When you lose games, coaches are trained to look for the positives in order to give players hope going into the next contest. For the Cleveland Browns, sitting at a bleak 1-3, getting that encouragement is crucial heading into a tough match-up this week against the Atlanta Falcons.
Coach Eric Mangini has likely told the team about how they are only a few plays away from being 2-2, 3-1, or even undefeated. The strange thing? That's not motivational lip service, but an actual fact.
Against Tampa Bay in week one, the Browns got out to a 14-3 lead before losing 17-14. The turning point for the game was a Jake Delhomme interception that set the Buccaneers up for a touchdown before the first half ended.
In week two, they lost a close one to the Kansas City Chiefs 16-14. An interception was the turning point in this one as well -- this one thrown by Seneca Wallace and returned for a touchdown, the only one that the Chiefs scored in the game.
The following week, the Browns lost to the Baltimore Ravens 24-17. They had the lead in the fourth quarter but were unable to hold on.
Last week, things finally seemed to come together for Cleveland. It would have been easy to let the defending division champion Cincinnati Bengals run over them, but instead the Browns got out to a 23-10 lead with 6:32 left in the third quarter thanks to another solid game by running back Peyton Hillis. This time it was the Browns making the big plays: Scott Fujita blocked a Cincinnati field goal attempt.
No matter how you look at it, the Browns are still a 1-3 team, last in the division. With Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons on deck for Sunday it will take the best game that Cleveland has to come out on top. Knowing they came within a few plays of victories will not be much of a consolation when they are 1-4.