New Orleans: The Browns were just a kick away.

Well, maybe a few kicks, not to mention a defensive penalty that revived a New Orleans touchdown drive, as well as an interception that set up another Saints score in the waning minutes.

Even with all those critical, untimely mistakes, Cleveland could have forced overtime if Zane Gonzalez had managed to compartmentalise an earlier missed field goal — and two missed extra points — when he lined up for a 52-yard attempt in the final seconds.

Gonzalez pushed it wide, and the Browns fell 21-18 in New Orleans to extend their winless streak to 19 games.

Yet the performance also demonstrated how close Cleveland is to breaking back into the win column.

“Our players, as I told them afterward, ‘There is a good team in that (locker) room,’” Browns coach Hue Jackson said. “There is no doubt in my mind about that.

“We’ve just got to make sure we are doing the right things all of the time to give us a chance.”