Jaguars-Browns Preview

Maurice Jones-Drew carried the Jacksonville Jaguars to their

first road win in nearly a year with a gritty performance last

week.

The disgruntled Cleveland Browns found themselves on the verge

of victory before a last-second blunder became the latest chapter

in their season-long struggles.

The visiting Jaguars look to build on their impressive effort

while the Browns try to avoid a fourth consecutive defeat

Sunday.

Jacksonville (3-6), which had been outscored 157-81 in dropping

six straight as the visiting team dating to last season, snapped

its road woes with a 17-3 victory over winless Indianapolis last

Sunday.

Jones-Drew carried the ball 25 times for 114 yards and scored

with 3:52 remaining to secure the win.

“There was just sheer will and desire and passion, just laying

it on the line for his teammates,” coach Jack Del Rio said.

Jones-Drew, who ranks fourth in the league with 854 rushing

yards, has been the lone bright spot on a hapless Jaguars offense

averaging 12.8 points – just ahead of NFL-worst St. Louis’ mark of

12.6.

Blaine Gabbert completed 14 of 21 passes for 118 yards with a

touchdown and an interception. The rookie quarterback, who has

thrown for over 200 yards just once in seven starts, has no qualms

in letting Jones-Drew lead the way.

“He’s the best running back in the NFL in my eyes,” Gabbert

said. “Whenever he gets on a roll like that, and he’s getting 6

yards a pop, we’re going to lean on him.”

While Cleveland (3-6) has allowed a league-low 163.3 passing

yards per game, it’s surrendered 568 rushing yards – the most in

the NFL since Oct. 30 – during its season-worst three-game

skid.

The Browns (3-6) have scored touchdowns on eight of 18 red zone

trips (44.4 percent) – the 23rd- worst mark in the league.

Cleveland’s struggles continued in that area last Sunday against

the Rams, going 0 for 4, and were forced to settle for what would

have likely been a game-winning field goal with just over two

minutes remaining.

Phil Dawson’s 22-yard attempt, though, sailed left following a

bounced snap from Ryan Pontbriand and the Browns fell 13-12.

Dawson’s miss was the fifth shortest in the final three minutes of

regulation since 1983.

“You leave with a helpless feeling. It’s tough,” said Colt

McCoy, who completed 20 of 27 pases for 218 yards. “We should have

won – more than once. You kind of scratch your head and wonder,

`Where is all this bad luck coming from? Why?'”

The Browns have lost five of six – with their only win an ugly

6-3 victory over Seattle on Oct. 23.

“I’m just like every other person in the city of Cleveland that

woke up this morning disappointed that we lost,” coach Pat Shurmur

said. “I feel the same frustration. I’m disappointed, but not

discouraged. I feel it. I’ve lived it. I’m from this region, I

understand what everybody feels when you don’t win and so what

we’re trying to do is change that.”

“I believe in my heart of hearts we can get it done. There’s no

question.”

On a positive note, Greg Little seems to have given Cleveland a

formidable No. 1 receiver. The rookie wideout hauled in six

receptions for a season-high 84 yards against St. Louis.

Little won’t have to worry about going up against Jacksonville’s

former All-Pro cornerback Rashean Mathis, who was placed on injured

reserve Monday after tearing his left ACL against the Colts. The

Jaguars have surrendered the fifth-fewest passing yards per game

(189.3).

“That’s a huge loss,” defensive end Jeremy Mincey said. “That’s

a veteran voice we need out there. We’ve got guys that have to step

in and pick up where he left off and grow up, hopefully do the same

thing he did.”

The Browns’ ground game will likely feature Chris Ogbonnaya

again with Peyton Hillis (left hamstring) out and Montario Hardesty

(torn right calf muscle) uncertain to play. Ogbonnaya compiled a

career-best 90 rushing yards last week.

Jacksonville had dropped back-to-back meetings in this series

before defeating Cleveland 24-20 last season as Jones-Drew compiled

220 total yards from scrimmage and scored the-game winning TD with

just over a minute left.