PHILADELPHIA —** Maybe it was pre-game jitters before the season opener, but Hue Jackson said he watched two Browns teams show up in Sunday's loss to the Eagles.
"I saw a team that started a little sporadic," the first-year coach said, "and then I saw a team that started to fight and play."
After a slow start, the Browns mounted a comeback in front of a feisty crowd at Lincoln Financial Field but were ultimately undone by mistakes, or what they described as "self-inflicted wounds."
"Like I just told them last night, momentum in games change. And the momentum changed, and you've got to fight like heck to get it back," Jackson said. "There's things to improve as a football team obviously … we've got to grow from this and get better and we will."
Perhaps the afternoon's turning point came in third quarter, when an errant snap sailed past quarterback Robert Griffin III and into the end zone for a safety. On Philadelphia's ensuing offensive possession, rookie quarterback Carson Wentz lobbed a 35-yard pass to Nelson Agholor in the corner of the end zone to cap a nine-point swing in less than five minutes.
"The safety, to me, that's when I thought (the game) kind of titled, it started going the other way," Jackson said. "I thought momentum was kind of coming our way a little bit."
Indeed, the Browns rallied past an early deficit behind big plays and spirited defensive display. On the first series of the second half, they pulled within three points of the Eagles on the first series of the second half.
The Browns play the Eagles in the second half of the 2016 season opener.
"We just settled down, we knew what we were up against and we felt like if we played the type of defense we know we can play that guys shouldn't score that many points on us," cornerback Tramon Williams said.
Left tackle Joe Thomas added: "We felt really good coming out of the locker room in the second half, we felt like we had some good momentum, we started making some plays.
"I think we kind of got over those jitters that we had early on and then the momentum swung and we weren't able to get it back in the second half to make a run to try and get the lead."
Jackson echoed a similar sentiment and focused on how that first productive series of the second half — a 58-yard, five-play drive that ended with a 35-yard field goal — should have yielded a touchdown.
"We had our opportunities and we didn't get it done," he said. "I take total responsibility for all that … we've got to do better."
The Browns offense, which certainly had its share of promising moments, finished with 288 total yards, converted on 2-of-10 third downs and committed one turnover. Jackson said it seemed as if the "wind came out of the offensive sails" down the stretch.
"I think we just needed to go back and grab that momentum," he said, "and that's what we've got to do as a team."
Against that backdrop, the Browns will now regroup and prepare for their home opener against the Ravens next weekend.
"We'll get better. We need to keep working," Jackson said.
"But I saw signs of things being better, I did, I really did. So we've got to take the good and grow from it and eliminate the bad."