Meadville Tribune

Sports

November 20, 2013

Browns trying to avoid hangover against Steelers

BEREA, Ohio — Browns quarterback Jason Campbell has learned that once Sunday’s over, Sunday’s over. Win or lose, good or bad, strong performance or forgettable one, there’s only one way to survive in the NFL.

“You’ve got to move on,” he said.

Cleveland can’t afford to dwell on its curious loss in Cincinnati. At least the Browns had better not. It’s Steelers Week, and that’s no time to lose focus.

Three days after their stranger-than-fiction loss to the Bengals, the Browns (4-6) began practicing for their bitter rival. They’re still searching for answers to what happened during the second quarter at Paul Brown Stadium. After taking a quick 13-0 lead, the Browns botched two punts, had a fumble returned for a touchdown and gave up 31 straight points in 15 minutes on the way to a disheartening 41-20 loss.

“You have games where everything just seems not to be going right for us and that’s just one of those games that happened on Sunday,” Campbell said. “The whole day was weird. Even the flight was weird. It was just one of those days that happened. You move on.”

Campbell threw three interceptions, an outing that partially erased the positive vibes he created with strong games in consecutive weeks against Kansas City and Baltimore. But the nine-year veteran never got into a rhythm against the Bengals and must now bounce back against the Steelers (4-6), who have recovered nicely from a 0-4 start.

Campbell knows the Browns have to block out any recent memories, painful as they may be.

“You can look at it two ways,” he said. “What happened Sunday is over. You can bounce back this Sunday and come out and play great, or you can continue to hang your hat on that and come out and be flat. I think with us being in the race right now at 4-6 with a lot of other teams, we need to put this one quickly behind us.”

Campbell’s right, of course. But there was a sense in Cleveland’s locker room Wednesday that the loss in Cleveland’s most significant game since 2007 is lingering.

“It was tough,” said wide receiver Davone Bess. “It’s been a while Cleveland had something to play for this late in the year, and we let slip through our hands. Give Cincinnati credit. They’re a good team. They won the game. The better team won on Sunday.”

To keep their playoff hopes alive, the Browns need much more from Campbell against the Steelers, who have won 11 of the last 14 games in Cleveland and are 24-5 vs. their AFC North neighbors since 1999.

This hasn’t been a real rivalry in years.

Making his third start this season, Campbell finished 27 of 56 for 248 yards with one TD and the three picks. Campbell said bruised ribs suffered two weeks earlier against the Ravens weren’t an issue. He offered no excuses.

Campbell knows the only way to distance himself from the poor game is to have a better one.

“You look around the league and you see guys that will play great three or four weeks and then they’ll have a rough one,” he said. “It’s all about bouncing back the next week. You can’t live in the past. Even in your life, you can’t live in the past. You’ve always got to look toward the future. Your past can help you, but if you hang onto it, it can hurt you.”

Campbell replayed the Bengals game in his head over 10 times, and it never got better. He spent two days being hard on himself, but is now looking ahead.

He has to.

“I really was hurt by the outcome because it was a game I felt like we had a chance to win and put ourselves in a really good position,” he said.  “And the fact that it didn’t happen, what can you do about it now but learn from it and move on. It was just one of those weird games, but it’s quickly got to be done and behind you.

“This is a new week, a new opportunity. If you can get on a streak here, you can look back at that game and say it made us a stronger and better team.”

Browns coach Rob Chudzinski has no doubt Campbell will bounce back.

“Just seeing him, being around him, knowing what he’s made of,” Chudzinski said. “Also, just looking at his past and all of the things that he’s battled back from, and he has the experience of doing that. That’s what really defines quarterbacks in this league, because they’re going to go through some rough stretches and some have some rough games.”

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