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Browns want win to be springboard heading into tough trio of games

Three words summed up the feeling Mike Pettine, his coaching staff, Browns players and everyone else involved with the team felt Monday.

"Long time coming," the Browns head coach said less than 24 hours after the Browns closed out their 24-10 victory over the 49ers.

Pettine and the Browns enjoyed a Victory Monday for the first time in two months, and Pettine stressed it was a byproduct of everything that was accomplished in the days leading up to Sunday's showdown at FirstEnergy Stadium.

On Thursday, Pettine mentioned he'd recently talked with injured quarterback Josh McCown, who expressed confidence in what he saw at the previous day's practice. Veteran safety Donte Whitner echoed that sentiment Friday, saying there was an emphasis on the details and little regard for the 2-10 record the team carried into Sunday's game.

On Monday, as he reflected on the ingredients that went into the convincing victory, Pettine called last week's practices some of the best, given the circumstances, he's seen in recent memory.

"It's a tribute to them. It's a tribute to our leadership," Pettine said. "I thought those veterans have done an outstanding job of making sure that guys stay focused. They hear it from the coaching staff, but that only goes so far. To go out and set an example physically and then keep pushing those guys, whether it's in the meeting room, whether it's in the locker room, that's a tribute to our veteran leadership more than anything else."

One of those veterans, tight end Gary Barnidge, recently signed a contract extension because he believes the team is headed in the right direction for 2016 and beyond. The epitome of a team-first player, Barnidge didn't downplay the significance of a victory like Sunday's against the 49ers.

Instead, he called it "huge."

"We have been struggling getting wins lately, and I think that is a huge aspect to get that win and finally get on the right side of the board," Barnidge said. "It is huge building into the last three games and then leading into next year."

Even on a day like Monday, with the first on-field preparations for Week 15 a little more than 48 hours away, the focus of Barnidge and Pettine was drawn to the final three weeks. It's as unforgiving of a final stretch any team in the NFL will face, but the Browns will enter it with the kind of momentum they've had just two other times this season.

It starts on the West Coast this weekend against the defending NFC Champions, Seattle. The Seahawks have won four in a row and outscored their last two opponents, 73-13. They haven't allowed a touchdown on defense in the last eight quarters.

The Browns' final two opponents, Kansas City and Pittsburgh, are both 8-5 and vying for a playoff spot.

"We're not going to look beyond that," Pettine said. "We know that this is a formidable opponent in one of the most hostile environments in the league. We're going to go up there and cut it loose.

"It starts with this week. We're going to have a great deal of respect for them, but we're not going to be intimidated by them. We're going to plan to travel out there and play a good football game."

Pettine was adamant and confident about how the team would represent itself during this closing stretch. What he saw Sunday was a direct indicator.

"We are going to coach our tails off," Pettine said. "We are going to go out and play with the same effort and focus that we played with yesterday and then some."

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