BEREA: Counting sheep didn’t work for Jabrill Peppers because he couldn’t stop thinking about Colts.

The Browns rookie free safety revealed Wednesday he couldn’t sleep for about two days because he missed a couple of plays in Sunday’s 31-28 loss to the Indianapolis Colts that could have changed the outcome of the game. He hopes to rebound Sunday when the Browns (0-3) host the Cincinnati Bengals (0-3).

“You just got to take it on the chin, don’t run from anything and just keep being better,” Peppers said. “I know I’ve got to play better. I don’t need anyone to tell me that.”

Coach Hue Jackson wants all of his players to become hell-bent to correct their mistakes.

“We want guys that it burns in their gut when things don’t happen the way they think it should,” Jackson said. “I guarantee you that won’t happen to [Peppers] very much more.”

One play haunts Peppers, a first-round draft pick, in particular: Colts three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver T.Y. Hilton’s 61-yard, catch-and-run touchdown with 5:14 left in the second quarter.

On third-and-6 at the Colts 39-yard line, Hilton motioned into the slot and shook the coverage of cornerback Jamar Taylor on a pick in traffic. Hilton then caught the ball at the 50 and ran long the sideline where wide receiver Quan Bray blocked cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun out of bounds at the 40.

Still, Peppers stood at the 36 with a clear shot to stop Hilton. But Peppers appeared to be frozen in his tracks as Hilton cut back. Then Peppers fell as Hilton accelerated and raced away to the end zone, allowing the Colts to go ahead 21-7.

“I thought I had people coming [to help make the tackle], and it kind of caught me off guard a little bit,” Peppers said. “The timing of it was just weird, and I didn’t slip. [I didn’t have] a cramp [but] like a little spasm when I was trying to burst to get him after he made his move. It just all looked bad.

“That’s my job to get that guy down. Even if they kick a field goal, that’s still a completely different game rather than having that big play. That’s on me. It is what it is. We can’t go back in time and change it. We just have to learn from it and keep improving, make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Peppers learned another harsh lesson with 3:25 left in the second quarter when he drew a flag for a 34-yard pass interference penalty.

Hilton lined up in the slot and ran untouched by middle linebacker Joe Schobert. Meanwhile, Peppers bit on a play-action fake by quarterback Jacoby Brissett, running toward the line of scrimmage before turning around and sprinting once he realized it was a pass. Peppers made up ground in plenty of time but ran right into Hilton at the 10. Two plays later, running back Frank Gore’s 4-yard rush gave the Colts a touchdown on their fourth consecutive possession and a 28-7 lead with 2:41 left in the first half.

“I ran to fill my gap. It was play action,” Peppers said. “I saw him running like wide open, so I just tried to run and match the route. I looked back, but I guess he kind of was running this way as I was looking back. Foot got tangled up, fell, PI.”

ProFootballFocus.com gave Peppers the second-worst coverage grade among Browns defenders in their loss to the Colts. The 25th overall pick, Peppers said the performance was humbling.

“But my first year at Michigan I faced some adversity as well,” Peppers said. “I wasn’t playing the way I like to and I got hurt. So I never ran from adversity, never ran from criticism. I just always rise to the occasion.

“I’m not going to be down on myself or lose confidence or anything like that. It’s part of the game. You’ve just got to come back and execute better and make the plays when you’re supposed to make the plays.”

Not only is Peppers adjusting to the NFL, but he’s also growing accustomed to playing about 25 yards deep in the role defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has labeled the “angel.” Williams employs Peppers there in an attempt to dissuade opponents from unleashing deep passes against the Browns.

“There’s always a play or two you wish you had back, but I think Jabrill has done more than what people expected he’d do back there,” Jackson said. “I think he’s done a good job. Obviously, he is probably more comfortable around the ball because that’s where he played [at Michigan], but I think he would tell you that he loves being back there seeing everything so he that he can react and get to it.”

Pepper insisted it doesn’t matter to him whether he plays close to the ball or deep.

“Everyone has an opportunity to make plays when they present themselves,” he said. “You’ve just got to make them. It’s not the spot. Football is football, man. I’m given the opportunity to do something I love doing and to prove myself. [Williams] trusts me enough to be back there. The team trusts me enough to be back there, so I’ve just got to make plays.”

The Browns are ranked 20th in the NFL in fewest passing yards allowed (233 per game) and have allowed some top-notch receivers to have monster games. Pittsburgh Steelers five-time Pro Bowler Antonio Brown had 11 catches on 11 targets for 182 yards in the opener, and Hilton had seven catches on nine targets for 153 yards and a touchdown in Week 3.

“We shoot ourselves in the foot so much,” Peppers said. “People watching don’t understand our scheme or how intricate the things that we’re doing are. So how it looks to the regular viewer is different than how it looks to us. We know it’s simple things that we’ve got to correct. Simple things turn into major gains, and you can’t have that.”

Now Bengals six-time Pro Bowler A.J. Green is coming to town after he had 10 catches for 111 yards and a touchdown on 13 targets Sunday in a 27-24 overtime loss to the Green Bay Packers.

“Great athlete, a bigger guy than [Hilton and Brown], but definitely give him the same amount of respect that we gave T.Y. and AB,” Peppers said. “We’ve just got to cover him up. We don’t fear anybody. Cover him and up and tackle well.”

Added Jackson: “We have to slow him down. It is just that simple.”

Nate Ulrich can be reached at nulrich@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the Browns blog at www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook www.facebook.com/abj.sports.