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Christian Kirksey: Cleveland Browns 'going to keep fighting' despite mounting losses

This year's Cleveland Browns say they are not the "Same Old Browns," and they are out to prove it by fighting through struggles that find them in fourth place in the AFC North Division standings.
Credit: Ken Blaze
Linebacker Christian Kirksey is confident the Cleveland Browns are "going to keep fighting" through the struggles that find them in fourth place in the AFC North Division standings.

CLEVELAND -- After a promising start to the 2018 regular season, the Cleveland Browns have fallen on some hard times, as they have come up on the wrong end of the scoreboard in their last three outings, which has dropped them to fourth place in the AFC North Division.

Despite being two games in back of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens and three behind the Cincinnati Bengals in the win column, the Browns (2-5-1) plan on tightening the AFC North Division race with their three remaining divisional games over the final nine weeks of the season.

“This team’s got fight and we’re going to keep fighting and just see what we can do,” linebacker Christian Kirksey said following Sunday’s 33-18 loss to the Steelers at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.

Browns coach Hue Jackson added, “Still up. Still up. Frustrated. Mad. Don’t like to lose like that, but this team will stick together and keep fighting.”

The most frustrating part for the Browns was knowing how they played the Steelers in a 21-21 tie in the 2018 regular-season opener at FirstEnergy Stadium last month, and then, struggling to stop Pittsburgh’s key players over the final three quarters of Sunday’s loss.

“It was a chance for us, again, to make a mark in the AFC North,” Jackson said. “As I told the team last night, we have a chance. We beat Baltimore already. We’ve tied this team before, and coming in here and winning a game would be huge.

“Here was a chance for us to take another step. I thought our guys started to get that, but as it kept going, we knew it was going to get tougher. Seems like we didn’t go grab what I think we had a chance to go grab.”

Credit: Charles LeClaire
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) passes against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first quarter at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.

The key for the Browns moving forward is taking the lessons learned from Sunday’s loss to the Steelers and applying them ahead of back-to-back home games against the Kansas City Chiefs and Atlanta Falcons to end the pre-bye week portion of the schedule.

“Obviously, very frustrating, but we’ve got to learn from the situations we’ve been in,” quarterback Baker Mayfield said. “We have to learn from the mistakes we’ve had. We got outplayed. We have a better team than we showed, and we have to do that every Sunday. We’ve got to go to work and get back to it.”

Credit: Charles LeClaire
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry (80) is tackled after a catch against Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Mike Hilton (28) during the second quarter at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.

The Browns do not have much time to dwell on the loss to the Steelers, not with one of the league’s highest-powered offenses, in the AFC West Division-leading Chiefs (7-1), coming to FirstEnergy Stadium Sunday.

“We’ve got to move to the next game,” Kirksey said. “We can’t live in the past. The game’s over.”

Offensive lineman Joel Bitonio added, “Obviously, lost a few in a row now and it sucks. We’re definitely not down. It’s frustrating, for sure. We wanted to come out, especially against Pittsburgh, we wanted to come out and play a division opponent well and they beat us pretty good.

“We’ve just got to regroup. It’s only half the season. We’re eight games in. We’ve got eight games left. We’ve got a couple home games coming up against good teams, but we’ve got to turn the page. We’ve got to do what we can and find a way to win.”

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