CLEVELAND — **Hue Jackson isn't one for excuses and he didn't make any Sunday afternoon. The Browns, he said, were in position to leave FirstEnergy Stadium with their first win of the season.
"We started off like a house of fire the first half, and then we weren't able to maintain it and finish it that way," the first-year coach said following a 25-20 loss to the Ravens.
"That's what happens in the National Football League. You have to keep scoring. We didn't do that in the second half."
After racing out to a 20-0 lead, the Browns and their retooled roster were unable to fend off a charging Ravens team that thwarted a late drive in the waning moments of the game.
"This is a young football team that showed fight and grit a little bit. We just have to learn how to finish. That is my job and that is this staff's job. We make no excuses," Jackson said. "We are an 0-2 football team right now. We have a lot of work to do to continue to get better, but I saw us get better from Week 1 to Week 2, and hopefully, we can continue to do so."
Jackson, who spoke of momentum swings last weekend in a loss to Philadelphia, pointed to another swing of energy on this day when Baltimore returned a blocked extra point with 4:34 to go in the first quarter. The play was the foundation for 25 unanswered points and a Ravens defense that locked down in the second half.
"Whether we were throwing the ball or running the ball, there were some plays we didn't make. Some we made early and some we didn't make, and that's pro football. You just have to make more than you don't make," Jackson said.
"I'm disappointed as anybody for the guys. They have worked extremely hard. Last week, they had a great week of practice. They were ready to play and that showed, but again, it is my responsibility to make sure in the second half that we are ready play two (halves).
"We just didn't execute," said running back Isaiah Crowell, who helped pace the Browns offense with 18 carries for 133 yards and a touchdown.
"We just have to keep on going and have to finish better," said rookie wide receiver Corey Coleman, who caught five passes for 104 yards and two touchdowns. "We played a great team and we just have to focus on finishing."
The Browns play the Ravens during the second half of the 2016 home opener.
Indeed, that's something the Browns — who entered the season with a young and retooled roster — have focused on as they move forward without Robert Griffin III, who was placed on injured reserve last week because of a broken bone in his shoulder.
"I think it's for us, who we are as a young team, it is things we have to learn and how to ride these waves back and forth and grab some momentum back and go put the ball in the end zone," said veteran quarterback Josh McCown, who passed for 260 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in his first start this season.
"We'll have to look at the tape and see. I know, certainly, just as you look at the interception before half by me was one of the things that attributed to that and that can't happen. I'll speak for myself and the part I did in kind of losing some momentum and just cannot do that."
With a trip to Miami approaching, the Browns will regroup for the second of five road trips before the end of October. Asked how the Browns might rally, Jackson didn't blink.
"We rally. It's not how. You go back to work. We have a game next week," he said.
"We can't hang our head in the sand, nobody is going to feel sorry for us. I don't know what that means. We have to go to work, and that's all it is … I think if our players will keep getting better and keep growing — we keep talking about this young team — and learn from the things that are happening to us, I think we will be where we need to be as we get going."
Jackson said the Browns can't and won't make excuses.
"We just have to get better. We are not where we have to be yet, and I am being very honest. That starts with me. That starts with all of us," he said.
"We get it. We have some work to do. I know one thing about that group, they are going to keep battling and they are going to fight, just like they did today.