Browns' Horton says defense feeling pressure

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 19, 2013 at 5:26 pm •  Published: December 19, 2013
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BEREA, Ohio (AP) — The numbers in crunch time are appalling.

Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton, a statistical nut, can't stomach them.

In Cleveland's last three losses, the Browns' defense has given up 47 points in the fourth quarter. They've allowed eight scores — six touchdowns — in the last nine possessions while losing to Jacksonville, New England and Chicago. Those games were all winnable, but the Browns, who have given up 128 points in the fourth, couldn't make the plays when they needed to.

When they had to be their strongest, the Browns broke down.

Under pressure, they buckled.

"It's very disappointing," Horton said Thursday as the Browns prepared for this week's game against the New York Jets. "We talk to our players about it. You can not play well for three quarters and then come crunch time tighten up."

Horton has spent his first season in Cleveland building a defense he can be proud of. And while the Browns rank eighth overall in total defense — after finishing 23rd last season — and there are strong signs of progress, the team's inability to close out games has Horton scratching his head. This week, he's pushed his players to finish what they've started.

"We're talking about accountability," he said. "All of our games except for two are close or one-score games and we need somebody to step up and not take that backstep and say, 'I'm going to wait for somebody else to do it.' To me, that's been the biggest disappointment as our big-time players play well, but we also need our role players to do their role."

Horton's unit has been stretched thin by injuries, forcing him to make lineup changes and use some inexperienced players. However, Horton said the bottom line is that the Browns must protect leads and not let them melt away in the closing quarter.

"I don't want to use any kind of excuse or crutch to say we're young or this and that," he said. "It's not acceptable at this point in the season. You have to do your job and you have to be accountable or at some point you move on and we have failed the last three weeks. We talk about being the backbone of the team. Well, you can't do that. You don't do that."



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