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With no margin for error, Browns take one game at a time

Two weeks ago, the Browns shocked the Saints in New Orleans, only seven days before the Saints upended the Steelers on the same field.  On Sunday, the Browns welcomed the Patriots to town and handed them a 20-point loss.

And so the Browns are now one of the hottest teams in the NFL.  But with a 3-5 record in the top-heavy AFC, the Browns may have to run the table to make it to the playoffs.  (Even if they do, an 11-5 finish wasn’t good enough to get the Patriots to the postseason in 2008, and 10-6 left the Browns on the outside looking in the prior year.)

The Browns aren’t paying attention to any of that, at least not according to their coach.

“We never talk about the record,” Eric Mangini told PFT Sunday night.  “That part we can’t do anything about.  We can do something about the next team we’re facing.  It’s a solitary focus.  Forget about the long term.  We’re getting closer to that approach.  After winning in New Orleans, we weren’t talking about New Orleans.  We had the win we enjoyed it, we had good days of practice during the bye week.  Then we focused on this week.”

Mangini witnessed the importance of a week-at-a-time focus in 2008, when a great start fizzled down the stretch.

“I didn’t do a very good job when were 8-3,” Mangini said.  “There was so much talk about a New York Super Bowl.  I kept trying to explain to them and show examples of what can go wrong.  We had a team that wasn’t used to winning that much early, we were entering the lightest part of the schedule, and we were coming off two big wins.  We’re good enough where we can’t just show up and play.  Every win makes the next opponent show up and play harder.  We weren’t mature enough to handle it.”

Having a strong presence of guys who have gotten it done elsewhere has helped the Browns develop a one-at-a-time focus.

“[Linebacker] Scott Fujita has been good about reinforcing that message too.  He understands it as well as anybody.  [Tight end] Ben Watson spoke to the team [Saturday night].  He brought that same thing up.  He’s gone through years of that conditioning.  ‘It’s just this game.  The last win was nice.’  You get guys like that speaking like that and soon everybody’s speaking like that.”

Mangini summed it up this way:  “When you think you’ve arrived, you haven’t arrived.”

The next chance to get closer to actually arriving comes on Sunday, when the Jets come to town.  The same team that Mangini coached for three years before being fired after that 8-3 record in 2008 melted into a 9-7 finish, with no postseason.  The same team now coached by Rex Ryan, identical twin of Browns defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.

As to the Ryans, Mangini called it a “battle for bragging rights at the dinner table.”

“They’re not afraid to talk a little junk,” Mangini said.  “You don’t want to be at that dinner table after the game.”

Actually, some would say you never want to be at that dinner table, at any time.

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40 Responses to “With no margin for error, Browns take one game at a time”
  1. magician300 says: Nov 8, 2010 10:32 AM

    If the Browns can steal this game too that would be a hell of an impressive 3-game winning streak.

  2. ArtModellsPimp says: Nov 8, 2010 10:37 AM

    To the rest of the AFC North…
    The CLEVELAND BROWNS are for real.
    And your smackdown is coming.
    Deal with it.

  3. clevefan4life says: Nov 8, 2010 10:40 AM

    Loving what Mangini and co. has brought to Cleveland. Yesterday was the most impressive victory since we came back. I was at the game and there was a buzz before the game that we could beat them. It’s a welcomed feeling for all us Browns fans.

  4. Zaggs says: Nov 8, 2010 10:46 AM

    They are a scrappy little team. Kinda like the Chiefs. Would love to see them smack up the Jets.

  5. Cornell Steelers says: Nov 8, 2010 10:50 AM

    Yeah, that was some smackdown the Clowns laid on the Steelers a couple weeks ago. LOL! However, I appreciate the fact that Cleveland is trying to make it easier for us to get that #1 seed. Just beat the Jets next week and the Ravens in December, and roll over for us in Week 17(as if you weren’t going to do that anyway).

  6. somesome says: Nov 8, 2010 10:50 AM

    Good for the Browns and good for football … the more relevant teams in the AFC North – the better.

  7. blastfurniss says: Nov 8, 2010 10:53 AM

    It’s sad as hard as this team plays for Mangini that he has to deal with the constant speculation about his job. I like Holmgren but Mike should have kept his mouth shut about his desire to coach.
    The Browns now have an offensive identity, offer an unpredictable defense and solid special teams. If they don’t choke in 4th quarter against KC and TB they are 5-3. Colt McCoy already reads defenses better than Sanchez so I think they have a legit shot against the Jets this week.

