Miscues cost Browns
CLEVELAND – There will be huge new video scoreboards at First Energy Stadium for the 2014 season.
The next phase in the remodeling project should be the Browns so that fans can have something worth watching on those scoreboards.
Receiver Josh Gordon was a human highlight film, but the same can’t be said for the rest of the Browns, who lost the lead four times in losing to the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars, 32-28, Sunday at First Energy Stadium.
Gordon became the first player in NFL history to record back-to-back games of 200-plus receiving yards while adding a pair of touchdowns, but if wasn’t enough as the Browns lost for the third straight time and sixth time in the last seven games.
Quarterback Brandon Weeden was booed early and often, and he fueled the discontent with a pair of second-quarter interceptions and a fumble that led to 13 points. The defense broke down time after time. Cornerback Joe Haden made the biggest blunder when he was beaten on a double move by Cecil Shorts, who caught the game-winning, 20-yard touchdown pass from Chad Henne with 40 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
“Disappointing, difficult loss,” Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said after the Browns slipped to 4-8. “We made too many critical mistakes we were not able to overcome. We won’t stand for losing. We’re going to get this fixed. It’s unacceptable. It’s not about the effort of the group. It’s about mistakes.
“This was a team loss. Everybody is accountable. Every area of the team can get better. We’ll stick together. They’re professionals, and they won’t give up. They didn’t give up today. I’m fully committed to getting this thing turned around and finishing our last four games and getting this thing on the right track.”
Weeden, starting in place of the injured Jason Campbell, completed 24-of-40 passes for 370 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Weeden was diagnosed with a concussion after the game and wasn’t available for comment.
Chudzinski said he never considered benching Weeden after the interceptions. It would have been a tall order for backup quarterback Alex Tanney, who was signed last Tuesday.
“A couple of days putting him in that situation, we were very limited in what we had in the package with him,” Chudzinski said. “Just felt that coming out in the second half that the guys had regrouped.”
Haden wasn’t the lone Browns to make a glaring mistake. Center Alex Mack’s shotgun snap to Weeden in the fourth quarter flew over the quarterback’s head and into the end zone. Weeden kicked the ball out of the end zone for a safety that gave the Jaguars a 22-21 lead.
“You’re fired up; you’re ready to explode,” Mack said of the play. “How am I going to hit this guy and the ball goes a little high. It’s an odd balance to play in a game. You want to be fired up and get after people, but at the same time you have to keep your cool enough to be able to do your job.”
Josh Scobee kicked a 25-yard field goal on the ensuing possession to extend the lead to 25-21.
Gordon, who had 10 receptions for 261 yards, put the Browns ahead on the first play of the next possession when he caught a pass from Weeden on a short hook, slipped a tackle attempt and ran nearly the length of the field for a 99-yard touchdown. Billy Cundiff’s point-after kick gave the Browns a 28-25 lead at the 3:55 mark of the fourth quarter.
The Jaguars promptly marched 80 yards on nine plays to score on Shorts’ touchdown reception.
“I was just thinking, when the ball comes, make a play,” said Shorts, who played at Collinwood High School and Mount Union College. “I was just focused. I wasn’t thinking about anything else but zoning in on that play that was happening at that moment.”
The second-quarter meltdown began after a 21-yard touchdown pass from Weeden to Gordon. The first interception, by Johnathan Cyprien gave the 3-9 Jaguars possession at the Browns’ 19. Running back Maurice Jones-Drew flipped an 8-yard touchdown pass to Marcedes Lewis while running to his right to tie the score at 14-14.
Weeden misfired on a pass for Greg Little on the first play of the Browns’ next possession. Dwayne Gratz intercepted the pass and returned it to the Browns’ 28. Scobee kicked a 44-yard field goal to give the Jaguars a 17-14 lead.
Weeden had the ball stripped from his grasp by Jason Babin on the Browns’ next possession. Sen’Derrick Marks picked up the ball and ran to the Cleveland 18 before falling to the ground with five seconds showing on the clock. Scobee’s 36-yard field goal stretched the Jaguars’ lead to 20-14 at halftime.
Chudzinski had no thoughts of running out the clock when the Jaguars scored after Cyprien’s interception.
“I thought we had enough time and actually put together a first down,” Chudzinski said. “I thought we’d get a chance to potentially get a field goal and have something there going on at the half. We’re going to be aggressive in those situations and give our guys a chance to be able to make plays.”
Willis McGahee scored on a 1-yard run as the Browns took a 7-0 lead. Henne completed an 18-yard touchdown pass to Clay Harbor to even the score at 7-7. Weeden threw a 4-yard scoring pass to Little early in the third period as the Browns took a 21-20 lead.
The Browns play at New England Sunday.