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Mike Pettine's return to Buffalo a tough day at the office


ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- There were hugs and handshakes before the game and more as Buffalo and Cleveland went their separate ways when it was over.

For Browns coach Mike Pettine, it was good to be back in Buffalo, where he was defensive coordinator last season, but it was tough to leave for a reason that required little explanation.

"It wasn't a good day at the office," Pettine said after the Browns' 26-10 loss to the Bills.

"It was good to be back here and see a lot of the people that I have very good relationships with. A lot of the guys on defense came up to me after the game. These are guys that you form that bond or brotherhood with when you go through a season together. So, it's good to see them doing well, it just wasn't good seeing them doing well today."

Under Pettine, the Bills' defense blossomed from a unit that was middle of the pack in 2012 to one of the league's toughest and nastiest in 2013. The Bills set a franchise record with 57 sacks and finished in the top 10 in overall defense.

Sunday's performance, which saw the Bills limit the Browns to 124 yards in the second half, brought back the kind of memories Pettine would have prefered not to relive on this particular day at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

The Browns' three turnovers -- two on interceptions and one on a fumble that was returned for a touchdown -- were among Pettine's chief frustrations.

"In this league, you have to make the most of your opportunities when you get them," Pettine said. "This is a defense here that you don't get that many opportunities."

Pettine wasn't the only one returning to familiar territory. Defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil and three other Browns assistants came with Pettine from Buffalo. Safeties Donte Whitner and Jim Leonhard are also former Bills.

While Whitner finished with six tackles, Leonhard, who started in place of the injured Tashaun Gipson, made one of his biggest plays of the season to prevent an early Buffalo touchdown. With the Bills on Cleveland's 7-yard line early in the second quarter, Leonhard read Bills quarterback Kyle Orton's eyes, stepped in front of a pass intended for star rookie Sammy Watkins and made his first interception of the season.

It was a big defensive play on a day where Pettine's former defense made a few more.

"Everybody's out there giving it everything they got, blood, sweat and tears and we can't get the victory," cornerback Joe Haden said. "It sucks, but we got to go home, back to Cleveland, and watch the tape and see what we could do better."

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