  8. Audient says: Nov 8, 2010 10:54 AM

    I was at the game, too. It was fitting that Browns alumni Kevin Mack and Eric Metcalf were present and honored during the pregame — because this game felt like the Browns teams that they used to play for. I don’t think I’ve felt this positive about the Browns since Mack and Metcalf wore the orange and brown.

  9. DRex says: Nov 8, 2010 10:55 AM

    Jets fan here rooting for Mangini and Rob.
    Cleveland should get Holmgren back out of the mix and just leave the team to Mangini and Rob Ryan because they’ll have things going well.
    Jets do match up well against Cleveland though. Gonna be a tough game but the Jets are excellent at stopping the run and Cleveland doesn’t have the talent necessary to succeed without having the run.

  10. PFTiswhatitis says: Nov 8, 2010 11:03 AM

    Lisaten to the Brownies getting all up about being 3-5!

  11. Laxer37 says: Nov 8, 2010 11:06 AM

    There’s no shock how the Browns have strung two nice wins together. The Saints and Pats turned the ball over at an alarming rate.
    Hillis ran for 144 against the Ravens and they still lost a close game because they didn’t get the turnovers. The Steelers held Hillis to 69 yards and won by three scores because they didn’t get the turnovers.

  12. Barius Maximus says: Nov 8, 2010 11:06 AM

    Maybe Holmgren wasn’t talking about coaching your Brownies, maybe he was talking about coaching them Cowboys. “How ’bout Them Cowboys?” Oh what a great year it is.

  13. steelersmichele says: Nov 8, 2010 11:08 AM

    I was really happy for the Browns yesterday. I know they are in my division (and make things more difficult for my team), but it was nice to see them beat the Patriots the way that they did.

  14. ManBearPig51 says: Nov 8, 2010 11:17 AM

    After the Bucs beat the Browns everyone said “the Bucs haven’t beaten any good teams” and now the same writer who said that thinks the Browns are a good team. Eat sh*t Florio

  15. BRownsFanHAAA says: Nov 8, 2010 11:20 AM

    I hope Braylon enjoys his welcome next week…hes had his one big play of the month and he was always soo good at dropping passes when he was in Cleveland Browns Stadium.

  16. somesome says: Nov 8, 2010 11:21 AM

    Cornell Steelers says:
    November 8, 2010 10:50 AM
    Yeah, that was some smackdown the Clowns laid on the Steelers a couple weeks ago. LOL! However, I appreciate the fact that Cleveland is trying to make it easier for us to get that #1 seed. Just beat the Jets next week and the Ravens in December, and roll over for us in Week 17(as if you weren’t going to do that anyway).
    … and the Steelers need all the help they can get to make the play offs this year… as tonights game has no impact on the AFC North standings … LOL

  17. hitwjk says: Nov 8, 2010 11:27 AM

    If youre at that dinner table, keep your hands close, unless you want a Ryan Family feeding frenzy, of course, they could stand to miss 1 meal.

  18. jbraider says: Nov 8, 2010 11:31 AM

    Glad for the Brown’s resurgence. Just wish they could have got their act together in time to knock off the stinkin’ Chefs

  19. K-FIZZLE says: Nov 8, 2010 11:33 AM

    As a die hard Steeler fan, I have got to say that the Browns look very impressive. I think Colt McCoy is going to be a good QB in this league. I was impressed with his first start against the Steelers. I also have to say, that if I were forced to wear a jersey of an AFC North foe for a day, but got to pick which one that I had to wear, I would sport a Peyton Hillis jersey with pride. That dude is a BEAST! I love watching that guy play. I’d love to see the Browns/Steelers rivalry come back to life. It would also be great if the Ratbirds that stole your team, would go back to the AFC North cellar…

  20. anomaly76 says: Nov 8, 2010 12:03 PM

    I’m a lifelong Browns fan also, but I’m not gonna start talking the kind of trash that you guys are.
    Dont get me wrong, those were 2 EXCELLENT wins.
    But we still have a LONG way to go to compete for this division. McCoy is coming along faster than I thought he would, but he still has some serious growing pains in his future. We need to consistently stop the run, and continue running the ball well. Then maybe Colt can continue to flourish.
    A couple more good drafts, and keep things pointed in the right direction, maybe we see a wild card in 2012.

  21. burgh1414 says: Nov 8, 2010 12:21 PM

    Nice win for the Browns!
    I wonder if Cribbs will be getting fined for that Hines Ward type block on Colt’s TD run.

