The tenor of Josh McCown's post-game press conference said it all.
The Browns' 26-23 overtime loss to Denver was affected by the performance of the entire team, but the veteran quarterback wore it like it fell completely on his shoulders.
"That is how I am wired," McCown said. "I think I have said it before, all I was focusing on was my play and what I could have done better. There is a lot going through my mind right now about what I could have done to help us win the game."
One week after he set a bevy of franchise records and was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week, McCown was the first to admit he and the entire Browns offense wasn't as good Sunday against Denver as it was the previous three weeks. The Broncos' No. 1-rated defense had a lot to do with it, as they picked up their third pick-six and added to their league-leading sack total with four Sunday, but the Browns knew they let opportunities to deal Denver its first loss of the season slip through their hands.
For the fourth straight week, Cleveland played from behind for the majority of the game. The offense went without any points in the first half but picked up some steam in the second, scoring a touchdown on the third quarter's opening drive and adding another to draw within two points with 9:20 to play. Both scores came via McCown touchdown throws to Gary Barnidge.
"We said it's going to be hard early to get a handle on what they're doing. Never really picked up the speed that we wanted to," McCown said. "We got a couple of drives there going and finished, but it was not consistent enough."
McCown's final three series bugged him the most.
With less than 2 minutes to play, McCown and the Browns were at Denver's 11-yard line with a first down and trailed by just a field goal. The next three plays didn't gain a yard and Cleveland had to settle for a field goal.
Because of a quick defensive stand, the Browns offense had the ball back at their own 40-yard line and 1:06 to win the game. After a 14-yard completion to Travis Benjamin, McCown threw an incomplete pass and an interception.
"I was stepping up trying to throw the ball out of bounds and avoid a sack so we could keep moving up to get in field goal range and win this thing," McCown said. "I just didn't get enough on the ball when I threw it. It just makes me sick because there is an opportunity there in regulation to win."
A similar opportunity presented itself in overtime after Barkevious Mingo intercepted Peyton Manning and set up the Browns at Denver's 39-yard line. A first-down running play went backward and McCown took back-to-back sacks.
"The play that hurt us there was first down. Got behind the sticks, second-and-12 and had to throw it," Browns coach Mike Pettine said. "That is what I was just talking about. We got ourselves behind the sticks, a predictable passing situation and they were able to capitalize."
McCown, after throwing for 213 yards in the loss, is averaging 341.8 passing yards and two touchdowns in his last four games.
Clearly, the numbers were trivial to him in the wake of Sunday's loss.
"I don't know how to quantify it. It's just a huge missed opportunity," McCown said. "We'll feel like that for the next 24 hours or so."