CLEVELAND (AP) — They were a joke, an easy punch line for late-night TV talk-show hosts. The Jacksonville Jaguars were the NFL’s bottom feeders, almost laughable.
They’re not so funny looking now.
Article continues below ...
Chad Henne’s 20-yard touchdown pass to Cecil Shorts, playing his first game as a pro in his hometown, with 40 seconds left sent the Jaguars to their third win in four games, 32-28 on Sunday over the Browns, who lost their third straight game and maybe another starting quarterback with a concussion.
After a 0-8 start, the Jaguars (3-9) have turned things around. With three road wins and consecutive victories, they believe this season can be salvaged.
“We are getting that positive feeling from winning,” linebacker Paul Posluszny said. “We feel like we’re headed in the right direction.”
Down 28-25 after the Browns (4-8) took the lead on Brandon Weeden’s 95-yard touchdown pass to Josh Gordon, who had 261 receiving yards, two TDs and became the first player in a league history to record consecutive 200-yard games, Henne drove the Jaguars 80 yards for the go-ahead score.
On third-and-9, Henne lofted a perfect pass to the left corner for Shorts, who beat Browns star cornerback Joe Haden, hauled in the throw and got both feet down in the end zone before tumbling out of bounds and celebrating with his teammates.
It was an unforgettable moment for Shorts, who earlier this week said “I’m all Cleveland” and talked about the excitement of returning to play in front of family and friends. His TD catch also nullified a couple drops for the young receiver.
“For that play to happen in this game, in that situation, and the hometown,” Shorts said. “It’s a dream come true.”
The Browns’ nightmare continues.
With six losses in seven games, Cleveland’s hopeful season has shattered. When they improved to 4-5 following a win over Baltimore, the Browns and their fans dared to consider the possibility of getting back into the playoffs for the first time since 2002. But losses to Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Jacksonville have changed everything.
“We can’t stand losing, it hurts,” said Haden, who fought back tears following the game. “I go out there and put my heart out there every time. Every time. And we end up coming up short.”
Haden took the blame for allowing Shorts to get by him on a double move, but several of his teammates absolved Haden, who earlier had his fourth interception and is having a Pro Bowl-caliber season.
“Something like that, that’s on the entire defense, that’s not on one man and it would be a crime to put it on one man,” linebacker and captain D’Qwell Jackson said. “It’s 11 guys out there each and every snap.”
Five things learned following the Jaguars’ comeback win:
WEEDEN WOBBLED: Weeden, who threw three touchdown passes, two interceptions — in the final 2:35 of the first half — while passing for 370 yards, was diagnosed with a concussion following the game. Per league rules, he was not permitted to speak with reporters.
A team spokesman did not know when Weeden was injured.
Weeden started because Jason Campbell is out with a concussion. If Weeden and Campbell remain sidelined, the Browns may have to start Alex Tanney, recently signed off Dallas’ practice squad, next Sunday at New England.
TRICKY PLAY: Maurice Jones-Drew has won plenty of games with his legs, and this time he helped with his arm.
Jacksonville’s running back threw an 8-yard TD pass in the second quarter to tight end Marcedes Lewis to tie it 14-all. Taking a pitch to the right side on third-and-1, Jones-Drew lobbed his pass to Lewis, completing a play that worked to perfection after the Jaguars worked on it this week in practice.
“We were looking for the right time to do it,” Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said. “It was something we practiced and felt good about.”
GORDON’S MILESTONES: For the second week in a row, Gordon broke cornerback’s ankles and records.
In addition to becoming the first player with consecutive 200-yard games, Gordon, who shook off a head injury in the third quarter, set the team mark for yards in a game, bettering his 237 last week against Pittsburgh. Also, Gordon’s 498 yards in two games and 623 yards in three are both league marks.
HENNE’S HEROICS: On the game-winning TD drive, Henne completed 5 of 7 passes for 66 yards as he directed Jacksonville’s offense, which entered the game as the league’s lowest-ranked unit. Henne finished 22 of 40 for 195 yards with two TDs and one pick.
Henne went back to Shorts, who dropped two of his earlier passes.
“I kept believing in him,” Henne said.
SNAP JUDGMENT: A rare mistake by reliable Browns center Alex Mack gave Jacksonville two points in the fourth quarter.
Mack sent his snap sailing over Weeden’s head and into the end zone, forcing the QB to kick the ball out of bounds for a safety.
“It’s my fault 100 percent,” Mack said. “I’m going to be sick to my stomach for quite a while about that.”