The 1-0 mindset got the Browns back into the playoff hunt and back into a position to make Sunday’s game as big as it was.
After a loss Sunday delivered a major blow to those aspirations, Freddie Kitchens doesn’t see a need to change up the philosophy heading into the final quarter of the regular season.
“Moving forward, we are going to do the same thing because I know this, we have a zero percent chance unless we take care of what we can take care of, and that is just to go 1-0 this week,” Kitchens said Monday. “We are about to play a Cincinnati team that is coming off of their first win. Their confidence is going to be at an all-time high. We understand that and respect that, but we also know that is more about us than anything else.
“We always have to take care of ourselves first. I think our guys will do a good job of coming back, getting focused and just going back to the same way. We need to approach every week the same – to be 1-0.”
The Browns, now at 5-7, need to win the rest of their games to even have a small chance of making the playoffs. It’s the same kind of situation they found themselves in at this point last year, when they rattled off three straight wins before they were officially eliminated Week 16.
The circumstances, of course, are different with how the Browns arrived at this point, but the carrot still hangs at the end of the stick heading into a must-win game Sunday against the Bengals at FirstEnergy Stadium.
“A lot of times it gets lost in the shuffle that we have a good, young core group that have not been in a lot of these situations. I told these guys the other night, this was the first time we had been in a playoff type atmosphere and it was truly a playoff type atmosphere,” Kitchens said.
“The next time we are in that situation, I expect us to respond better. I expect to do a better job. I expect my coaches to do a better job. I expect our corners to do a better job, our running backs, our quarterbacks – I expect everyone to get better from experience. Yeah, I think all of these things that come up during the course of a football season make you better moving forward.”
Check out the best photos from the Cleveland Browns game against the Pittsburgh Steelers yesterday by the Browns photo team
-- Browns LT Greg Robinson remains in the league’s concussion protocol, Kitchens said. Robinson did not travel with the team to Pittsburgh, marking the second game this season he hasn’t started.
The Browns played Justin McCray in Robinson’s place on a day the team surrendered five sacks.
“I thought they were good to start the game, and I think we need to continue to match or set the tone with our intensity throughout the whole game,” Kitchens said. “I think we need to be more consistent.”
CB Greedy Williams left Sunday’s game with a shoulder injury and did not return. Kitchens said he “should be good” but was undergoing further evaluation.
S Damarious Randall will return to the team this week after not traveling to Pittsburgh because of a coach’s decision, Kitchens said.
“I am assuming he will do everything we need to do to be on the field,” Kitchens said.
-- Kitchens said he regretted not attempting at least one running play during a pivotal fourth quarter series Sunday that resulted in a three-and-out.
Following Terrance Mitchell’s interception, the Browns had the ball at Pittsburgh’s 30-yard line and trailed by a touchdown. Cleveland attempted three passes. The first went incomplete, the second went for no gain and the third ended with a sack that put the Browns out of field goal range.
The Browns rushed for 91 yards in the first half but managed just 15 on six carries in the second.
“We took a shot to Jarvis (Landry) down the left side. It was a 50/50 catch, but in hindsight, I should have handed the ball off, see what happens and play third down,” Kitchens said.