Horton: Browns' D has played tight in fourth

December, 19, 2013
12/19/13
3:41
PM ET
Coordinator day was testy and dour for the Cleveland Browns.

While offensive coordinator Norv Turner pointedly defended his decisions and players, defensive coordinator Ray Horton used the term “tighten up” to describe the way the defense has played in the fourth quarter of the past three games.

Horton did not hide from his unit’s performance, nor did he hide from the fact that in three fourth quarters in a row the Browns had given up leads and drives.

[+] EnlargeMichael Bush
Ron Schwane/USA TODAY SportsMichael Bush and the Bears rolled against the Browns' defense in the fourth quarter last Sunday.
“It's highly ... it's very disappointing,” Horton said. “We talk to our players about it. You cannot play well for three quarters and then come crunch time tighten up and ... because the calls, when you look at them, are about the same and the same players theoretically are on the field. Their team has run theoretically the same plays so we've talked to our players. We've looked at our plays and we've talked about being clutch in the end.”

Jacksonville completed an 80-yard drive with a touchdown in the final minutes. New England -- with the help of two controversial penalties -- turned a 26-14 deficit into a 27-26 win in the final 1:01. And Chicago scored 21 fourth-quarter points.

Horton even dropped a LeBron James reference, saying sometimes his teammates stand and wait for him to make a shot.

“Our big-time players play well, but we also need our role players to do their role,” Horton said.

It sounded a bit like what defensive back Joe Haden said earlier in the week, that guys are trying too hard, which causes them to play tight or causes them to try to do too much.

“That could be,” Horton said. “Somebody could be putting the reverse pressure of, ‘I'm going to do it’ and then you get out of your gap and you do a different technique. But why would you ... we talk about every play is weighted the same, whether it's the first play or the last play of the game.

“To me it really doesn't make a difference. And I know [with] athletes it does, because as the clock ticks down, they do. There's a psychological effect on them but it shouldn't be that way. One play, whether to me it's in the first quarter or last quarter, they're all important to me."

Horton said guys simply need to do their job.

“You have to do your job and you have to be accountable, or at some point you move on,” Horton said. “And we have failed the last three weeks. I don't care how you say the game went, the defense was on the field and we talk about being accountable and we talk about being the backbone of the team. Well, you can't do that. You don't do that.”

Pat McManamon

ESPN Cleveland Browns reporter

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