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Jacksonville, FL (Sports Network) – David Garrard threw for 254 yards and two touchdowns and overcame three interceptions to lead Jacksonville over Cleveland, 24-20, at EverBank Field.
Jones-Drew also caught three passes for 87 yards and Marcedes Lewis hauled in five passes for 66 yards and a score. Garrard completed 20 of his 34 throws.
“Coming into the game we talked a lot about our need to be able to run the football and our need to be able stop the run,” said Browns head coach Eric Mangini. "We didn’t do either one of those very well.
“Defensively we made a lot of plays. We forced six turnovers but we couldn’t stop them when we needed to.”
Colt McCoy threw for 241 yards on 17-of-28 passing with a touchdown, but was intercepted with five seconds left. Peyton Hillis caught six passes for 95 yards and a score for Cleveland (3-7), which has lost two straight.
Hillis rushed for 48 yards on 21 carries and Abram Elam returned a fumble for a touchdown in defeat.
After Phil Dawson kicked a 41-yard field goal to put the Browns up 20-17, the Jaguars got the ball back with 2:46 remaining with a chance for the win.
They started the drive at their own 13-yard line, but on the third play, Garrard connected with Jones-Drew for a short screen pass that the running back took 75 yards to the Cleveland one. After Rashad Jennings failed to punch it in, Jones-Drew went up the middle to give Jacksonville the 24-20 lead with 1:16 left on the clock.
McCoy had the Browns marching in the final minute in the no-huddle offense, and worked the ball to the Jacksonville 29 with 13 seconds left. But his first-down pass was picked off by Sean Considine, allowing the Jaguars to run out the clock.
“I think this football team has a flair for the dramatic,” head coach Jack Del Rio said of his team. "Another exciting win at home.
“This is a huge win for us. Our guys showed a lot of resiliency and I am proud of the fortitude they showed out there. The game never got away from us because we responded, we held our ground and didn’t let (Cleveland) take those turnovers and bury us.”
Cleveland punted on the game’s opening drive, and after starting at their own 38, the Jaguars put together a seven-play drive that culminated in a 47-yard Josh Scobee field goal.
The Browns had the ball in the final minutes of the first quarter and extended their drive into the second. On a 2nd-and-1, McCoy dropped back into the pocket and initially avoided a sack. He was then hit by defensive end Larry Hart, but tossed a dump pass to Hillis as he fell, and Hillis ran 11 yards to the right pylon for the score.
The play capped a 16-play, 92-yard drive that took nearly 10 minutes off the clock.
Cleveland had a chance to extend its lead with 8:05 left in the half, but Dawson’s 51-yard field goal attempt went wide right.
Garrard hit Mike Thomas for a five-yard score in the final minute of the half to cap a 13-play, 68 yard drive. Jacksonville held the 10-7 advantage heading to the locker room.
The Jaguars got the ball a few minutes into the third quarter after a Browns punt. But on the first play from scrimmage, Elam stripped Jones-Drew on a run up the middle, and the Cleveland safety took the ball 18 yards for the score.
It was the second turnover caused by Elam, who also picked off a Jones-Drew pass on an option play in the second quarter.
Garrard threw an interception on Jacksonville’s next two possessions, and Dawson added a 38-yard field goal off the second turnover to extend the Browns lead to 17-10 heading to the fourth.
Dawson missed a 51-yard field goal with under 10 minutes left to give Jacksonville the ball back at its own 41.
The Jaguars then evened the game with 3:34 left. Following Dawson’s miss, Jacksonville advanced to the Cleveland 14 before Garrard connected with Lewis in the middle of the end zone for the receiver’s eighth TD of the season.
Jones-Drew has rushed for 100 or more yards in three consecutive games for the first time in his career…Jacksonville has won nine of the last 13 meetings…The Jaguars committed six turnovers, compared to one for Cleveland…Jacksonville was without wide receiver Mike Sims-Walker (ankle)…The Jaguars led at the half for the third straight game, all wins…Jacksonville was 3-for-3 in red zone opportunities; Cleveland 1- for-3…Thomas finished with five catches for 36 yards for the Jaguars.
A team said to be rebuilding is actually contending.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are doing more with less; and they aren’t the only go-getters out there. There are several worthy candidates for the surprise team of the year, including the 5-4 Raiders, the 5-4 Chiefs, the 6-3 Chicago Bears, the 6-3 Buccaneers, along with the 5-4 Jaguars. These teams have came out of nowhere, proving they can contend with the big guns.
Although admitting that if the Texans' Glover Quinn actually batted the game’s final pass down instead of what he ended up doing, then Mike Thomas doesn’t make a marvelous 50-yard catch for the game’s final score at the end of regulation, and perhaps the Jaguars fall to 4-5; looking dramatically different than 4-5.
But good teams catch breaks. And the Jags have had plenty of those this year.
Jacksonville was a mediocre 7-9 last season, and were said to be at the bottom of the AFC South. But with their five wins, they are right in the thick of things. They certainly don’t pack the offensive punch that the Colts or Titans do, but they have a few things going their way. They are sixth in the NFL in rushing behind former second round pick Maurice Jones-Drew. The power back isn’t finding the endzone as much this season as compared to previous years, with only three rushing touchdowns, but field general David Garrard has really improved his game. He has dramatically improved in the red zone, and is using the deep pass more often to lead the team with 15 aerial touchdown strikes. Only halfway through the season, that number ties his record from the previous two years.
Though ranked 28th in total defense, they have a number of exposed weaknesses that surely the Browns could exploit. It didn’t used to be that way; they haven’t been able to muster the same kind of wall in the middle of ex-Jags John Henderson and Jag Marcus Stroud. Since the loss of the two largest human beings I’ve ever seen, they’ve been in the NFL pass rush cellar. And the loss of Aaron Kampman doesn’t help at all.
I really could not tell you why Jacksonville has been as successful as they have been this season. But I must acknowledge the fact that they have only beaten one winning team, the Colts (wins against Buffalo, Denver, and Dallas really aren’t that impressive) but they know Peyton Manning as well as anyone in the NFL. They have made big plays when it counts, and taken care of business at home.
It wasn’t long ago in which these two teams clashed. In Week 17 of 2009, the Browns ran the ball right down the Jaguars’ throats for 214 yards. Jacksonville, at the time, had little to play for, but this time, stakes will be higher and ever play becomes more critical. They have four of their final six games on the road, and play four of the league’s best teams.
What do you get when you lose four games by over 20 points, have one of the NFL's worst defenses and quite possibly could be playing for a lame-duck head coach? A team right in the think of the AFC playoff race. That's exactly what the Jacksonville Jaguars are and at 5-4, with the Browns coming to town, they feel they are very much alive in the AFC South.
Coming off one of the biggest wins in franchise history last week against the Houston Texans, the Jaguars are trying to build momentum for the stretch drive. The Jags have already beaten the Colts this season and know they need to pile up as many wins as possible against team they feel they are better than.
As for the Browns, they will look to bounce back from a tough loss to the Jets in the final minute of overtime last Sunday.
While the Browns have come on as of late, the Jaguars have been up and down all season. When they have lost, they have looked awful, being outscored by 99 points in their 4 losses. Of course, get them in a close game, and they usually find a way to pull it out.
The Jags are led by Maurice Jones-Drew who has started to get going with two straight 100-yard games. He also scored two touchdowns against the Texans.
The Browns have some injury concerns coming into the game as well. Scott Fujita has already been ruled out of the game with a knee injury, and Josh Cribbs is battling broken toes and is a big question mark.