Monday's ending went beyond what veteran offensive linemen Alex Mack and Joe Thomas envisioned as the worst-case scenario.
With the score tied, 27-27, and mere seconds remaining on the clock, Travis Coons lined up a potential game-winning field goal. A make sends Cleveland to its first win since Oct. 11. A miss sends the Ravens and Browns to their second overtime game of the season.
What happened wasn't among the reasonably assumed possibilities.
Coons' kick felt good, but he heard a second thump, and that's never good. Brent Urban, in his Ravens debut, smacked the ball out of the air and Will Hill, the Ravens' starting strong safety, scooped it up and ran down the sidelines for a game-ending, 64-yard touchdown.
"All I know is there's never a good way to lose," Thomas said, "but this is the worst way."
The touchdown was the second special teams score the Browns surrendered in Monday's 33-27 loss. The first came early on an 82-yard Kaelin Clay punt return. Sandwiched in between was a resilient Browns performance that included a gritty first half from Josh McCown, an improbable, Austin Davis-led comeback in the fourth quarter and a Tramon Williams interception to set up the final possession.
As he dressed in front of his locker, Mack acknowledged how tough the loss was to stomach, but it went far beyond the ending.
"You can look at that last field goal and point a finger there but there's plays all over the film where offense, defense, special teams could have played a little better and gotten a couple more yards," Mack said. "You can try to boil it down at the very end of the game but it takes a whole game in all three phases every week."
Pettine and members of the offense lamented the potential yards that were lost because of a time crunch on the game's final possession.
The Browns took over at Baltimore's 48-yard line with 50 seconds to play after Williams' interception and promptly moved 6 yards on a Brian Hartline reception across the middle. Cleveland didn't run its next play, a 7-yard Davis scramble that ended with a slide in-bounds, until 18 seconds remained.
After a timeout, the Browns ran one more play, a Duke Johnson Jr. run for no gain, before Coons was summoned for the longest field goal attempt of his Cleveland career.
"I heard somebody saying up top that (offensive coordinator John DeFilippo) was cutting out, Austin wasn't hearing him trying to get our guys lined up," Browns coach Mike Pettine said. "Ideally we wanted to get it closer and save the timeout for the field goal. That's on us, we needed to handle that better."
The Browns have been through tough losses and tough finishes throughout this season. Monday's, for many, was the toughest. It just can't carry over to Sunday's game against the Bengals.
The Browns collected themselves nicely after losing to San Diego on a field goal as time expired and rebounded with an overtime victory over the Ravens. Channeling that type of response will be the focus during the short week.
"The competitiveness, the pride, that's a tough one to deal with," Pettine said. "As I told them we're on a short week, we're going to have to figure out a way to put this one behind us and put it behind us quick."