CLEVELAND — **It won't take "magic" or luck for the Browns to win their first game this season.
Head coach Hue Jackson made as much clear Sunday afternoon following a 31-28 loss to the Jets in which Cleveland watched a big lead at halftime evaporate down the stretch.
"We have to do it," Jackson said. "Our players, our staff, coaches and the team, we have to go do it. We have to finish it. We have to get this monkey off our back. It's just that simple."
This rainy and blustery day in Northeast Ohio was a tale of two halves. After mounting a 20-7 lead at halftime, the Browns were unable to sustain such momentum and gave up 24 unanswered points to drop to 0-8 on the season.
"One half, we played the way we always talk about playing, the way coach talks about playing and the way we played this week," said quarterback Josh McCown, who returned to action after suffering an injured shoulder/collarbone in Week 2 against the Ravens.
"That's how we played in the first half. In the second half, we didn't."
It was the fourth game decided by six points or less and the sixth time the Browns have either led or been tied in the final 30 minutes of play.
"We feel like we were in several games and we had opportunities to win and we just weren't able to close it out and so that's going to be probably the emphasis moving forward here," left tackle Joe Thomas said.
"When you have a close game in the second half, you have to be able to make the plays that you have to because typically it comes down to a handful of plays and you've got to make those plays and can't just expect the other team to not make plays in the second half. You've got to have kind of a killer instinct."
The Browns are still trying to find that knack halfway through the season. It's a dynamic that hasn't been lost on Jackson, who said the Browns have been unable to make the most of their chances.
"We had our chances, didn't finish it," he said, "and that's kind of been the story of our season. I take responsibility for that.
"Somehow, someway, we have to find a way in the second half to finish games and we have the opportunity."
Behind McCown and a relentless defensive display that allowed 106 yards in the first half, the Browns rolled out to a 10-0 lead on a day where they shared the field with the likes of Marty Schottenheimer, Bernie Kosar, Hanford Dixon, who were honored along with the rest of Cleveland's 1986 team.
"It's disappointing to have the '86 team here, who did a lot of great things here, and see those guys and not have them be able to walk away from here with a win," Jackson said, "and our players, our players have worked extremely hard," Jackson said.
"Like I told them, this is us. It has nothing to do with anyone else. We have to play better, finish and get better, and it is hard, but we are going to stay after it. It is halfway through the season. We are 0-8. We own the record, and we have to play better. It is just that simple."
Against that backdrop, the Browns say they'll keep approaching a frustrating start to the season — a stretch hampered by an uncanny array of key injuries — with a workmanlike attitude.
"It's a position that you don't want to be in," linebacker Christian Kirksey said. "We have to deal with it. There is no time to cry and complain about it."
"It's 0-8, you know? It stinks, and then to know that you have a hand in not being able to get some of those wins, it crushes you," McCown said.
"But you know what, the thing about this group that has been so impressive – and I know we will, and Coach Jackson will lead the charges — we will bounce back, we will be at work Monday ready to go.
"They will put together a plan for Dallas and we will move forward, so it is a credit to those guys in our locker room," he continued.
"Like I said, when you keep bouncing back and you keep doing that and working the way we are despite the record, that is why these hurt so bad."