BEREA, Ohio — The Cleveland Browns started slowly against the Arizona Cardinals in Sunday’s game and never got on track, offensively or defensively, on the way to a 38-24 loss at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, a setback that drastically reduced the chance of a playoff appearance.
Running back Kareem Hunt felt the Browns (6-8) waited until the Cardinals (4-9-1) started the game with touchdowns on three of their first five drives to try and find their rhythm, but were unable to chip away at the deficit.
“We pretty much waited for them to punch us,” Hunt said. “At halftime, we came out fighting and stuff like that, but you can’t wait that long. You’ve got to be ready as soon as the freakin’ kickoff starts. That’s what we’ve got to do. We can’t come out flat, and then, something makes us mad and everybody wants to start playing hard. We can’t wait for somebody to hit us to start playing hard.”
Hunt felt “there [were] some plays that everybody didn’t leave their 110% out there the whole play” against the Cardinals and knows that if the Browns want to remain in the playoff conversation, however slim the chances, a better effort will be required.
“You can’t just wake up one morning and say, ‘That’s how I’m going to have to start playing football,’” Hunt said. “I’ve been playing football like that since college, since Kansas City, now here. It’s got to be contagious to everybody. If we do that, usually good things happen if you’re playing with great effort. Shoot, you never know. The ball might fall in your lap if you run into it or anything like that. Good things happen.
“You can’t point out one person or nothing like that. It’s everybody, and everybody got to do their job.”
Throughout the season, the Browns have struggled to get consistent production from their playmakers, specifically wide receivers Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr., as well as an inconsistent workload for running back Nick Chubb.
And while Hunt did not go into specifics, he understands what needs to happen for the Browns’ offense to start clicking.
“We’ve all got to be on the same page and Nick’s doing a great job,” Hunt said. “The dude’s a freak and we’ve got to just play together as a team and let everything else take care of itself.
“We’ve got all the pieces and it’s just going out there and playing as a team and everybody playing hard each and every play and no taking plays off or nothing like that and just finishing. We’ve got to finish and we’ve got to come out strong, and that’s usually our thing. Usually, you get off to a hot start, and shoot, we wait for them to, they hit us in the mouth first.”
The Browns do not have much time to find themselves, not with the AFC North Division champion Baltimore Ravens coming to FirstEnergy Stadium still stinging from the Week 4 home loss to Cleveland and in need of a win to clinch home-field advantage for the AFC Playoffs.
“We want to gain momentum either carrying us late or for next season if it comes down to that, and it’s the Baltimore Ravens,” Hunt said.
“We ain’t really gotta say nothing. They’re going to come in here and try to stomp us after the first time we played them, so it’s either we’re going to fight back or we’re going to roll over, and I’m the type of person that’s going to fight back, so I hope we stay together and keep it going.”