CLEVELAND -- After a modest two-game winning streak, the Cleveland Browns found themselves “in the hunt” for a spot in the AFC playoffs, but those hopes took a hit in the form of a 29-13 loss to the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium in Houston Sunday.

Although disappointed by the loss, rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield took positives from the setback, namely the way the Browns played in the second half despite being down by 23 points heading into the intermission.

“We were looking forward to this one,” Mayfield said. “It was a good challenge for us, our momentum that we were building on, but yeah, it’s frustrating because I had three interceptions, and that’s on me. That game does not reflect how close we actually were.

“Very close on a lot of things, and that’s the encouraging thing. We have to build on that. I have to get better, and I’ll handle that. There’s no doubt about that, but I want our guys to use this going forward as a positive thing.”

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Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) attempts a pass during the first quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium in Houston.
Troy Taormina

During the first half, Mayfield completed just five of his 13 attempts for 46 yards with the three interceptions, but he had a strong finish to the game.

Mayfield shook off the turnover-plagued first half during the break and finished the game 29 of 43 for 397 yards and one touchdown, a 17-yard scoring pass to wide receiver Rashard “Hollywood” Higgins late in the fourth quarter.

In the second half, Mayfield completed 24 of his 30 throws for 351 yards and the one touchdown without a turnover.

“I think if I take care of the ball, this game is very close,” Mayfield said.

“We have a great team to where we’re very close. We just lost to a team that’s won their ninth game in a row, and for us to be just talking about the little things that we’re off on against a team like that, that’s a positive way to look at it, and that’s the way we have to look at it. We’ve got to get better from this.”

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Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) throws a pass during the second quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium in Houston.
John Glaser

The loss dropped the Browns’ record to 4-7-1 with four games remaining in the 2018 regular season, and they find themselves with three fewer wins and two more setbacks than the Baltimore Ravens, who hold the final wildcard spot in the AFC.

But despite the playoff hopes slimming with the latest setback, the Browns remain confident they can close the gap over the final month of the 2018 regular season.

“Anything can happen,” Mayfield said. “We’ve got to take care of our business and put us in a good position to be there in the end.

“All we can take care of is what we’re doing and let the rest fall into pieces. Have to get better, use this, learn from it. That’s one of the better teams we’re going to play all year, so if we can use this as a positive thing and moving forward and getting better from that, that’ll be great.”

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