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Browns, searching for 1st win, hope to erase pain of two near-misses on national stage

If there's a silver lining in having just three days to prepare for Thursday night's game against the Jets, the Browns say it's the chance to get a bitter taste out of their mouths.

"We wanted to play as fast as we could after this past weekend," coach Hue Jackson said.

After a painful, 21-18 loss to the Saints in New Orleans, Cleveland has a prime opportunity at home in primetime on a national stage to win its first game since December 2016.

It comes after two near-misses in as many weeks. First there was an anticlimactic tie against the Steelers the season opener. Then there was Sunday's heartbreaker, where a pair of missed extra points and last-second field goal dashed their hopes in the Bayou.

The Browns hope tomorrow night at FirstEnergy Stadium ends differently. Still searching for an ever-elusive victory following the franchise's first winless season, Cleveland is treating its bout with New York as a must-win game.

"Every week in my mind as well as the team's is a must-win just because you know how important each and every week is," quarterback Tyrod Taylor said.

"Definitely an opportunity for us to erase the feelings that we've had the past two games. Close games in the first two weeks didn't go our way, but we have an opportunity in this game in front of national media, as well as everybody watching the Thursday game, to erase that taste."

Following an 0-1-1 start, Jackson said the Browns want to put on a good showing in front of a fan base that's stuck by the team through two dismal seasons. And if those dynamics make for additional pressure, the Browns aren't feeling the crunch.

Jackson believes his team is close to breaking through -- pointing to close games over the past two weeks as testimony -- and Thursday night should offer a new-and-improved group a chance to finish. "We just have to make the plays. Like I told our guys this morning, we have to make the plays that win games," he said Tuesday.

"We weren't able to finish it last weekend. We weren't able to finish it the weekend before that. If we get the opportunity, we have to nail it shut when they show up. That's what we have to do."

For a team that's won one game in two-plus seasons, Jackson agreed Thursday night is a crucial one for a team that, on paper, was much improved in the offseason. Cleveland expects to win this season with new additions like Taylor and star wide receiver Jarvis Landry and a talented defense that's starting to come into form as one of the league's better units. Now, the Browns have to go out and made good on those changes.

"We've come a long way. We think we're headed in the right direction as an organization and as a football team, but the only thing that can validate that is winning," he said.

"I don't care if it's Thursday night, Sunday or Monday. It doesn't matter. I think when we play, our goal is to go out and play well enough for four quarters to secure victory, and that's all we need to do."