The Jaguars’ comeback came up short. They couldn’t take the final step.
Rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert threw an incomplete pass into the end zone on the game’s last snap, capping a curious sequence of plays by Jacksonville in the closing seconds and giving the Cleveland Browns a 14-10 win Sunday over the Jaguars.
Gabbert, who had some good and bad moments, threw behind wide receiver Mike Thomas in the middle of the end zone with the ball bouncing off Thomas’s outstretched hands, denying the Jaguars (3-7) a victory that was within reach.
“Plain and simple, I have to make a play,” Gabbert said. “I have to find a way for us to score. That’s on me. I have to learn from that and get better. At the end of the day, it’s my job to score a touchdown.”
After Browns kicker Phil Dawson missed a 38-yard field goal with less than three minutes left, Gabbert drove Jacksonville from its own 29 to Cleveland’s 5, helped along by a pass interference call against the Browns. But with the end zone and a thrilling victory right in front of them, the Jaguars got bogged down when they couldn’t afford to.
On third down, Maurice Jones-Drew picked up 3 yards and a first at Cleveland’s 2 with 33 seconds left. Coach Jack Del Rio elected not to use his only timeout, and by the time the Jaguars snapped the ball again, 20 seconds had elapsed. Jones-Drew then picked up another yard and Del Rio called time with 8 seconds left.
Del Rio said the play took too long to run.
“We were way too deliberate,” Del Rio said. “You get lined up in that situation for sure. It wasn’t a matter of the timeout after that play, it was a matter of how long we sat there to get that (first down) play off. It was not what it needed to be.”
On second down, Gabbert’s pass to the back corner of the end zone bounced off wide receiver Jason Hill’s chest with 3 seconds left. Browns cornerback Joe Haden believed he got a hand on Gabbert’s throw.
Then, on the final play, Gabbert couldn’t connect with Thomas, allowing the Browns to escape.
Gabbert wasn’t going to second-guess anything that happened. He just wants to learn from the experience.
“Hindsight is 20-20,” said Gabbert, who went 22 of 41 for 210 yards. “Everyone is going to have their opinion and think they have the best play to call, but it’s our job to go out and execute. We’ve got to put the ball in the end zone.”
Jones-Drew rushed for 87 yards and a 6-yard TD.
Del Rio was asked why he didn’t give the ball to his best player on the last play.
“”You can make a case for doing that,” Del Rio said. “You can guess any number of plays when you don’t connect. We had two guys with the ball in the air in the vicinity — missed opportunities.”
Jones-Drew didn’t second-guess the late-game decisions. He reasoned that wouldn’t change the final score.
“It hurts every time you lose, especially when you have an opportunity to win,” he said. “We’ve just got to keep working. Somehow, some way, the locker room has to get tired of losing. That’s on the offensive side. Ten points is not going to win the game in this league at all. Our defense has been good week after week. We’ve got to make plays.
“If you can’t make plays, there’s no need to be playing football.”
When the Jaguars moved inside Cleveland’s 10, quarterback Colt McCoy took a knee on the sideline, closed his eyes and the young quarterback asked for some help from above.
This week, the Browns got it.
“There’s nothing wrong with praying,” McCoy said. “We deserved this one.”
Last week, the Browns lost 13-12 to the St. Louis Rams when Cleveland botched a snap and reliable kicker Phil Dawson missed a 22-yard field goal try. This one nearly ended under similar circumstances as Jacksonville’s final drive was set up by Dawson missing a 38-yarder that sailed over the top of the right post.
“Everybody played their hearts out and it’s about time it went our way,” said Browns linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, who covered Thomas tightly on the final play. “We knew it was up to us. Right there. We had to make the play and we did.”
McCoy shook off an apparent shoulder injury and threw a 3-yard TD pass to Josh Cribbs in the fourth to give Cleveland a 14-10 lead. But Dawson’s stunning miss with 2:49 left gave the Jaguars (3-7) a final chance and Gabbert, who had some good and bad moments, nearly pulled off the comeback.
Notes: Browns RB Chris Ogbonnaya rushed for 115 yards and scored on a 1-yard run … Jaguars LBs Clint Session, Matt Roth and CB Kevin Rutland left with head injuries. Del Rio provided no details. … Jaguars TE Mercedes Lewis had 7 catches for 64 yards. … Jaguars S Dawan Landry intercepted McCoy near the end zone in the third. … Jacksonville’s TD drive took 18 plays, covered 92 yards and ate up 9:53.