McCoy leads Browns past Jaguars
For weeks, Colt McCoy has taken a pounding, the bumps and bruises seeming to worsen with every Cleveland loss.
On Sunday, the tough, young quarterback and the Browns struck back.
McCoy atoned for a costly interception inside Jacksonville's 20-yard line by throwing a 3-yard touchdown pass to Josh Cribbs in the fourth quarter and Cleveland's defense stopped the Jaguars' final drive at the 1-yard line Sunday for a 14-10 win.
Following the game, McCoy, who has shown all season he can handle punishing hits, was asked about the condition of his right shoulder, which was a target for the Jaguars.
''It is OK,'' said McCoy, who didn't know if he would undergo an MRI. ''It's going to be all right.''
And, just maybe, so is McCoy, who in the past few weeks has given evidence he may indeed be the Browns' QB of the future. McCoy completed 17 of 24 passes for 199 yards with a TD and interception, but it was the way he bounced back after throwing his pick in the third quarter that went beyond any personal statistics.
''He reconfirmed for me that he's a tough guy and he's a battler,'' said Browns coach Pat Shurmur. ''He's won hundreds of games since grade school, so he knows how to win and what it takes to lead a team. He's learning how to let a bad play go.''
In the third quarter, the Browns caught a big break when Jaguars linebacker Mike Lockley was penalized for ''leaping'' on a field goal by Phil Dawson that briefly gave the Browns a 10-7 lead. Shurmur decided to take the points off the scoreboard, and with a new set of downs, the Browns took over at Jacksonville's 11-yard line.
However, three plays later, McCoy was intercepted by Jaguars safety Dawan Landry at the 3. McCoy, who had taken earlier hits to his shoulder, went to the sideline, where Cleveland's medical staff huddled around him and worked on his shoulder and neck area. McCoy sustained a pinched nerve in the 2010 BCS title game and it bothered him as a rookie last season.
But when the Browns got the ball back, McCoy was nearly flawless.
He completed a 13-yard pass to Cribbs, scrambled for 15 yards and shoveled the ball to fullback Owen Marecic to avoid a sack. McCoy then completed a pair of 11-yard passes before rolling right and hitting Cribbs in the front corner of the end zone to cap an 85-yard drive and put the Browns ahead 14-7.
It was a moment of personal triumph for McCoy, but he chose to make it about the Browns.
''When I threw that one (interception), for whatever reason, it happened and you just have to come back and respond and we did,'' he said. ''That is always a positive.''
The Jaguars (3-7) nearly made it a negative anyway.
After Cleveland's Phil Dawson missed a 38-yard field goal - the officials ruled it went over the upright - with 2:53 left, Jacksonville rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert led the Jaguars down field and had them within 1 yard of a win.
But his pass into the end zone on the game's last play was incomplete, allowing the Browns to escape and get a win before their schedule becomes deadly. Cleveland still has five games left within the AFC North, one against Cincinnati and two each with Baltimore and Pittsburgh.
''We deserved this one,'' McCoy said. "Our team deserved this.''
Last week, the Browns lost 13-12 to St. Louis when Cleveland botched a snap and Dawson missed a 22-yard field goal try in the final minutes.
This time, the Jaguars were the ones who left the field in anguish.
''It's not the ending we were looking for,'' said coach Jack Del Rio, who defended his use of the clock in the final minute and his decision not to give the ball to Maurice Jones-Drew, his Pro Bowl running back, on the game's last.play against one of the NFL's weakest run defenses.
''It's not the first time this year we've had the opportunity. We had a chance for our quarterback to take us down. He took us down. We were knocking on the door. We just couldn't close it out.''
Jones-Drew had 87 yards on 21 carries, but wouldn't fault the Jaguars for not giving him one at the end.
''There were two or three plays we had been practicing down there,'' Jones-Drew said. ''We knew they were going to load the box. We gave our receivers a chance to make a play. We had opportunities. We just didn't make the best of them.''
Chris Ogbonnaya rushed for 115 yards and scored on a 1-yard run for Cleveland, ending a TD drought at home that lasted more than 158 minutes. The Browns had scoring drives of 87 and 85 yards, rarities in the offense's first season under Shurmur.
But Shurmur knows he can count on his defense, and the Browns' didn't disappoint.
''I did trust that we would get them stopped,'' Shurmur said. ''I trust our defense.''
Notes: Dawson was adamant he made his kick. ''It was good,'' he insisted. ''The rule states that if the ball is above the upright, it's good. And that ball wasn't even close to being over the upright.'' Referee Terry McAulay disagreed, telling a pool reporter, ''the way we saw it was part of the ball was outside of the outside edge of the upright.'' ... Marecic left with a concussion as did Jaguars LB Clint Session and DE Matt Roth. ... Browns S T.J. Ward said his foot spain is improving. He attended the game wearing a walking boot.