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Browns know running game has to be better vs. Titans

The Jets weren't going to make it easy running the ball Sunday, and the Browns didn't do anything to make it more difficult for a defense that only got stronger as the game progressed.

That, in a nutshell, was Mike Pettine's assessment after a 31-10 loss in which Cleveland didn't move the ball on the ground the way it intended.

The Browns gained 104 rushing yards but averaged fewer than 4 yards per attempt and saw their running backs account for just 46 yards on 20 carries. Quarterbacks Josh McCown and Johnny Manziel combined for 58 yards to lead the team.

"Their defense is built to defend the run," Pettine said of the Jets, who ranked fifth in the NFL last season in run defense. "I didn't think we were doing a very good job blocking at the point of attack. Our pad level wasn't great. We were getting knocked back at times. We hit a few runs and this is the type of team you're not going to hit runs consistently, then you've got a chance to hit a big one and that opportunity never came up for us."

Both McCown and Manziel picked up double-digit runs on broken plays. A couple of long Manziel runs were negated by penalties.

Isaiah Crowell and rookie Duke Johnson Jr. each had a long carry of 8 yards but neither could generate much else against a Jets defense that loaded the box after starting quarterback Josh McCown went down with a concussion.

"I thought Duke (Johnson Jr.) did some good things. It was tough sledding when (Crowell) carried the ball," Pettine said. "But I think overall we didn't do a good enough job of blocking their front in order to sustain any type of rushing attack. I also think the circumstances of the game got away from us a little bit in the second half. That kind of took us out of wanting to run the football."

Cleveland's running backs gained just 9 yards in the second half.

"Very disappointing," said Crowell, who finished with 20 yards on 12 carries. Johnson had 22 on seven.

"When you get behind, you stop running the ball and, really, if you want to average 4 yards and get 100 yards rushing for the running back, you've got to be able to run the ball in the second half," left tackle Joe Thomas said. "Get a couple of long runs and then you're feeling pretty good about yourself."

By the time they cleaned up their lockers in the visiting MetLife Stadium locker room, the Browns had already shifted their focus to this Sunday's game against the Tennessee Titans. The matchup, on paper, is more favorable for a more successful rushing performance -- the Titans were 31st in the league last season at stopping the run -- but Cleveland's players know it falls on them to be the kind of running team that was envisioned throughout the offseason.

"Just continue to work on it, don't get behind," left guard Joel Bitonio said. "They were kind of loading the box a few times there on us. We've just got to be better. We've got to block better and we'll see what happens."

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