Despite lacking Pro Bowl-caliber talent, the Cleveland Browns' defense has played tough, fundamentally sound football most of this season. That is why it was surprising to see everything break down during the worst possible time in Sunday's 24-20 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Cleveland held a three-point lead in the fourth quarter. Jacksonville (six turnovers) was sloppy all game but outplayed the Browns in the final two minutes. Running back Maurice Jones-Drew ignited the Jaguars late with a 75-yard screen pass, which is this week's decisive moment in the AFC North.
Jones-Drew caught the ball on the right side, dodged several would-be tacklers and reversed field to the left for an impressive 75-yard reception. It is, by far, the longest reception of Jones-Drew's career. The only thing that prevented a 76-yard touchdown was Cleveland rookie cornerback Joe Haden's hustle to catch Jones-Drew from behind. The running back would later score on a 1-yard touchdown run that put Jacksonville (6-4) ahead for good.
It would be unfair to say Cleveland (3-7) lost this game on one play, particularly when the defense forced turnover after turnover but the offense failed to capitalize. In a league in which so many games come down to the fourth quarter, Cleveland's defense had a late lapse in execution and Jacksonville took advantage.