Browns can't let Bengals loss linger

November, 20, 2013
11/20/13
3:35
PM ET
The Browns acted like it Sunday and Monday.

Wednesday, they admitted it.

[+] EnlargeJoe Haden and A.J. Green
Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY SportsIt took Joe Haden, right, and the Browns a couple of days to recover from a loss to the Bengals.
"That one hurt," said wide receiver Davone Bess.

He referred, of course, to the loss Sunday in Cincinnati. A two-week buildup made the game far more important than it really was, but in win-starved Cleveland even a game that can get the team to .500 10 games into the season matters more than usual.

So the players contributed to the buildup, talking about finally being able to play a game in November that mattered. It meant something to the team, in part because it meant something to the fans.

"It's been a long time around here since a game mattered at this point of the season," Bess said.

Which leads to this week, when the Browns will play the Steelers in Cleveland. A win keeps faint hope alive, but a loss gives the Browns seven losses with five games left.

So the Browns' most important task this week might be to right themselves, since they spent a couple days sounding like they had to talk themselves into the fact there was something left to play for after losing to Cincinnati.

"I was hard on myself Sunday night and Monday," quarterback Jason Campbell said. "I was really hurt by the outcome of the game. It was a game I thought we had a chance to win and put ourselves in a really good position."

But the thing is there's another game Sunday, and if the Browns can figure a way to win and follow with a win over Jacksonville they could be .500 with four games left.

Asking a player how he bounces back from a loss always seems odd. They play another game; it's what they do. And it's not like they lost their job or house the way some people do. They lost a game.

That being said, if a loss lingers longer than it should it can affect the next game. The Browns have perfected that practice the past 13 or 14 years.

And if a team that is striving to reach a certain level invests too much into one game and then loses said game, it can linger longer.

It's something the Browns can't afford if they really hope to prove something this season.

At 4-6, there is virtually no margin for error.

Pat McManamon

ESPN Cleveland Browns reporter

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