For the Browns, it’s important to finish 8-8
CHARLOTTE — With the Browns in the midst of a four-game losing streak, they don’t have much left to play for.
However, the players say there’s still a lot to prove.
"We have to find a way to finish this last week," Brian Hoyer said. "This means everything to us. (Offensive coordinator) Kyle (Shanahan) was telling us ‘It doesn’t matter if you’re in the playoffs or not, this is your job, you’re putting your reputation on the line every Sunday when you go out there’.
"We still have a chance to go 8-8," Hoyer said. "We have to go out and finish on a strong note."
Hoyer came in after Johnny Manziel injured his hamstring and rallied the Browns to a 13-10 lead after throwing an 81-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Cameron.
Karlos Dansby, who played in his first game in over a month led the Browns in tackles with 12. He also grabbed Cam Newton’s arm and Billy Winn was able to make an interception.
"It’s tough," Dansby said. "It’s a learning curve. We have a young team. The situations we’ve been in the last few weeks have been building blocks. We have to earn our stripes.
"We have a new head coach, we all are earning our stripes right now," Dansby said. "We’ll be better when we get in those situations again."
Mike Pettine said it has been difficult seeing the Browns go from 7-4 to 7-8.
"It’s frustrating, disappointing," Pettine said. "We got to seven wins and still had a lot of football left to play and we’re still stuck three. We had our chances today. We had our chances two weeks ago, but that’s what the NFL is all about.
"The difference between 10-6 and 6-10 is very marginal, so we’ve got to find a way to finish, find a way to win."
Hoyer said inconsistency has been the problem all season.
"You can’t put a word on it, what it is," Hoyer said. "There are times we played pretty well and times we were just too inconsistent."
Hoyer said despite having nothing at stake, he says it’s important to finish with a win against the Ravens.
"It’s a division game against Baltimore and we want to finish strong and not give up on the season."
The Grinch: Browns are now 3-18 in the month of December since 2010 and have lost 11 straight games in the month of December dating back to 2012.
The Browns last win in December was on Dec. 9, 2012 when they defeated the Chiefs 30-7.
The Browns assured themselves of not having a winning record with the loss to Carolina. A win next week at Baltimore will allow them to finish 8-8.
QB Day: QB Johnny Manziel finished just 3-of-8 for 32 yards and a 50.0 rating before he left the game with a hamstring injury. Manziel rushed twice for three yards.
QB Brian Hoyer, in relief of Manziel, was 7-of-13 for 134 yards with a touchdown, an interception and an 83.5 rating.
Hoyer also rushed twice for 19 yards. He was sacked three times, including one near the end of the game when the Browns had to use a time out.
Hoyer said he heard offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan tell him "You have to get up, there’s no one else."
No West, Gilbert: RB Terrance West did not play in the game and CB Justin Gilbert played very little.
Pettine said after the game there was a reason.
"Both Justin and I know the next question falling off is about Terrance (West), but neither of those guys had a very good week for us and that’s why you saw the lack of repetitions for them."
RB Isaiah Crowell carried the ball 16 times for 55 yards, including a long of 26 yards. QB Brian Hoyer was the second-leading rusher with 19 yards on two carries.
Cameron’s Day: WR Josh Gordon led the Browns with four catches for 45 yards, while TE Jordan Cameron had three catches for 88 yards, including an 81-yard touchdown.
"I was thinking on the pre-snap read that this could be a big play," Hoyer said. "As it turned out, it was."
WR Andrew Hawkins had just one catch for 28 yards.
Solomon’s Wisdom: LB Scott Solomon, who was just elevated from the practice squad had four tackles and the Browns only sack on QB Cam Newton.
Solomon was signed on Saturday when DB Tashaun Gipson was placed on injured reserve. Solomon also had a forced fumble and a quarterback hurry.
Desir Starts: DB Jordan Poyer was announced as the starter in place of CB Joe Haden (shoulder) over rookie CB Justin Gilbert, but it was rookie CB Pierre Desir who got the start.
"He had a good week of practice," Pettine said. "He played well last week when he got to play and we got some confidence in him."
Desir said he feels he’s making the most of his opportunity.
"I’m just going out there and playing me game and trying to put myself in the best position to make the play and help the team," Desir said.
Pettine said that CB Justin Gilbert didn’t have a very good week of practice.
WR Kelvin Benjamin had five receptions for 47 yards with Desir drawing him on most plays.
Hartley’s Debut: K Garrett Hartley made his debut with the Browns connecting on both of his field goal attempts from 43- and 31-yards, in addition to PAT.
Desir was credited with seven tackles.
Dansby Back: LB Karlos Dansby returned to the lineup after missing the past four games with a sprained knee suffered agasint the Texans.
Rubin’s 100th: DL Ahtyba Rubin played in his 100th NFL game against the Panthers. He injured his foot and did not return.
Dansby’s Return: LB Karlos Dansby returned after missing four games and led the Browns with 12 tackles, including a tackle for loss.
Dansby said he never thought of shutting down for the injury for the season.
"I’m trying to show these guys how to get better," he said. "I have too much pride, too much moxey to shut it down."
He also said he got his arms on QB Cam Newton that was intercepted by DL Billy Winn.
"I was talking to him the whole play, saying ‘I got you, I got you,’ and he just tried to throw the ball away."
No Playoffs: With the San Diego Chargers comeback overtime win over the 49ers late Saturday night, the Browns were officially eliminated from playoff contention.
Captains: OL Joel Bitonio, OL Mitchell Schwartz, DL Billy Winn and DL Desmond Bryant were the captains for the Browns.
Old Friends: Former Browns QB Derek Anderson and RB Fozzy Whittaker are on the Panthers. WR Philly Brown and OL Andrew Norwelll played at Ohio State. Former Browns QB Ken Dorsey is the Panther’s QB coach.