The pain Josh McCown felt throughout Sunday's second half was obvious, but he refused to use it as an excuse for the Browns' scoreless finish in their 34-20 loss to Arizona.
McCown entered Sunday's game with an injured shoulder that limited him in practice throughout the week. It seemed like an afterthought during a first half in which he completed 11-of-17 passes for 122 yards and three touchdowns as he guided the Browns to a 20-7 lead.
He was just 7-of-17 with an interception in Cleveland's scoreless second half that saw the Browns run just three plays in Arizona territory. He received a long look from Browns trainers after a third-down hit from Kevin Minter, briefly dropped to his knees after a second-down sack on the following series but stayed on the field for every play until the Browns' final offensive series.
"You trust a guy that's been in the league for a long time that knows his body," Browns coach Mike Pettine said. "He responded the next play, scrambled out to his left, threw a nice ball and should have ended up converting a first down."
The pain came from his throwing shoulder and ribs. Afterward, it largely came from the frustration he felt about a missed opportunity against one of the NFL's elite teams.
"I don't think any of us executed the way we needed to. That is what it was," McCown said. "We didn't come out and execute the way we did in the first half."
McCown said he was never inhibited enough by the pain to where it affected his performance. Both he and Pettine cited a good throw he made following the sack that left him wincing, and McCown referenced the numerous, downfield passes he threw in the fourth quarter against an Arizona defense that carried a pass-first mentality.
Pettine said the coaches discussed McCown potentially coming out of the game, but stressed "we put it on our players if they are injured and need to come out of the game that they are to go down on the field."
McCown stressed he couldn't predict the future, but said he expected to play Thursday at Cincinnati as long as he can "wake up the next few days and do everything I feel like I need to do to feel effective."
"I just want to be out there fighting with my guys," said McCown, who added there is nothing structurally wrong with his throwing shoulder. "I didn't feel like I was hurting enough that it was going to keep me from doing my job so I'm going to stay out there."
McCown has garnered plenty of respect from his teammates throughout a 13th NFL season that's repeatedly left him bumped and bruised, and that only grew Sunday. Center Alex Mack called McCown "a fighter," and similar sentiments were expressed by others from both sides of the ball.
"I would go to war with him any day," running back Isaiah Crowell said. "I feel like he laid it out on the line, just like he does every day."