Browns Shut The Door On Jacksonville, 23-14

Behind a rugged defense, an improving offense, and some change in attitude, the 2001 Browns gained revenge and a share of first place in the AFC Central Division.

JACKSONVILLE, Florida - The Browns set the tone for the game early, that this isn't the same Browns team that folded up and lost to Jacksonville 48-0 last December.

Led by an inspiring defense and a controlled offense, the Browns defeated the Jaguars for the first time, 23-14.

A sign of things to come could have been recognized on the very first offensive play of the game for the Jaguars.

Under pressure, Jacksonville quarterback Mark Brunell (4-7 for 34 yards, 1 interception) flipped the ball which bounced off the hands of running back Stacey Mack and into the waiting arms of defensive end Orpheus Roye.

Besides the turnover, what transpired on the play directly dictated what was in store for the Jaguars.

Brunell was leveled by a helmet-to helmet hit delivered by rookie defensive tackle Gerard Warren. Able to return for a couple series later in the first half, Brunell was unable to continue in the second half.

The Browns capitalized on the Jacksonville turnover, taking a quick 3-0 lead on a Phil Dawson field-goal from 35 yards out with 3:48 gone in the first quarter.

Throughout the first half, Jacksonville looked out of sync and was unable to move the football against the inspired and much-improved Browns defense,

Looking somewhat similar to that Browns team which was decimated 48-0 last December 3rd, the Jaguars could only muster two first-downs and 74 total net yards in the first half.

Dominating defensively, the Browns offense built upon its early 3-0 lead late in the second quarter.

Starting from their own 20-yard line, the Browns drove 80 yards in 17 plays that effectively took more than ten minutes off the game clock to assume a 10-0 lead. Running back Jamel White (23 carries for 64 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 fumble) drove into the end zone off left guard for the Browns first touchdown of the game with 3:22 remaining in the half. Tim Couch was 7-8 for 68 yards (24-34 for 249 yards, 1 interception) on the lengthy scoring possession.

Up 10-0 the Browns continued to apply pressure to a surprised Jaguars team.

A tremendous special teams play would aid the Browns following a Jacksonville punt from their 29-yard line.

Picking up an illegally batted ball, Ray Jackson rumbled 43-yards down the far sideline to setup a scoring opportunity at the Jacksonville 33-yard line for the Browns. With under two minutes remaining in the half, the Browns would again take advantage of the opportunity.

Mixing in the run with the pass, the Browns drove to the Jacksonville 11 yard line before a Phil Dawson field goal with 16-seconds remaining in the half gave the Browns a 13-0 advantage.

Down 13-0 entering the second half, Jacksonville quickly turned the momentum in their favor early in the third quarter.

Making it look easy, Jacksonsville opened up the third quarter driving 69 yards in eight plays. Scoring on an eight yard pass from Jonathan Quinn (15-30 for 136 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception) to Keenan McCardell (2 receptions 17 yards, 1 touchdown) the Jaguars cut the Browns advantage to 13-7.

Playing with new-found enthusiasm, the Jaguars were back in the game and a Browns turnover on the next series changed the complexion of the game.

Jamel White, replacing an injured James Jackson (back bruise), fumbled the football while fighting for additional yardage. The ball was scooped up and returned 40 yards for a touchdown by cornerback Aaron Beasley, giving Jacksonville the lead 14-13 midway through the third quarter.

The defenses of both teams held their ground, as neither team could establish consistency moving the football. The Jaguars kicking game was their own nemesis missing a 42-yard field goal attempt.

With 11 minutes to go in the game, the Browns went to the air and Tim Couch didn't disappoint. Connecting on passes to five different receivers, Couch drove the Browns to the lead on a Dawson 30 yard field goal.

With just over five minutes remaining in the game, Jacksonville received the football at the Browns three yard line and promptly moved down the field.

Moving the ball against a soft defensive deployment of the Browns, Quinn moved the Jaguars into Cleveland territory with just over two minutes to play in the game.

Pressuring Quinn from the pocket, the Browns defense stiffened, forcing Quinn into four consecutive incomplete passes, the last on fourth down and ten yards to go from the Cleveland 36 yard line.

Taking over on downs the Browns went conservative, attempting to run out the clock.

Three straight runs by White didn't produce a first down and the Jaguars would get the ball back with one minute and twenty-five seconds remaining in the game,

Laying back in coverage, Daylon McCutcheon stepped in front of a Quinn pass intended for McCardell and returned the interception 32 yards for a game clinching touchdown.

The Browns (2-1) return home for a 1:00 p.m. contest against the 3-0 San Diego Chargers Sunday.

Notes :
The Browns 23-14 over Jacksonville was their first against the Jaguars.

Eight different receivers caught passes from Tim Couch.

Jamir Miller's two sacks give him four on the season, one less than he had for the Browns in the 2000 season and 1.5 sacks below his career high set in 1997 with Arizona.

The interception return for a touchdown was a first for Daylon McCutcheon.

In two areas that the Browns of 1999 and 2000 struggled, the Browns have been successful 43% of the time on third down (19-44) while holding the opposition to a 27.5% success ratio on third down (11-40).

The Browns were 2-1 after three games and won just one more game the rest of the 2000 season. This 2001 team doesn't resemble that team.

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