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CLEVELAND (AP) - The Browns have hired Buffalo defensive coordinator Mike Pettine as their coach, ending a twisting, nearly four-week search.

Pettine finalized a contract Thursday with the Browns, who fired Rob Chudzinski on Dec. 29 following one season. The 47-year-old Pettine, the son of a legendary Pennsylvania high school coach, spent one year with the Bills after four as Rex Ryan's defensive coordinator with the New York Jets.

Bills head coach Doug Marrone issued this statement Thursday: "I want to take this opportunity to congratulate Mike on becoming the Browns new head coach and thank him for all of his time and efforts with our team this past season. He did an excellent job of improving our defense and we wish him the best."

"We have a plan in place and we will introduce our new Defensive Coordinator after our final decision has been made."

With his clean-shaven head and no-nonsense approach, Pettine is popular with players. He'll inherit a Cleveland team that went 4-12 this season after losing its last seven games.

Pettine emerged as the favorite to become Cleveland's seventh full-time coach since 1999 - and fourth in six years - as the Browns eliminated candidates and Denver offensive coordinator Adam Gase, considered the front-runner when the search started, told the team to move on without him.