It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t pretty, but the Browns found a way to get the job done.
“Everybody played their hearts out and it’s about time it went our way,” linebacker D’Qwell Jackson said in published reports. “We knew it was up to us. Right there. We had to make the play and we did.”
In typical Browns fashion, the team should have gone up 17-10 when Phil Dawson kicked a 38-yard field goal that was probably good but the refs ruled was a miss with 2:49 left in the game. Jacksonville then marched down the field all the way to the Browns 3-yard-line, where Jacksonville quarterback Blaine Gabbert’s third-down pass was incomplete as time expired, sealing the win.
“A lot of games come down to the last drive in the NFL,” said Browns coach Pat Shurmur. “That’s just the way it is. You stop them, you win. You kick your field goal or score your touchdown, you win. I think we were on the good end of it. I think as we move forward, and that’s what we’re doing, we’re moving forward into the second half of our year. As we move forward, we can try to build on this victory. I think that’s where we’re at.”
So how did the Browns hold up to pregame questions?
Can the Browns score a touchdown in the first quarter? Nope, still 0-10 on the year.
Can the Browns score a touchdown in the third quarter? Nope, still 0-10 on the year.
Can the Browns score a touchdown at home? Now we’re getting somewhere. Chris Ogbonnaya scored from the 1 in the second quarter and Josh Cribbs caught a 3-yard pass from Colt McCoy in the fourth.
“The play to Cribbs, he is my second read,” McCoy said. “The nickel-back played outside of Greg (Little) when he ran his route and so Josh has to win one-on-one in the end zone, and he did a nice job, and made a nice catch.”
Can the Browns stop the run? Cleveland held Jacksonville to just 3.7 yards per rush and limited Maurice Jones-Drew to 87 yards. They also stopped Jones-Drew twice inside the 5-yard-line on the final drive of the game.
Can the Browns move the ball against the Jaguars? The Browns had 334 yards and 20 first downs against the No. 4 defense in the NFL. In addition, Ogbonnaya had a career-best 115 yards (with a long run of 40) and a 5.5 yard per carry average against a solid run defense.
“It felt good. It was a good atmosphere,” Ogbonnaya said. “The fans are really nice in Cleveland. They really get into the game, regardless of what is going on. That definitely helps somebody like me as a running back. Once I get into a rhythm and get comfortable, you hear the energy of the crowd and that gives you a little more incentive to play well.”
Does the Browns offense and McCoy have the proper amount of “lust for the end zone?” Against the 5th-best pass defense in the league, McCoy spread the ball around to seven different receivers, with Greg Little catching a team-high 5 passes and Jordon Norwood pulling in a catch-and-run for 51 yards.
“Jordan has done a really nice job,” McCoy said. “He made some really nice catches for us today. He continues to grow each week. Jordan is a guy who is going to do the right thing every time. We run a lot of option-routes with him. He is really smart and the one big play that he had they blitzed off of the edge and that’s his choice. He can sit, he can go out, he can go in and he made a really nice play.”
So after all the injuries and the ups-and-downs of the season so far, the Browns find themselves one ridiculously botched kick from being at .500 after 10 games for the first time in what seems like forever. The team still has a very long way to go, but they are competitive against the teams they should be competitive with.
And, at least for one game, the offense shook off some of its problems and did enough to help the team pull out a win.
“The game isn’t over, especially with Browns football and the way things have been going for years (someone has been paying attention), we’ve got to keep playing,” Cribbs said. “It (the win) doesn’t take any pressure off, we still have to go. We still have to have the mentality that we are playing down and we have to keep on scoring. It seemed like that at the end. We didn’t make the field goal but we have to keep on scoring and have that scoring mentality every time we have the football.”
(Photo by The Associated Press)