  22. ppdoc13 says: Nov 8, 2010 12:21 PM

    It’s still the Browns, it’s still Mangina. Love all the Browns fans talking major trash (not anomaly76) about being 3-5. What a freaking laugh. Same as always. Given a ray of sunshine the Browns fans will start booking their tickets to the Superbowl.

  23. realitypolice says: Nov 8, 2010 12:22 PM

    Unlike other teams, who often take two or even three games at a time.

  24. alewatcher says: Nov 8, 2010 12:34 PM

    blastfurniss says: November 8, 2010 10:53 AM
    It’s sad as hard as this team plays for Mangini that he has to deal with the constant speculation about his job. I like Holmgren but Mike should have kept his mouth shut about his desire to coach.
    Totally agree. Mangini has the team moving in the right direction, and his guys play hard for him every week. Holmgren has been a good replacement for the previous GM, and now that Mangini has had a chance to do some house cleaning, it’s time to let him coach without his boss chomping at the bit to fire him so he can take over.

  25. TheNaturalMevs says: Nov 8, 2010 1:14 PM

    Yeah, one game at a time Eric.
    Mangini is still a crap coach. And what about last year at this time when him and Kokinis were both screwing Erin O’ Brien who worked in the front office? Eric was the only one to survive in the wake of that.
    No one knows yet, except this commenter, what a scumbag Mangini really is. So what he beat the Saints and Pats. Give me a break. Guy shouldn’t be here right now and there are plenty of coaches who would have this Browns squad better than 3-5 and would have started McCoy from the beginning (Mangini didn’t think McCoy was an NFL caliber QB up until a few weeks ago).
    Screw Eric Mangini. At his best if he gets time he’ll win 10 or 11 games. He will never be a guy who gets you to or wins you a Super Bowl.

  26. In & Out Burger says: Nov 8, 2010 1:19 PM

    I hope the Browns do well. Realistically, I don’t see them winning more than 8 games, but even that might be enough. If they do well enough that Mangini won’t get fired, Holmgren could leave to come coach my 49ers, the job that he has always wanted.

  27. SayWhat? says: Nov 8, 2010 1:28 PM

    ppdoc13 says: “Love all the Browns fans talking major trash (not anomaly76) about being 3-5. What a freaking laugh.”
    Ask the Patriots and the Saints how funny it is. The Browns are likely not a playoff team unless they turn things around drastically. But they have the full attention of of their opponents, no matter who they are. That is something.

  28. sonvar says: Nov 8, 2010 1:29 PM

    I like how you forget to mention a few 9-7 AFC teams making wild card spots last year(Jets, Ravens). Every year is different even at this point I still thinks it’s hard to say what records will be.

  29. habibfromnewdehli says: Nov 8, 2010 1:41 PM

    The Browns aren’t bad. ESPECIALLY now that they have “gotten rid” of Delhomme, and are starting Colt McCoy.
    But Cleveland fans… please don’t go crazy. You already had your chance to take the Ravens and Steelers by surprise. Ravens got Peyton Hillis’s best shot, they had no idea who he was… just like the rest of the entire league. But even Terrell Suggs said after the game… “I know who he is now.”
    You won’t be sneaking up on your own divisional opponents the 2nd time you meet them. It’s good that you’re winning games, but you won’t be battling for the division this year.
    Cleveland will DEFINITELY be playing spoiler and smashing playoff chances for many AFC teams since the race for wildcard is going to be tight. But one thing is for certain, both the Ravens and Steelers are happy you gave the Patriots another loss.

  30. robsterNY says: Nov 8, 2010 2:08 PM

    Great game by the Browns…Im a Jet fan and always liked Mangini…This will be a good one!

  31. Black QB White RB says: Nov 8, 2010 2:14 PM

    they all hated Mangini not so long ago………..
    like Deion and michael irvin said, there’s a cologne called winning in the NFL, masks a lot of stink………
    This was the first time I watched a browns game in a long time, and I was thrilled to see Peyton Hillis is WHITE!!!!! how bout that!!
    now when he gets in trouble, I wanna see Tom Jackson stick up for him like he does with McNabb. Just sayin’………..

  32. Audient says: Nov 8, 2010 2:17 PM

    Not to get all Jim Mora, but, pl-playoffs?
    C’mon, I’m a Browns fan, and I’m NOT talking playoffs.
    I’m just enjoying watching some good football for a change.
    I’m with K-Fizzle, as much as I can be with any Stllr fan, I’m all for restoring the oldest rivalry in the AFC to its rightful place of greatness.
    Ratbird rivalry? That team’s very existence profanes the NFL and the AFC North.

