Jagaurs ride defense to 19-7 win over Browns, move into first
CLEVELAND — Blake Bortles threw a touchdown pass and Jacksonville linebacker Telvin Smith recovered a fumble for a TD with 1:14 remaining on Sunday as the Jaguars won their fourth straight, 19-7 over the winless Browns and moved into sole possession of first place in the AFC South.
Jacksonville’s top-ranked defense forced five turnovers — two in the final two minutes.
The Jaguars (7-3) built a 10-0 lead and turned things over to their “Sacksonville” defense. The Jaguars intercepted rookie DeShone Kizer twice, recorded five sacks and blanked the Browns (0-10) in the second half.
Cleveland’s last hopes ended when Yannick Ngakoue sacked Kizer and knocked the ball into the end zone, where Smith recovered. Earlier, Ngakoue and Calais Campbell combined to sack Kizer, who fumbled as he fell and it was recovered near mid-field by Dante Fowler with 1:48 left.
With the win, Jacksonville is leading its division after 10 games for the first time since 1999, when the Jags were atop the AFC Central at 9-1.
Josh Lambo kicked a pair of field goals for the Jaguars, who have held six opponents to seven points or less.
On a blustery, rainy and snowy afternoon, the Jaguars were unable to move the ball with much success. Their defense had another impressive performance, however, and backed up safety Tashaun Gipson’s prediction that Jacksonville keep the Browns winless — but it wasn’t easy.
Gipson, a former Pro Bowler in Cleveland, ripped the team’s front office earlier in the week and said the Browns will “probably go 0-16” and predicted a shutout.
His forecast was slightly off, but the Jaguars extended their longest winning streak since 2007 and continued a surprising season.
The Browns, on the other hand, fell to 1-25 under coach Hue Jackson and are 4-43 since Nov. 30, 2014 — the worst 47-game stretch in NFL history.
Jacksonville was missing two starting offensive lineman and because of injuries to several wide receivers, the Jaguars were one dimensional on offense. Leonard Fournette, who has been slowed by a sore ankle, finished with 111 yards on 28 carries.
Kizer’s 13th interception this season set up Jacksonville’s first score. The rookie QB, who has struggled with turnovers all season, tried to thread a pass to Corey Coleman, but Smith snatched it and made a 26-yard return.
On first and goal from the 10, Bortles made the Browns defense bite on a play fake before lofting his TD pass to a wide-open Marcedes Lewis.
Jacksonville went up 10-0 on Lambo’s 38-yard field goal.
Limited to just 4 yards in the first quarter, the Browns scored on their first possession of the second as Kizer threw a 27-yard TD pass to Duke Johnson.
Browns: DE Emmanuel Ogbah did not play in the second half because of a foot injury. ... WR Sammie Coates sustained an injury to his right knee and ankle in the first quarter and did not return. ... DT Jamie Meder’s day was ended by a left ankle injury in the first.
Jaguars: WR Marqise Lee limped off the field in the first quarter but returned after having his left ankle re-taped. ... WR Kellan Cole bruised his ribs in the first quarter but came back.
Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon worked out on the field before the game. Gordon was recently re-instated by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being suspended for the past two seasons. He can begin practicing this week and will be eligible to play for the first time since 2014 on Dec. 3 when Cleveland visits the Los Angeles Rams.
A Pro Bowler in 2013 when he led the league with 1,646 yards receiving, Gordon has missed 53 of Cleveland’s last 58 games.
Jaguars: At Arizona.
Browns: At Cincinnati.