Josh Gordon electrified the home crowd, but a sloppy performance by quarterback Brandon Weeden and a late defensive breakdown cost Cleveland a game that was within their reach.
Final Analysis for the Cleveland Browns
Pass Offense: There was a scary moment when Josh Gordon had his helmet knocked off in the third quarter and was taken into the locker room for concussion protocol.
He returned late in the third quarter and finished a spectacular Sunday with 10 receptions for 261 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Gordon broke his own franchise record from last week and his second touchdown went for 95 yards. He’s the only player in NFL history to have back-to-back 200-yard receiving games. One word to describe No. 12: elite.
The day got stranger at FirstEnergy Stadium as the usually reliable center Alex Mack snapped the ball over Weeden’s head and into the end zone for a safety, which gave Jacksonville a 22-21 fourth-quarter lead.
Overall Weeden completed 24 of his 40 passes for 360 yards with three touchdowns, two interceptions and lost a fumble. The sophomore quarterback could not deliver a game-winning drive with 40 seconds left and remains winless as a starter in 2013.
Run Offense: This was Cleveland’s most balanced play-calling of the season. The Browns stuck with the running game as Willis McGahee, Chris Ogbonnaya and Fozzy Whittaker all got touches, totaling 30 carries. McGahee showed he still has some power left in those old legs as he ran for 57 yards and a long of 11.
Pass Defense: Cleveland had to respect the play action, which gave Jacksonville’s anemic passing attack some life. Quarterback Chad Henne was pressured consistently and wasn’t allowed to get comfortable. The defense recorded two sacks on the day, but none in the second half. Six throws were deflected, while pass coverage from Buster Skrine and Joe Haden (one interception) was phenomenal as the top Jaguars receiver totaled just 67 yards. Haden got burned for the second week in a row on a deep pass for a score and that came with 40 seconds left in the fourth, which gave Jacksonville the win.
Run Defense: The Browns struggled to stop any of the Jacksonville rushers, and that went a long way in keeping the Jaguars in the ballgame. Maurice Jones-Drew rumbled for 77 yards on the afternoon.
Special Teams: Billy Cundiff missed a 53-yard field goal that would have given Cleveland a four-point lead. Cundiff had made 11 consecutive kicks prior to that attempt. The Browns coverage units were steady all afternoon, which was impressive considering the amount of injuries their special teams unit has suffered.
Coaching: Norv Turner called his most balanced game of 2013. It shows how even a moderately successful running game can greatly assist the pass. That is, of course, if your quarterback doesn’t turn the ball over three times. After the second-quarter meltdown the Browns reverted to more conservative throws and were selective when heaving it downfield.
|Positional Unit||First-Half Grade||Final Grade|
Week 13 vs. Jaguars
First-Half Analysis for the Cleveland Browns
Pass Offense: Quarterback Brandon Weeden went for it on his very first throw and completed a 42-yard heave to Josh Gordon. Jacksonville’s inexperienced secondary is exactly what a gunslinger like Weeden needed to break out of his epic slump.
Weeden got a little too brave in whipping the ball around and was intercepted late in the second quarter, which resulted in a Jacksonville touchdown. On the next Browns possession we saw another Weeden interception. Somehow it got worst as Weeden had the ball stripped in the last minute of the second quarter. The Jaguars recovered and kicked a field goal with five seconds remaining. A strong first half by Weeden was wiped out by those three turnovers, which resulted in 13 points.
Gordon broke the 1,000-yard receiving mark on his first catch of the contest and became the first Brown to break that plateau since Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow did it in 2007. It was an incredible first half for Gordon, who had six receptions for 125 yards and a touchdown.
Following an impressive catch early on, Jordan Cameron dropped several passes. One was behind him, but another simply went off his fingers. The tight end continues to struggle to find any sort of momentum.
Run Offense: The Browns break a 19-game streak where they didn’t score on their opening drive thanks to Willis McGahee pounding it in for a one-yard touchdown. That was just Cleveland’s second rushing score this season and both came courtesy of McGahee.
The efficiency on the ground this afternoon is precisely what Cleveland has been looking for. Steady production from McGahee, Fozzy Whittaker and Chris Ogbonnaya resulted in a total of 36 yards. McGahee led the way with 16 yards on four carries.
Pass Defense: Chad Henne was held to short passes for the most part, but the run helped to set up a well executed touchdown toss to Clay Harbor on the Jaguars second possession. Joe Haden picked off a gift pass from Henne that was intended for Cecil Shorts and he now has four interceptions in his past four games.
After not recording a sack for nine consecutive quarters, the Browns got to the quarterback twice over the first 30 minutes. Ahtyba Rubin and Jabaal Sheard are credited with the takedowns.
Run Defense: Jacksonville wisely stayed away from their inept passing attack and found success on the ground. The Jaguars mixed in Maurice Jones-Drew, Jordan Todman and Ace Sanders to expose a suddenly futile Browns run defense. Rushes up the middle and around the edges both worked over the first two quarters. Jones-Drew was the leader with 51 yards on 12 carries.
Special Teams: Jordan Poyer provided a spark on the Browns first punt return of the day. The recently signed defensive back rumbled for 38 yards and gave Cleveland great opening field position. Browns kick and punt coverage units were solid as well.
Coaching: Offensive coordinator Norv Turner called a varied game that mixed in the run nicely (11 carries). It was nice to see some of the aggressive play-calling return as Weeden was not shy of going for big throws downfield.
Andy McNamara is an international sports broadcaster and journalist.
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