INDIANAPOLIS — **The Browns took little solace in a late comeback that ultimately fell short in Sunday's 31-28 loss to the Colts.
They cut a three-touchdown deficit to three points with two minutes to play, but it was far too little, too late in a game that saw a young team struggle on both sides of the ball.
"You can look at the score of a game," rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer said, "and it can tell a completely different story than the actual game."
That was perhaps the case at Lucas Oil Stadium, as Cleveland (0-3) trailed from start to finish to against an Indianapolis team that scored on four-straight first-half possessions and never looked back.
And though Cleveland's last-minute rally might speak to the character of a team filled with young players and new faces, head coach Hue Jackson made it clear close isn't good enough.
"We're tired of being short. We've just got to keep working," he said in his postgame news conference.
"Nobody's throwing in the towel or anything like that. If anything, I'm pissed off. We want to win, we deserve to win but we've gotta do the things that help you win … that's what pro teams do. We've got to get better."
After back-to-back games against AFC North rivals, the Browns hoped they'd leave Indianapolis — which totaled 22 points in its first two games — with their first win of the season. Instead, Cleveland was undone by a slow start, big plays and untimely turnovers.
Cleveland's defense, which had played so well the past two weeks, surrendered 28 first-half points to second-year quarterback Jacoby Brissett and Pro Bowl receiver T.Y. Hilton, who caught seven passes for 153 yards and a 61-yard touchdown on 11 targets.
"It's disappointing, I'm not going to sit here and sugarcoat that," Jackson said of Hilton's day. "That's the guy we targeted and wanted to slow him down but weren't able to slow him down."
Meanwhile, the Browns offense struggled to find a consistent rhythm. Kizer, who struggled with turnovers the week before in Baltimore, combined for 286 yards and three scores but threw three interceptions, including one in the red zone. It's why the rookie from Notre Dame shrugged off a comeback and instead stressed "sustainability" on offense.
While the Browns tightened up in the second half — allowing just three points after intermission — Jackson described the afternoon as disappointing "because I know what we're trying to accomplish and I see signs of things, it's just not happening fast enough."
With back-to-back home games on tap, the Browns have a chance to snap their losing streak next weekend against the Bengals.
Earlier in the week, Jackson stressed patience with a new-look offense still building chemistry with the young and growing Kizer. That approach won't change.
"We're gonna get better. We will. We've got work to do," Jackson said. "It's just disappointing to be 0-3 right now. It's not where we'd thought we'd be but it's where we are. It's what we've earned, so we've got to go from there."