its final seven games: playing consistent football for the full 60 minutes.

"We have gone against some pretty good football teams that have found some answers and our mistakes caught up to us," Pettine said. "It is frustrating because we have had some good starts. Starting slow had been a problem at times and I think we have done a good job getting out of the gate at times.

"It is a 60-minute game and we have to find a way to play at a high level for the entire time."

This aspect of the Browns' four-game losing streak was among the areas Pettine said the coaches would evaluate and diagnose during the long weekend. The Browns return to practice Tuesday to begin their preparations for Sunday's game at Pittsburgh.

"The brutal facts are that we are a 2-7 football team and that is not acceptable from our standpoint," Pettine said. "We know we can be better. I am very confident in the staff. I am very confident in the team that we can show improvement in our performances moving forward."

In the past three games, it's been the final 30 minutes tripping up the Browns. Against Arizona, the Browns surrendered back-to-back touchdowns to open the third quarter to lose their 13-point lead and never recovered. At St. Louis and Cincinnati, Cleveland tread water in the third quarter before the opponent broke the game open in the fourth.

On Thursday, Cleveland's offense, which mounted two, long drives in the first half to collect 10 points against the undefeated Bengals, didn't pick up a first down in the second half until 3:18 remained in the fourth quarter. The Browns attempted just one running play, a byproduct of "the flow of the game," Pettine said, and simply couldn't recapture anything that worked in the first 30 minutes.

"I think it was a lack of execution," right tackle Mitchell Schwartz said. "Obviously, we had success in the first half. The plays were out there to be made. I think we have to do a better job of making sure everyone is executing."

The Browns went from having three games in 12 days to one game in 24. After Sunday's game in Pittsburgh, Cleveland will wait until Nov. 30 for its Monday Night showdown with the Ravens to play again.

That's enough time to "hit the reset button" in a number of areas. One area that won't be affected is the commitment to make things right, no matter the circumstances.

"No one's going to give up," right guard John Greco said. "Yeah, our record right now isn't what we want. Last year we were 7-4 and (lost) five games straight. What's to say we can't rip off three, four in a row, who knows, five in a row to finish out the season? That's our mindset. It's tough. When things don't go your way and you put so much work and effort into it, it's easy to just hang your head and hang it up for the season, but guys aren't going to do that. It's still our jobs. We're being evaluated every day as with everyone else.

"You'll see who the competitors are and see who still wants to try to right the ship."

A look at all the best photos from the past week, including games versus Arizona and Cincinnati.

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