CLEVELAND — There was a noticeable exodus of Cleveland Browns fans from FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland during the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 31-15 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the home finale for the 2019 season.
When the Ravens took a 24-9 lead on a Justin Tucker field goal with 11:32 to play in the fourth quarter, large groups of Browns fans headed to the exits for their trips home after watching what became the team’s fourth defeat on home turf this season, and those on the sideline took notice.
“It is disappointing for me to lose period,” Browns coach Freddie Kitchens said. “They make that decision, whether it is there or not, and I can’t control that. Would they have come back in if we would have done something at the end? I do not know.
“We had a chance to cut it to seven, and we did not do it. I do not know. Our guys were doing all they could to get back into the game, and I think we did get back into the game. We could have cut it by seven. We did not make the play to do that, and then, could not get off the field on third down on the last drive.”
The Browns started the year with a three-game losing streak at home, as they suffered a 30-point setback against the Tennessee Titans in the season opener and followed it up with losses to NFC West powerhouses in the Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks.
In the loss to the Seahawks, the Browns surrendered a lead 20-6 lead, and just as they did late in the first half against the Ravens, gave up a score in the second quarter that turned the tide for good.
After rattling off a four-game winning streak at FirstEnergy Stadium, the Browns gave up a lead to the Ravens late in the second quarter and never recovered.
“Anytime you close the season at home with a loss, it is not a great taste to leave with, but it leaves us with a lot of room to work and improve,” quarterback Baker Mayfield said. “That is just the bottom line. There is a lot of room for improvement and progress to be made. That is how we have to handle it.”
Regardless of what happens in the offseason, from coaching and roster standpoints, those on the field know well that there were plenty of chances for the Browns to break what has become a 17-year playoff drought, but failed to do so because of inconsistencies.
“We set the bar high for ourselves,” Mayfield said. “Our expectations were extremely high, and we didn’t meet that, so that is the most disappointing thing. In the bigger picture and mindset, it is a process to turn around what this once was to where we want to go and where we should be at right now. It is a process and there is a lot of room for improvement and progress to be made.”
Kitchens added, “Things happen during the course of the game -- ups and downs. You have to be able to overcome the downs and convert on the ups to create them into seven points. We just did not do that enough.
“We had opportunities to make some plays and we just did not do it.”