  33. TouchdownRoddyWhite says: Nov 8, 2010 2:31 PM

    Beyond Cleveland showing what they can do with an early lead, what I took away from the Pats game was New England is over rated. The Pats have only beat one team with a winning record, and now have lost to a team with a losing record for good measure. They are mediocre at best, and when a guy that used to be a full back runs on you for 180 yards, you might want to evaluate some things.
    I’d go as far as to say that Cleveland is better than NE. Clevelands last two wins came over teams with a combined record of 12-5 while all 6 of New Englands wins came from teams with a combined 19-28. Clevelands losses however have come from a run through teams with a combined record of 21-10. Cleveland has beat more teams with a winning record than NE, has played more teams with a winning record, and is ranked 10 spots higher in total defense this season. Facts are facts, and the facts support the notion that Cleveland is just better or equal in pretty much every position but QB. It’ll be interesting to see this team grow a bit more, that’s for sure.

  34. steelcitychamps82 says: Nov 8, 2010 3:21 PM

    Hillis is a good back but, he only ran for 41 against the Steelers there buddy. Get your stats right. Just because the browns had 63 yards rushing doesn’t mean Hillis had them all lol.

  35. olskool711 says: Nov 8, 2010 3:49 PM

    The Browns are still 3 years away.
    Will Colt’s arm get stronger?
    Need a #1 WR and a young TE
    Need some good young talent on Defense.
    Still, its refreshing to see.

  36. JJMADDOG says: Nov 8, 2010 8:11 PM

    Browns fan here, When the Browns play the Jets next week, the play I will be waiting for is that first ball that Braylon drops. The stadium will go nuts, and I will piss myself. I don’t care who wins, just wanna see Mr Michigan return to his usual ways in Cleveland Brown Stadium.
    On a another note, What a stupid trade the Broncos made sending Hillis and draft picks for Brady Quinn. Whoever set that one up for Cleveland is OK in my book.

  37. Muck Fodell says: Nov 8, 2010 9:11 PM

    @Cornhole Steeler
    Remember the last trip Sh!tsburgh took to Cleveland in 2009?
    Eight sacks of Raplisberger and a physical beatdown. And that was from a 1-11 Browns team with Brady Quinn at the helm.
    The Brownies hung tough this year in that 70,000 seat trailer park you call Heinz Field. And did it with a rookie qb starting his first game.
    Get ready hillbilly. And mark January 2, 2011 on your calendar. I only pray that there is something on the line to play for. Maybe not for us at 3-5. But I am sure for you clowns it will mean something.
    These aren’t the same old Browns. You’ll find out soon enough.
    Be ready for your @ss-whipping…

  38. Cleveland Dave says: Nov 8, 2010 9:54 PM

    I’m not even thinking about the playoffs. Anything is possible, so I won’t rule it out, but they’d almost have to run the table to have a decent shot. It would be one hell of a feat.
    So I’ll simply take solace in the apparent fact that the team is improving and certainly heading in the right direction. In this stage, it’s not so much about W’s and L’s as it is being consistently competitive. Hell, the team is facing a murder’s row schedule, and still carrying leads into the 4th quarter of just about every game. That says something. It says that they still can’t close consistently, but at least they’re there. Vast improvement over recent years.
    With another solid draft, things could get pretty interesting on the north coast once again.

  39. Audient says: Nov 9, 2010 5:33 AM

    Browns fans, think about before the season started. What were your expectations for this year? Playoffs? No. What we wanted was to see improvement and competitiveness. Yes. We’re seeing that now. The team is improving. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. And let’s not assume that a loss is a setback. Teams are going to study the film and adjust to what the Browns have been doing. But the Browns are playing harder, better, more effectively than they have in a long time. Mangini’s call that the team take it one game at a time is exactly the right approach. Keep up the good work!

  40. Duan says: Nov 9, 2010 10:16 AM

    @ Cornell Steelers says:
    November 8, 2010 10:50 AM
    Yeah, that was some smackdown the Clowns laid on the Steelers a couple weeks ago. LOL! However, I appreciate the fact that Cleveland is trying to make it easier for us to get that #1 seed. Just beat the Jets next week and the Ravens in December, and roll over for us in Week 17(as if you weren’t going to do that anyway).
    Slow it down fella, granted you guys are playing at home, but you think you guys are going to just up and rollover the Patriots, just because the Browns did?
    Bill Belicheck is not going to lose two in a row!? I am looking forward to this game, because this is a possible playoff match-up. Big Ben holds on to the ball too long and you guys almost paid for it last night!!!!!!!

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