CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Browns dropped to 0-11 on the 2016 season with their 24-9 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers at FirstEnergy Stadium on Sunday afternoon, and as such, remain the only winless team in the National Football League.
But despite extending organizational marks for futility to start a season, 11 straight losses, and consecutive defeats, 14, which have dropped the franchise’s overall record below .500 for the first time ever, to some in uniform, the Browns have shown no quit.
“Nobody is quitting,” Browns tight end Gary Barnidge said. “You never see guys quit or give in. All we can do is just keep working. We just have to keep working. That’s all that we can do. We showed that we can hang with them in the first half. We just have to keep going and learn from it.”
In the 15-point loss to the Steelers, the Browns’ managed just 209 yards of total offense, four conversions in 15 third-down chances and gave up eight sacks of two quarterbacks, Cody Kessler and Josh McCown, the prior of whom exited the game with his second concussion of the season.
“If we want to win, we have to help our defense and score more points,” wide receiver Terrelle Pryor Sr. said. “Our defense played great. They kept them out of the end zone for a while, but we have to apply pressure and score points. That is how you win in this league, and that is how you beat the Steelers. We didn’t do that, and that is on us.”
According to Kirksey, a third-year professional who is among the NFL’s leaders in tackles during the regular season, for the Browns to right the ship and get a win in the next five weeks to avoid being only the second team in NFL history to go 0-16, they must remember they are athletes at the highest level of football.
And after suffering their third straight loss to the Steelers and 29th setback in 35 games against Pittsburgh since returning to the NFL in 1999, the Browns will have a chance to right the ship in next week’s matchup with the New York Giants.
“We’re blessed to be professional athletes,” Kirksey said. “This is our job. Whenever you are blessed with another week, you’ve got to put the past weeks behind you. You've got to start off fresh in your mind because if you harp on the past, it’s just going to overlap into the next week. As a professional athlete, a professional football player, you know you have to keep moving forward.
“We’ve got to keep it moving move onto the next week. You still want to keep a winning mindset. We’re just trying to get our first win. We’ve just got to keep working hard. We’ve got to keep giving it our all. We’ve got to stay positive. I know our season is nowhere close to what we wanted it to be, but we’ve got to keep fighting.”