Hue Jackson: Josh McCown 'battled tail off' for Cleveland Browns

CLEVELAND -- Quarterback Josh McCown was hit hard and hit often in the Cleveland Browns’ 25-20 loss to the Baltimore Ravens at FirstEnergy Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

But no matter the ferocity of the hits, McCown kept getting up to lead his team, even despite having to go to the locker room for evaluation on his left shoulder in the first quarter.

“He is tough,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said. “There is no question he is tough. That is why he played in this league as long as he has. He is very tough. He knows how to make plays. He made some outstanding plays, and I am sure there are some he would like to have back, but that is the NFL at its best.”

In the losing effort, McCown completed 20 of his 33 throws for 260 yards with two touchdowns and a pair of interceptions for a quarterback rating of 80.4. One of those interceptions led to a field goal at the end of the first half and the second came on the Browns’ final offensive play of the game.

“I know everybody wants to say we just threw it up and it is on Josh,” Jackson said. “It is not on Josh. At the end of the day, he has obviously got to protect the ball better, but again, I know he was trying to make a play and I take responsibility for all that. The guy battled his tail off, and I know he played under a little duress from their defensive front. Also, he was battling a little injury, but he fought as hard as he could.”

The Browns came out firing on all cylinders against the Ravens, and scored on their first three possessions on the way to a 20-2 lead after the first quarter of play.

Rookie wide receiver Corey Coleman got things started when he hauled in a 31-yard touchdown pass from McCown and gave the Browns a 7-0 lead over the Ravens with 9:45 to play in the first quarter of the home opener.

Facing a third-and-10 after gaining back the 10 yards lost because of an offensive pass interference penalty, McCown took the shotgun snap from center Cameron Erving, dropped back in the pocket and lofted the pass deep down the left side of the field.

McCown and the Browns went three for three in third-down conversion attempts on the opening drive of the game, and in his first start in 10 months, the veteran quarterback completed three of his four throws for 67 yards with the touchdown.

Prior to the score, McCown completed a 28-yard pass to running back Duke Johnson Jr.

Following an 85-yard touchdown run from Isaiah Crowell, the Browns’ defense ratcheted up the pressure and forced an interception of Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco. Four plays later, they turned the miscue into a touchdown, as McCown completed an 11-yard pass to Coleman.

However, after the first quarter, the Browns had just 190 yards of total offense.

“I think Baltimore made some adjustments,” Jackson said. “We still had some chances. I thought we didn’t protect as well. It is something you always have to do, especially on third down when everybody probably knows you are throwing.

“We are not going to make excuses. We just have to get better. We are not where we have to be yet, and I am being very honest. That starts with me. That starts with all of us.  We get it. We have some work to do. I know one thing about that group, they are going to keep battling and they are going to fight, just like they did today. We will watch the tape, we will grow from it and we will get ready for Miami.”


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