By Brendan Ward
The Cleveland Browns brought a depleted defense to battle against the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday in Florida. For the first time in weeks clear weather was on the forecast for the Browns, as they were able to move the ball a little more in the passing game, combined with big fourth quarters from the rushing attack.
The defense failed to slow down the Jaguar offense as the Browns barely edged the Jaguars 27-25 after a failed two point conversion late in the fourth.
The Jaguars opened the game starting Mike Glennon at quarterback, his first start in the NFL since 2017. Glennon would connect with rookie receiver Laviska Shenault on his first pass of the game for 11 yards and a first down.
Despite moving the sticks quickly, the depleted Browns defense would stiffen up to force a punt three plays later after an illegal formation penalty halted the momentum of the Jaguars offense.
After being pinned back by the Logan Cooke punt, the Browns offense struggled to get anything going after Dawuane Smoot sacked Baker Mayfield on the opening play of the possession to start the sequence of a three and out for the Browns’ offense.
Winning the field position battle early, the Jaguars would take over at midfield following a 47 yard punt from Jamie Gillan. Two five yard runs from James Robinson put the Jaguars in business after a quick first down.
However, facing a third and nine from the 40, a false start penalty would push the Jaguars back. Glennon would find Tyler Eifert on the ensuing play short of the line to gain, forcing an Aldrick Rojas field goal to take a 3-0 lead.
Mayfield got the Browns’ offense going with the next possession, opening the drive with passes of 21, 14, and 11 to immediately give the Browns a first and goal situation from the nine yard line. After a four yard run from Nick Chubb, Mayfield would find Jarvis Landry in a tight window for his first touchdown of the season to give the Browns a 7-3 lead.
Following the score, the Jaguars put together a long eleven play drive into the second quarter to draw closer to the Browns. Robinson opened the possession with runs of 15. 13, and 4 to put the Jaguars into Browns territory. A 13 yard pass from Glennon to Collin Johnson followed by a 12 yard defensive pass interference call put the Jaguars in the redzone. However, the Browns defense would stiffen up to force a Rojas field goal.
The Browns put together their own long field goal drive to extend their lead to start their second quarter. A healthy dose of both passing from Mayfield and some big runs from Chubb put the Browns in first and goal from the five. However, a blunder from Mayfield on first down, missing a wide open Rashard Higgins for a touchdown halted all momentum sustained, as the Browns settlefor a field goal.
The Jaguars offense stayed hot on the ensuing drive, only needing five plays to take the lead from the Browns. After a 20 yard pass opened the possession, the Jaguars fought hard for another first down into Browns’ territory. On the next play, Glennon would throw a gorgeous pass to find Collin Johnson for a 46 yard connection to put the Jaguars up 13-10.
The rushing attack for the Browns got things started for the Browns on the next drive, before Kevin Stefanski turned to the play action for success. The Drive took only 8 plays, before Mayfield found Austin Hooper in the endzone for nine yards, putting the Browns back in the lead late in the half.
Glennon and the Jaguars offense took over with just over a minute until halftime, driving down the field with some success. Time became a factor after a couple big connections for Glennon. After a nine yard connection to Robinson put the Jaguars at the Cleveland 36 with five second left, Glennon would spike the ball to stop the clock for a field goal attempt. Rojas cocked back for the long 54 yarder, but missed way right to keep the Browns up 17-13 at the half.
Disaster struck for the Browns on the opening play on offense in the second half. Mayfield found Harrison Bryant wide open for 13 yards, but former Brown Joe Schobert forced the ball out on the play to give the Jaguars the ball at the Cleveland 30.
After the gift from Bryant, the Jaguars took advantage, taking only six plays to score. Robinson and Glennon combined to set the offense up with a second and goal from the two before Glennon found Tyler Eifert in the endzone to take a 19-17 lead after a failed two point attempt.
Chubb and Mayfield once again marched the offense down the field for the Browns after losing the lead. Despite some big plays from the duo, the Jaguars defense tightened up just before the Browns got into the redzone to force a field goal.
After taking the lead, the Browns defense finally stood tall near midfield to force a Jaguars punt. The punt would be the first punt forced by the Browns since the opening possession of the game.
The Browns began to pull away with their next possession, putting together an eight play scoring drive into the fourth quarter to extend their lead. Chubb opened the possession with runs of 13 and 29 to put the Browns in Jacksonville territory. Not to be outdone, Hunt would come in to spell Chubb and put together his own long run of 27 yards to give the Browns a first and goal. Three plays later Chubb found the endzone on a 1 yard option play to give the Browns a 27-19 lead.
After two quick first downs thanks to a 13 yard pass from Glennon and 13 yard run from Robinson, the Browns defense strangled the Jaguars offense to force a second straight punt.
The main objective was to bleed the clock with the lead in the fourth, doing just that behind the dynamic rushing duo on a long 10 play possession. Taking six and a half minutes off the clock the Browns rode Chubb and Hunt as far as they could, before the Jaguar defense got a stop on fourth and inches to force a turnover on downs near their own red zone.
The Jaguars still had hope only being down eight with over five minutes to go in the game. Robinson expounded on his big game, finding 27 yards on a second down play to gallop near midfield. Olivier Vernon seemingly ended the game on a fourth down sack three plays later, but would be flagged for leading with his helmet on the play.
Given new life, the Jaguars capitalized after facing a third and two from the four, with Robinson navigating his way to pay dirt to bring the deficit to two. Needing the conversion for the tie, head coach Doug Marrone dialed up a pass for Glennon, however the Browns defense would stretch Glennon to the sideline before Andrew Sendejo would jump in front of the pass intended for Johnson.
The Browns took over with over two minutes to go in the game after the Jaguars opted for a deep kick instead of an onside with their timeouts still intact.
The Browns got the game sealing first down after a three yard run from Chubb, however a holding penalty on JC Tretter called it back. Facing a third and 12 needing a first to keep the Jaguars from getting another chance, Mayfield delivered a short pass to Chubb, who ran for 13 yards and the first down to seal the 27-25 win. The Browns move to 8-3 on the season, guaranteeing the Browns will not have a losing record for the first time since 2007.
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