BEREA, Ohio -- With an extended weekend off to think about the state of the team, there are players within the Cleveland Browns' locker room who believe teammates quit during last week's 34-30 loss to the Denver Broncos.
In the aftermath of the Denver game, which Cleveland lost after giving up 21 fourth-quarter points, Browns running back Jamal Lewis was the first to bring up the subject of quitting. On Monday, as Cleveland began its week of preparation for next Monday's game against Buffalo, several players agreed with his sentiments.
"When you have a team like that that comes into our house and we're capable of beating them, that's the first thing that comes to mind,'' wide receiver Josh Cribbs said Monday. "We can't figure out what man, but that's what it looked like -- some guys quit. ... We know if everybody didn't quit, we would have won that ballgame.''
The Browns became just the fifth team in NFL history to lose back-to-back games after holding a second-half lead of at least 13 points. Cleveland gave up three touchdown passes in the fourth quarter to Denver last Thursday, just four days after allowing 24 unanswered points to the Baltimore Ravens.
At 3-6, Cleveland is a long shot for a playoff berth. That may be why Lewis, a nine-year veteran who is rarely outspoken, decided to lash out about his teammates. He also said last week that some teammates "need to check their egos at the door."
"[Lewis'] input is very valuable to this team,'' Browns linebacker and team captain Andra Davis said. "So if he says something like that, then guys really need to check their egos."
Cleveland came into the season with playoff hopes. There are veterans on the roster who have won a Super Bowl, such as Lewis with the Ravens and linebacker Willie McGinest with the New England Patriots, but there is also a lot of young players who have never won consistently in the NFL.
Cribbs said he hopes Lewis' words resonate within the locker room and spark a run during the second half of the season.
"He goes out there and busts his tail every day, every game, and I do the same,'' Cribbs said of Lewis. "It hurts when people don't do the same and don't show the same will and don't show the same fire and desire for winning.
"It's a shame sometimes, but we just have to pull together as a team and weed out those guys and play the rest of the season out."
James Walker covers the AFC North for ESPN.com.