Reeling Browns run defense gets no relief in must-win home finale - News & Notes

The Browns don't have the time to reinvent the wheel with their run defense.

Cleveland is looking to simply be better than it was Sunday -- when it surrendered 226 yards on the ground to the Cardinals -- when it faces the AFC North champion Ravens, who routinely put up those kinds of gaudy rushing numbers no matter which defense they're facing.

"We do not have much time to fix it so we have to get started on it," Browns coach Freddie Kitchens said. "We started on it today, making corrections on the tape getting our guys eyes in the right place and then when you have a one-on-one matchup, you have to beat your defender."

Cleveland's defense, particularly along the defensive line, has been short-handed throughout the second half of the season for a variety of reasons, but Kitchens and others have strayed away from using it as an excuse for the group's recent performances. In the Browns' last two games, they've surrendered an average of 448 yards of total offense with 202.5 of it coming on the ground. 

For the season, Cleveland is among the worst in the NFL in rushing defense, but it hasn't always been that way throughout the year. During a three-game winning streak in November, the Browns allowed a combined 234 rushing yards.

"The game of football is about one-on-one matchups and winning those one-on-one matchups," Kitchens said. "We have to do a better job defensively of beating the guy that is in front of us."

The Ravens, who haven't lost since Cleveland beat them Week 4 in Baltimore, are not only leading the NFL in rushing, but they're also doing so by a wide, wide margin. In that matchup, the Browns limited Baltimore to a then-season low 173 yards on the ground. In the games since, the Ravens have cleared 200 rushing yards on five occasions on their way to an average of better than 202 yards per game.

It's no rest for the weary in a game the Browns absolutely have to have to keep alive their flickering playoff hopes.

"We just need to execute defensively," Kitchens said. "We need to shed blocks better. We just need to do our jobs better."

Check out photos of the Browns in action against the Cardinals

-- Kitchens said he is confident the locker room will band together over the next two weeks despite the team's playoff hopes taking a major hit Sunday in Arizona.

Any more losses by the Browns or any more wins by the Titans and Steelers will officially eliminate the team from playoff contention.

"We just need to execute better when we get to the critical moments in a game," Kitchens said. "There is a lot of good here. It is just we get so swept up in the negative that we can't see the positives. That is what we need to continue to try and focus on in our building and that is the main reason you try to block out the noise and just concentrate on getting better. That is what I want to do as a coach and that is what I want my players to do as players. I think that they have done a good job of that during the course of the year.

"We need to continue to play for each other. I don't have any doubt that we will do that, and that is kind of our job at this point."

-- Kitchens maintained he was not fazed by an emotional outburst from veteran WR Jarvis Landry during the fourth quarter of Sunday's game.

"I wouldn't change Jarvis for anything," Kitchens said. "Jarvis plays the game with passion, which I love. He is tough. He is physical. He wants to win. When you want to win as badly as Jarvis does, sometimes your emotion gets the best of you. I don't have a problem with Jarvis. He is one of my favorites the way he plays the game, him as a person and everything."

Landry continues to lead the team in all receiving categories and cleared 1,000 yards for the fourth time in his career on his first reception Sunday.

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