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Brian Hoyer on Browns: 'We got our butts kicked'

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With a chance to notch a 4-2 record for the first time since 2001, Brian Hoyer and the Browns laid a massive egg on the sunlit grasses at EverBank Field.

Cleveland couldn't block, couldn't run and couldn't stop the run against the previously winless Jacksonville Jaguars.

"We got our butts kicked," Hoyer said after the 24-6 defeat, per The Plain Dealer. "You have to give credit where credit is due. Their defense, I talked about it all week long, probably could have been the toughest defense we were going against. They handed it to us and we just couldn't get anything going. Offensively, we played definitely our worst game so far."

It starts up front, where the loss of Pro Bowl center Alex Mack exposed Cleveland's line, especially on the right side, where guard John Greco -- moving into Mack's center spot -- was replaced by journeyman Paul McQuistan. The NFL's third-best ground game coming in was held to just 69 yards on 30 carries.

"I said early in the week that this is the best defense we've played and everyone kind of snickered like. 'He's just trying to pump 'em up,' " said left tackle Joe Thomas. "Seriously, this is the best defense we've played so far. They sell out to stop the run. They've got great safeties that play in the box. They've got one of the best linebackers in the NFL (Paul Posluszny) and a tremendous front. We knew it was going to be very hard to run the ball. That really hurts our offense."

The pass protection -- a wall through five games -- was equally abused for three sacks and seven quarterback hits. Hoyer spent Sunday throwing on the run to ghosts, triggering the worst completion percentage (39.0) by a Browns passer with 40-plus attempts in a game since Bernie Kosar in 1989 (36.6).

Injuries have battered Cleveland up front on both lines, but every team deals with setbacks. Sunday was a gut-check contest for the Browns, and they crumbled. After five outings that suggested the club had shed its image as a longtime punching bag, losing with such verve raises questions.

How they respond at home on Sunday against another winless team -- the Raiders -- will tell us whether their fast start was for real, or just another mirage from a franchise still wandering the abyss.

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