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'We beat ourselves': Cleveland Browns' defense searching for answers following late-game meltdown against New York Jets

The secondary and pass rush struggled for most of the afternoon, and it finally caught up with them as a 13-point lead quickly evaporated in the final minutes.

CLEVELAND — The Browns had the game won.

Shortly after Nick Chubb barreled his way into the end zone for his third touchdown of the afternoon, fans began making their way toward the exits. Surely, a 30-17 lead with just 1:55 left was secure.

So, what happened?

"We beat ourselves," rookie cornerback Martin Emerson Jr. said following the team's stunning 31-30 loss to the New York Jets.

Indeed, that 13-point lead vanished in the blink of an eye, with New York (despite not having any timeouts) getting a 66-yard touchdown catch by Corey Davis, an onside kick recovery, and finally a 15-yard strike to Garrett Wilson with 22 seconds to go.

Game over. Browns lose. And once again, fingers are being pointed at a woeful defensive performance.

"[We] didn't play a 60-minute game," head coach Kevin Stefanski told reporters. "It is really frustrating — frustrating to me, to our players in that locker room, I am sure to our fans. It's not how we play."

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For the second week in a row, Cleveland let a game slip away in the fourth quarter. But unlike Week 1, Cade York wasn't able to bail them out.

Many of the same problems from last Sunday were again on full display, particularly in the secondary. Against Carolina, it was a 75-yard pass from Baker Mayfield to a wide-open Robbie Anderson that got the Panthers back into the game; against New York, Davis was all along as he took Joe Flacco's throw into the end zone, bringing the Jets to within six before they eventually got the ball back.

According to Stefanski, his defensive backs were "not on the same page" during the play.

"It was very, very clear what we were doing," he said. "We talked about it on the sideline before everybody went out, talked to the entire defense about what they were about to do, which was try and throw it over our head. We can't let that happen."

Stefanski didn't specifically point fingers at any one player, but replays showed Davis running by top cornerback Denzel Ward and catching the ball about 10 to 15 yards clear of any defender. Safeties Grant Delpit and John Johnson III were not back deep to help.

"When we don't do our job as one person, it's a reflection of the entire defense," Stefanski stated. "We've go to all be on the same page and really just all understand the moment of the game, having awareness of what is going on in the game."

Flacco, who made beating the Browns a tradition during his time with the Baltimore Ravens, looked like his vintage self with 307 yards and a touchdown. Emerson, the club's top pick in this year's draft (third round), got burned on the first score when Wilson juked him on his way to a 2-yard snag. Delpit got beat on the game-winner.

"We have to be better," Emerson said. "We have to play better as a team and finish the game out."

As the clock wound down on defeat, the fans who were remaining expressed their disgust with boos. That didn't sit well with everyone, particularly star defensive end Myles Garrett.

"These guys are still putting their [butts] on the line and playing as hard as they can, and they should be respected as such," Garrett, who had a sack but struggled in the second half along with the rest of the pass rush, said. "It's two games and we have plenty more to play, especially this next one coming up [Thursday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers] in front of the home crowd."

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