HC Kevin Stefanski (1.17.21)

Head Coach Kevin Stefanski:

Opening statement: 

“Injury wise, (T) Jedrick Wills (Jr.) has an ankle injury, (DE) Myles (Garrett) has an oblique injury and (T) Kendall Lamm has an elbow injury. Obviously, we will get more information on those tomorrow.

“I am extremely disappointed that we were not able to get the job done today. We had our opportunity there late in that ball game, and we did not do it. We are going to share in this defeat like we share in those victories, and it hurts. There is a finality to this one when you do not get it done in the playoffs, and that really hurts. I appreciate how our guys battled. They fought like they do every single week, and it just was not enough today.”

On if he was surprised by Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid’s decision to go for it on fourth down at the end of the game: 

“They have been very aggressive in a lot of those moments so that did not surprise me. Us getting a stop there, we would be set up so there is risk involved in their decision, but they trusted their guys and they made a play. Our defense put us in position many times in that game – holding them to a field that they missed there after the interception and getting an interception in the end zone there. Again, we are going to win as a team and lose as a team.

On if he considered going for it on fourth-and-9 on the Browns’ final drive: 

“No, that was just probably too long there at that distance. If it was tighter, without a doubt.”

On WR Rashard Higgins’ fumble for a touchback and if he thought Chiefs S Daniel Sorensen led with his head on the hit and should have been a penalty:

“Honestly, I did not see the replay. I was told about it, but I will let the league handle those types of things.”  

On Higgins reaching the ball out at the goal line on the fumble: 

“I will never ever doubt Rashard Higgins’ effort or our guys’ effort. Our rule there is not to reach the ball out when it is first and goal, and he knows that. Again, appreciate his effort. He battled like he always does, but we have to fight that urge because it is such a big loss if it does end up being a touchback.”

On factors into the team making uncharacteristic mistakes during today’s game, particularly in the first half: 

“We talked about that at halftime. We had three drives for three points [in the first half], a bunch of drops, penalties, bad play calls and all of it. It just was not good enough. You can’t come in here and ultimately score 17 points and get a win versus this team. That first half, I do not think that was a clean operation like we ask for.”

On reflecting on what the Browns were able to accomplish this season: 

“I will reflect later. Right now, it stings when you do not get the job done that you came to get done.”

On how much he talks with Browns players about not reaching the ball out at the goal line in that situation: 

“Let me be very, very clear: Rashard Higgins is a warrior. He has battled all season long. He has done everything that I have asked him to do from the moment we get together in July. I am never going to doubt that kid’s effort. He is a team player all the way. An unfortunate play, and he understands the rule and I understand the rule. We will continue to coach our guys, but Rashard Higgins, I am proud to coach him because he gives you everything he has.”

On if it is a difficult situation for a player when trying to get to the pylon however possible but a touchback can be the consequence if he fumbles: 

“That is what the rule is.”

On if he watched the replay of Sorensen’s hit on Higgins: 

“I have not seen the replay. Again, I will leave those things to the league.”

On the significance of the momentum swing of Higgins’ fumble: 

“There were a bunch of moments in that game that did not go our way that need to in order to win on the road versus Super Bowl champs. Obviously, our goal there was to double-dip – get a touchdown and then come back and play well in the first drive of the second half. We really did not do either so that is disappointing from an offensive standpoint. That is where I point the finger at me and say, ‘What can I do better there?’”

On how this game shows the Browns’ ability to compete with the best teams in the NFL:

“Just in talking to the team, it stings. We came here to win, and we did not get it done. There is a finality to that. We are going to be one of 31 teams that did not get it done. There is only one that does each season. That is where we are going to measure ourselves. Ultimately, that is what our charge is. We want to be the last team standing, and we were not. To say where we are in that whole group, I do not know. I know we did not get our job done today.”

On coming back from a 19-3 deficit and being down one-possession to the defending Super Bowl champions in the fourth quarter:

“I am proud of this team. We have a bunch of fighters. We knew that we were going to have to weather the storm and we knew it was going to be close. In that close moment, we had to go take it, and we did not get it done. Again, we will share in that defeat, and it hurts. I feel for our guys because they battled. They fought, and I am not surprised because they have done it all season long.”

On Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes leaving the game due to a concussion:

“Obviously, I was very sorry to see him get hurt. I hope that he clears and is better very quickly. He is a great player, a great ambassador for this league. You do not want to see anybody get hurt in those moments. That is a really good football team. We knew that going into it. They are deep really across the board. They have great players, and I really respect (Chiefs Head) Coach (Andy) Reid, his staff and what they have been able to build there.”

On only having one timeout late in the game and the decision to challenge late in the game and not challenging one earlier:

“All of those decisions, that is on me. I should have been better there. There is a cost to those when you do lose those because you lose a timeout. That is on me.”

On taking a timeout on the team’s final drive:

“Miscommunication. Unfortunate, and that ultimately is on me.

On how DE Myles Garrett’s oblique inhibited Garrett during the game and how Garrett battled through the injury:

“I do not know ultimately – I have not had a chance to talk to him. I knew of the injury and I knew he was in and out. I do not know how much it inhibited him, but obviously, some that we were not able to have him on there for every play. Myles has battled for us. He has battled through injuries all season long so not surprised he was battling through this one.”

On Mayfield’s performance and Mayfield helping the Browns rally to within one score:

“He fought like he always does. He rallied. I do not think I put him in enough good spots there. The offense in general, I do not think we put them in enough good spots, but he was ready to go help us win that game. That is what he has done all season long steering this ship, being out in front and leading this group. I am proud of him. Ultimately, we know that we did not get the job done so there is a huge amount of disappointment in that, but I appreciate how he battles.”

# # #