By Nate Ulrich
Beacon Journal sports writer
BEREA: Browns quarterback Jason Campbell blames an emotional hangover for his poor performance Sunday in a 38-31 loss to the Chicago Bears.
Campbell believes heartbreak from the Browns’ 27-26 defeat against the New England Patriots on Dec. 8 not only affected him a week later against the Bears, but also the entire team. Campbell completed 23-of-39 passes for 273 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions, posting a passer rating of 67.6 in the loss to the Bears.
The Browns (4-10) need him to psychologically rebound as he prepares for a road game Sunday against the New York Jets (6-8).
“The New England game, did it take a lot out of us as a team and individually? Honestly, yes, it did because guys left so much on the field and when you feel like the game is kind of taken or ended the way that it did, it just didn’t feel right, it didn’t sit right, and emotionally it changes your whole output going into next week’s game,” Campbell said Wednesday. “You try to say it won’t or it doesn’t, but human nature, it does.
“We had great practices that Thursday and Friday, but you never know when you get a big win like that, where does it send your team? And collectively, where do we go from there? It could have just sent us to a whole new level, but instead you’re just sitting there asking questions, the ‘ifs’ and the ‘why this?’ or ‘why that?’ instead of just focusing on that we really beat a great team in their home and we’re moving forward.”
Wide receiver Josh Gordon viewed the loss to the Patriots differently.
“It motivated me because we just wanted to show we can play with anybody in this league,” said Gordon, who had a quiet day against the Bears but still managed three catches for 67 yards and a touchdown. “A lot of people see the Patriots as contenders for the championship every year, so the fact that we go down to the wire with teams like that just goes to prove we can play with anybody.”
Maybe Campbell just has an especially difficult time coping with losses.
“I always take them hard,” Campbell said. “You just feel like you’re fighting and you feel like the guys are fighting and the effort’s there, and it’s just like, ‘Man, we’re right there.’ But for whatever reason, we can’t get that break late in games, and it’s hard because you just sit at home and you think about the time and hours we put in and this team wants to win and that’s what it’s all about.
“I think I put more pressure on myself because when I can be at my best, it really gives us more of an opportunity to win. I feel like when you have that great game and a minor setback, it bothers you a little bit. But at the same time, my competitive nature from the inside, I just want to be successful and take hold of the things that I can control.”
Campbell can control his ability to put past losses behind him and focus on the task at hand. He also lamented the wind at FirstEnergy Stadium creating difficult conditions in which to throw against the Bears, and he has cited the rib injury he suffered Nov. 3 against the Baltimore Ravens for hindering him in other losses.
The Browns are coming off another blown fourth-quarter lead against the Bears, windy, rainy conditions are being predicted for Sunday at MetLife Stadium and Campbell is probably still not 100 percent healthy. So the Browns desperately need him to put all those factors aside if they hope to finish strong.
“We’ve just got to keep fighting and understand that we’re building something and there were teams that had four wins last year or five wins last year, and a year later, they’re fighting for the playoffs,” Campbell said. “So when you’re in these situations, it can tell a lot about your character, your attitude and your team. You’ve been part of teams before where some guys try to pack it up and move and go home, and we’re not in that situation. We’re still trying to fight and move forward and improve collectively as a group. What you do now can pay dividends later.”
Joe Haden, the Browns’ No. 1 cornerback, did not practice Wednesday because of the hip pointer that knocked him out of the game against the Bears in the third quarter. Coach Rob Chudzinski described Haden’s status as “day to day.”
Starting tight end Jordan Cameron (concussion), starting left guard John Greco (knee), linebacker Eric Martin (illness) and tight end Andre Smith (calf) also sat out.
Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas (back) was among those who were limited in practice. Thomas was limited during two practices last week with the same injury.
Running back Willis McGahee returned to practice Wednesday and was limited. He has been medically cleared to play after suffering a concussion against the Patriots, Chudzinski said.
Starting right defensive end Desmond Bryant is doing well in his recovery from a cardiac ablation he had Dec. 6 to repair an irregular heartbeat, Chudzinski said.
“He’s doing fine, and he’s excited because, obviously, it was something that was on his mind and he was concerned about,” Chudzinski said. “But it’s past him now with that procedure being done. He’s expected to be back 100 percent and better than ever.”
Despite leading the league with 1,467 receiving yards, Gordon is still not among the top 10 wide receivers in Pro Bowl fan voting, which counts one third toward determining the rosters and ends at 6 p.m. Dec. 26 on NFL.com. Players and coaches will cast their votes Dec. 23-26. Chris Ogbonnaya is second among fullbacks (250,788 votes), Thomas is third among offensive tackles (167,597), Cameron is fourth among tight ends (394,082), T.J. Ward is sixth among strong safeties (75,098) and Haden is seventh among cornerbacks (210,676). … The NFL enlisted a panel of eight former coaches and general managers to compile a list of coaching and GM candidates with an emphasis on minorities. Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton is among those on the list, MondayMorningQuarterback.com reported. … The Browns wore shoulder pads during practice Wednesday for the first time since midseason. … The Miami Dolphins claimed cornerback Chris Owens off waivers Wednesday after the Browns cut him Tuesday. The Browns placed Owens on injured reserve after he suffered a sprained knee Dec. 1 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. … The Browns re-signed offensive lineman Jeremiah Warren to their practice squad, the team announced. … Chudzinski brought cigars into the media room before his news conference. They were meant to commemorate the birth of his fourth child and third son Monday morning.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Browns blog at http://www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook www.facebook.com/browns.abj.