Tampa, FL (Cleveland Plain Dealer) - Peyton Hillis was thrilled to get the start at running back Sunday and fired up when he ran for a 10-yard TD to put the Browns up, 14-3, in the second quarter. But the elation turned to disappointment when he committed a costly fumble in the third quarter that cost the Browns at least a field goal.
On first and 10 from the Bucs' 15, Hillis ran for a yard and then coughed up the ball.
"I guess it was a lack of concentration," said Hillis. "It doesn't need to happen. Especially a close game like it was today. It was my mistake and I need to get that fixed. I lost the ball and I've to fix that."
Hillis couldn't remember if the ball was ripped out or if he just lost it. He said the exchange with Jake Delhomme was fine.
"No matter if it was hit, or ripped out or I was falling down, that's my fault and I have to take care of that," he said. "Either way, I have to hold onto the ball and I've got to correct those mistakes. They trust me to put the ball in my hands and I didn't live up to what I needed to do on that play."
Hillis was overjoyed when he found out he was starting, getting the nod ahead of 2009 starter Jerome Harrison, who had 561 yards the final three games of last season. Hillis earned the starting nod after finishing second in both rushing (80) and receiving yards (86) in preseason.
"It's everything you've always wanted," said Hillis. "But you've got to go out there and respond better than what I did. You've got to convert better than what I did. I've got to get that stuff fixed coming into Kansas City next week."
Hillis is known for protecting the football. In 88 career carries, he's fumbled once. He was fumble-free in preseason.
"I guess this was my day where bad things happen," he said. "But good days will come."
Hillis caught a 16-yard pass on the opening play and caught four passes overall for 24 yards. He rushed for 41 yards on nine carries. Cashing in on great blocking by Eric Steinbach, who pulled left, Hillis skated in easily for his score.
"I just tried to do what I could do on that play," he said. "We had tremendous blocking. I don't think I got touched at the goal-line. But that was a great converted play and I need to respond and play like that more often."
Harrison, who gained 52 yards on nine carries -- including a 39-yard blast on the Hillis TD drive -- was diplomatic about not getting the start.
"No, it didn't bother me at all," he said. "I'll just keep working when my number's called and try to make plays."