CLEVELAND — Neither Browns offensive lineman Joel Bitonio nor his teammates envisioned the unfortunate unfolding of this winless season, one that has been defined by missed opportunities, self-inflicted wounds and other dynamics.
Faced with another 0-13 start after a 1-15 finish in 2016, Bitonio and company hope to end this year on a better note. That objective, of course, continues this weekend in Cleveland's home finale against Baltimore.
"It's our last home game of the season. We're in front of the home crowd. They have supported us the last couple of years even though we haven't been great. That is a credit to them," Bitonio said Monday.
"We're going to do everything we can to get this win if it's a home game or a road game but especially for our fans and for the people of Cleveland."
Indeed, the Browns say they want to win for a fan base that has remained loyal despite a 1-28 mark over the past two seasons. That lone win came in last year's final home game when Cleveland took down the Chargers in dramatic fashion on Christmas Eve, fending off a winless season in the process.
The Browns hope to recreate such a scenario following Sunday's overtime loss to the Packers, which saw the Browns surrender a two-touchdown lead in the first quarter.
"It's definitely a way that really can show what type of men that we have on this team to go out there and compete, go out there and fight our last time in front of our home crowd against Baltimore," linebacker Christian Kirksey said. "I think it'll be something special for us to go out there and finally get this win. I think we are definitely capable of that."
Against a Ravens team that has won six of seven against them, the Browns hope to secure their first win of the season, an elusive, frustrating objective for a young team that was optimistic it would be much-improved following multiple significant acquisitions in free agency and a promising NFL Draft class that included three first-round picks.
Instead, the Browns rank last in points per game (15.2) and 29th in points allowed (25.8) despite what has been a legitimately promising defense despite injuries to starting linebacker Jamie Collins Sr. and defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah.
"You definitely don't walk into the season thinking you are going to go 0-13. You take it one week at a time as a player. Each week you try to get the win. Unfortunately for us this year, the losses have piled up," Bitonio said. "It's tough. It really sucks. We're doing everything on our part to try to be better and try to get those wins."
"Nobody thought that we would be having this record that we have, but we can't sit here and complain about it, sulk and hang our head about it," Kirksey added. "We just have to do something to get more wins for this city, and we will continue to try to find our way."
While the Browns have found themselves on the cusp of winning multiple games, includingSunday’s bitter defeat, they have yet to put together a complete effort.
With a shrinking window to do so, they hope to do accomplish that feat this weekend.
"I think you've seen promise the last quarter of the season, but unless we get a win result, those matter but it doesn't matter on the win-loss record," Bitonio said.
"It's really unfortunate, but I know the guys in the locker room and I know the coach, we're going to fight and do everything we can this week in practice to try to get this win against Baltimore."