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Game Day

Browns not in the mood for excuses, moral victories after whirlwind week ends in loss to Chiefs

Jarvis Landry’s metaphorical glass is empty.

The Browns lost again Sunday, and that’s all Landry sees. Never mind the adversity they faced to start and end the week. Coaching changes and injuries aren’t excuses, and improvements don’t equal wins.

Sure, the Browns played their best offensive game in more than a month. They played the Chiefs tough despite a week mired in potential distractions and injuries. But they still lost, 37-21. And to Landry, that loss is bad, and nothing else. Taking steps forward?

“No, we lost” was Landry’s reply to such a notion. “What steps did we take? We didn’t take any steps.”

Moral victories don’t exist in sports, particularly football. The same goes for excuses. “Next man up” is a universal mantra in the NFL.

Just ask interim head coach Gregg Williams, who used the phrase during his press conference Sunday. By the fourth quarter, the Browns were playing without two starting linebackers and three starting defensive backs, making the arduous task of stopping Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes seem even harder. But of course, Williams acknowledges these hindrances as excuses instead of reasons. And he won’t accept excuses.

“Next man up,” Williams said of the injuries. “Can never make an excuse of that.”

But in the next breath, Williams explained how he had to adjust his play-calling to different personnel. He changed concepts to accommodate the reserves he used in place of his starters, and he said the Chiefs noticed. But again, those reasons aren’t enough to justify the end result.

“We still need to make plays,” Williams said. “We have to tackle better. Have to keep the ball in front of us better. Have to keep on playing.”

The defense kept battling, even forcing the only two Kansas City punts after all the injuries occurred. Were it not for a mid-third-quarter blocked punt, the Browns might’ve been driving for the tie when Baker Mayfield threw the game-clinching interception.

Mayfield saw positives in his outing despite the loss. He said he felt he made significant strides Sunday and thinks Greg Robinson played well in his first start at left tackle this season. He liked that the offense, for the most part, scored touchdowns instead of field goals. He liked that Williams felt confident enough in the offense to leave it on the field four times on fourth down, and it converted three of them. Williams opted for two-point conversions instead of one three times after touchdowns. The Browns didn’t convert any, but those decisions still show confidence in the unit -- and the type of urgency the Chiefs inspire.

Those are all positives for the Browns to build on this coming week. But they weren’t good enough to win Sunday. And the NFL, as you’ll often hear, is about wins and losses. The standings don’t have a column for context, which is why the Browns aren’t satisfied with anything that took place during Sunday’s loss and why Landry wasn’t interested in discussing positive takeaways.

“Did we win?” Landry said to a reporter who’d asked whether he was satisfied with any offensive changes made this week.

“No,” the reporter replied.

“Then does it matter?” Landry asked.

“No,” Landry said, answering himself. “It doesn’t.”

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