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Rebounding is key for Cleveland Browns, Brian Hoyer

BEREA, Ohio -- Ben Tate summed up the Cleveland Browns loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars this way: "It's a bad game. It's gonna happen, and it happened. You just wipe your hands off and move on to Oakland."

Brian Hoyer was more blunt.

"We sucked," he said. "It sucks to admit it."

There will be no arguments on either point.

But as Hoyer and the Browns move on, a team that desperately wants to win and a quarterback who enjoys his job have to understand the importance of the next two games. At home. Against the winless Oakland Raiders and the one-win Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Win both and the Browns are 5-3 heading to a Thursday night game in Cincinnati.

But if they lose both, it's not tough to read the signposts. At a minimum, the chatter and drama about the rookie with the No. 2 on his jersey will grow.

Hoyer still has the backing of his coach, who said nothing has changed with the quarterback, that Hoyer "is still firmly [the] starter."

"We're not going to hit the panic button because of one loss," Mike Pettine said.

Like everyone, Hoyer had a bad game in North Florida. He admitted as much when he said watching it as a team was probably as bad as watching it live.

But losing changes the prism of how a game is viewed, and how players are viewed. Two weeks ago Hoyer led the greatest road comeback in NFL history. One week ago he was praised for soundly beating the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Browns and their fans were enjoying the vague scent of a possibly successful season.

A week later and suddenly Hoyer has had two sub .500 completion games in a row.

Perspective really is an amazing thing.

The truth? Somewhere in the middle. The Browns have won two and lost two close games. They've won one by a large margin and lost one that way. That reality would put them right where they are, a .500 team with a 3-3 record.

Almost every team this side of the 1972 Dolphins has one clunker a season. It wasn't too long ago that folks were ripping Tom Brady after a bad game. How's that look now?

The Browns, though, do not have Brady's track record or history. They are a team trying to prove they are different from the past six, which all lost at least 10 games a season.

Jacksonville was a chance to show growth and maturity.

It didn't happen.

"The good thing that came out of that game," said receiver Miles Austin, "is that we can correct it."

Good teams overcome bad games and move on. Bad teams let them linger -- as has happened so often in the Browns recent past -- and the negatives multiply.

How the Browns -- and Hoyer -- rebound against Oakland will answer much about how the rest of the season progresses.