CLEVELAND -- Despite rebuilding the front office and coaching staff, as well as overturning the roster and stockpiling rookies and other young players, the Cleveland Browns were expecting to be much further along in their rebuilding process by now.
However, the Browns dropped to 0-11 with a 24-9 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, and have extended their franchise-record losing streak to 14 games dating back to last December.
“It is tough because at this part of the season, there are some things I thought maybe we would start getting better at, and it looks like we are still not there yet,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said. “We will still have a ways to go, and I know that. I can see it.
“I am not going to let these guys get down. We have a big game next week here at home against New York. We have to continue to keep learning from this. There are just too many things that are still sticking around our football team that is not giving us a chance to do what I think we can do. We will keep going.”
The Browns looked to have ended the first half down by only six points after limiting the Steelers to a pair of field goals, but they were flagged for a pair of penalties, which gave Pittsburgh two untimed downs, and the aggressively minded coaches went after Cleveland.
On the second try, the Steelers got a one-yard touchdown from running back Le’Veon Bell and the subsequent two-point conversion.
“They probably just felt good about where they were defensively with our offense, and I think they felt like they were going to find a way to get the ball in,” Jackson said. “I think that is the aggressive nature of their coach. They are going to keep going to try to get the ball in, and they were able to do that.
“It was frustrating. Those are tough calls and one that was made that I thought that was kind of… It is what it is. We have to find a way to keep them out of there. That is what it comes down to.”
The veteran-laden Steelers showed their physical superiority over the much younger Browns and registered eight sacks in the lopsided win. Both Kessler and McCown absorbed the punishment of four sacks each.
Six players collected sacks against the Browns, led by the 2.5 from Stephon Tuitt, and Pittsburgh’s top two tacklers, Ryan Shazier and Lawrence Timmons, registered one each. Shazier added a forced fumble that was recovered by nose tackle Javon Hargrave in the end zone for a touchdown.
Prior to the win over the Browns, the Steelers had just 13 sacks on the entire season.
“It is extremely difficult,” Jackson said of remaining positive. “There is no question it is. I think we all get that, but I am going to keep changing hats, psychology hats, whatever hat I have to wear with this group as I told them. We are going to do this the right way. We are going to finish it the right way. We are going to play better.”