- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 14, 2011

BEREA, OHIO (AP) - There were 21 incompletions, some of them Colt McCoy’s fault. There was the first pass he caught after it was swatted in his face, and the final one that slipped out of his hand and was intercepted. There was also the one he threw in a panic toward center Alex Mack.

McCoy made mistakes, lots of them in Cleveland’s season opener. Only one thing, though, ticked him off.

“Losing,” he said.

He’s not used to it.

The Browns’ second-year quarterback ended his stellar career at Texas as the winningest quarterback in college history. The kid groomed to be a quarterback from almost the time he could walk, the one who has a book out called “Growing Up Colt,” is a Longhorns legend.

He’s 2-7 as an NFL starter.

On Sunday, McCoy lost his sixth straight start as the Browns were beaten 27-17 by the Cincinnati Bengals, who caught Cleveland’s defense napping with a quick-snap touchdown in the fourth quarter on a play you’d expect to see on a schoolyard playground, not in a 70,000-seat stadium.

The loss was shocking and disturbing for the Browns, who were hoping to begin first-year coach Pat Shurmur’s era on a positive note. Instead, it was mostly sour. The Browns committed 11 penalties, didn’t execute with the lead and failed to put away a Bengals team forced to start a rookie quarterback and then switch to his backup.

So winnable. So disappointing.

“Across the board, we’ve obviously got a lot of room for improvement,” McCoy said. “We learned a lot from that first game.”

McCoy’s first outing of 2011 was uneven _ at best. He completed just 19 of 40 passes for 213 yards, hardly the kind of numbers he or the Browns envisioned posting in their new West Coast offense Shurmur imported from St. Louis. McCoy wasn’t as accurate as needed, and he didn’t get much help as Cleveland’s receivers failed to get open.

McCoy accepted his share of the blame, and there was plenty to go around.

“I’ve got to make better throws, obviously,” he said. “I can play better. I think if you asked the receivers, each one of them will tell you they can play a lot better. There’s a lot of room for improvement. A lot of work to do. We put last week behind us and we know we can play better than that.”

The Browns will have to this Sunday in Indianapolis against Colts team determined to bounce back from their own hideous debut in Houston, a 34-7 loss to the Texans.

After McCoy played so soundly in eight starts as a rookie, the Browns hoped he would build off that success and become the quarterback to finally lead them from a darkened decade-plus of losing. McCoy may still be the answer for Cleveland, but his performance in Week 1 has cast some doubt on whether he’s ready to do it now.

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