Inside the Game

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Browns lament mistakes but give no excuses, quickly shift focus to home opener

Myles Garrett will spend about two hours thinking about Sunday's season-opening loss to the Ravens.

The Browns, who traveled to Baltimore seeking a 1-0 start for the first time since 2004, will have to digest a long list of mistakes made in a 38-6 thumping to their AFC North rival. Consistently successful sequences were hard to find on either side of the ball. The offense scored just one touchdown. The defense, meanwhile, allowed five of them.

Garrett plans to have the game out of his head as soon as the team plane lands back in Cleveland.

"By the time we touch the ground, this will be out of my mind," Garrett said. "We didn't play mistake free. We gave the ball up, we busted coverages, we didn't get to them enough. We lost this one. It's over. We just got to keep it moving. That's my mindset right now."

Check out photos of the Browns against the Ravens

The Browns will benefit from carrying that approach this week, which features a quick Week 2 turnaround for Thursday Night Football against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Yes, players and coaches will want to forget about Sunday's poor performance as fast as possible, but the next three days will be spent analyzing what went wrong in their first game and how they can remedy it in a hurry after a long, unusual offseason.

The numbers weren't good in any phase. QB Baker Mayfield went 21-for-39 with 189 passing yards, one touchdown and an interception. RBs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt had a few big gains that pumped juice into the offense, but they ultimately finished with 132 combined rushing yards and no trips to the end zone. The defense allowed 377 total yards and sacked Ravens QB Lamar Jackson twice.

Coach Kevin Stefanski didn't mince words when he digested what went wrong in his first game as head coach for Cleveland.

"It's hard to say we did anything well," he said. "We only scored six points, and that's not good enough in the National Football League."

Stefanski was dealt a tough hand in preparing for Baltimore after coaching no preseason games and dealing with an offseason that lacked anything but a normal flow. The Browns didn't commence team practices until the beginning of August, and the new coaching staff was given a late start on evaluations for both new and returning players.

The Browns, however, always believed they were ready to face such a formidable opponent. The offense was full of veteran players, and the defense performed well in training camp despite injuries to key players. Cleveland had beaten Jackson and the aggressive Ravens offense, too, in Week 4 of last season.

But the hopes took a big gash after the first drive of the game when Calais Campbell deflected a Mayfield pass into the arms of Ravens CB Marlon Humphrey for an interception. The Ravens scored six plays later and built a lead they sustained the rest of the game.

Early success was crucial for the Browns. They didn't find it, and playing from behind proved detrimental for the rest of the afternoon.

"It was a tough one for us," Mayfield said, "to come out on that first drive with a little momentum. Calais made a couple good plays, and they got an interception. We've got to take care of the ball. I know that. We were still in that game."

Mayfield is right — the Browns were still in the game. But the mistakes continued to pile up even after they cut the score to 10-6 with a touchdown to TE David Njoku. That became the only scoring highlight on a day overshadowed with three turnovers, three third-down conversions and no more trips to the red zone.

Stefanski gave the Ravens credit and didn't leave room for any excuses.

The Browns are full of talented players. He wants more from them the rest of the season.

"(The Ravens) deserve to win," Stefanski said. "They out-coached us. They outplayed us. We did a lot of things losing teams do. We didn't play complementary football, and we put our defense in a tough spot a bunch. That's my responsibility, and that's on me."

The next opportunity for corrections, though, is four days away. FirstEnergy Stadium will be the setting. The Bengals will be the opponent. Thursday Night Football will be the audience.

It'll be the first step the Browns can take toward showing that Sunday wasn't a reflection of this year's team, and they can make up for the divisional loss if they defeat their in-state rival.

To do it, however, they need to forget about their first loss. There's no time to dwell on what went wrong if it won't lead to a better performance in the home opener, and the Browns are ready to move on.

"We have 15 more games," Garrett said. "The last thing we need to do is get down on this one."

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