INDIANAPOLIS — **It was a tale of two halves and too little, too late for a young Browns team that couldn't overcome a sluggish start and other self-inflicted wounds.
In a 31-28 loss to the Colts on Sunday afternoon, Cleveland was undone by a bumpy first half in which it allowed touchdowns on four straight possessions and gained 187 yards of total offense.
The final two quarters, however, offered the Browns hope as they held Indianapolis to three points and 75 yards after intermission. Their offense, meanwhile, cut the deficit to three points in a rally that ultimately fell short.
'We're tired of being short each time. We just got to keep working," head coach Hue Jackson said in his postgame news conference. "Nobody is down. Nobody is throwing in a towel or anything like that. I'm (ticked) off because we want to win, deserve to win. But we have to do the things that help you win."
That, of course, includes the ability to overcome inconsistencies that have bothered Cleveland through an 0-3 start to the season. Those shortcomings overshadowed some bright spots at Lucas Oil Stadium.
For example, a promising Browns defense that held Pittsburgh and Baltimore in check surrendered 28 first-half points to a Colts team that totaled 22 in its first two games. But after halftime, Cleveland buckled down and forced five punts and a takeaway on Indianapolis' final seven possessions.
"We just changed the way we were playing defense," cornerback Jamar Taylor said. "They had a good game plan for us in the first half, they ran a bunch of stuff. I can't really tell you what we did, that's something you've got to talk to (defensive coordinator Gregg Williams) about."
Perhaps the best example of that uneven performance Sunday was Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, who gave the Browns fits with seven catches for 153 yards and a touchdown on 11 targets. In the second half, though, the Pro Bowler had one catch for 8 yards.
"It's disappointing, I am not going to sit here and sugar coat that," Jackson said. "That was a guy that we targeted and wanted to slow down. We weren't able to slow him down" in the first half.
On offense, the Browns punted six times and turned it over twice on their first 10 possessions. Then, they found a rhythm in the fourth quarter, scoring on back-to-back series in the final minutes.
"This locker room is one that fights. This locker room is one that's never going to give up, and no game's ever over for us," rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer said. "But yes, when we have those performances in the fourth quarter, you definitely would like to have the same ones in the first and second quarter."
Kizer, who went through highs and lows in his third NFL regular season game, lamented his three interceptions and put Cleveland's defense in tough spots throughout the game.
"When you're driving the ball and you turn the ball over, if you look at the game based upon momentum, we eliminate our momentum when we turn the ball over," he said.
"We put our defense in tough positions to go out there with short fields and stop teams. If we can limit our defense from those opportunities and maximize our own, I'm sure that our that win-loss ratio will be a little different."
Jackson, who took little solace in his team's late comeback, said the Browns know they'll have to improve in a hurry to notch their first win.
"It's just disappointing to be 0-3 right now. It's not where we thought that we would be," he said. "It's where we are. It's what we've earned. So we've got to go from there."
And a rough first half in Indianapolis didn't help that cause.