Cleveland, OH- The Cleveland Browns defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 31-27 on Sunday afternoon to move to 8-5 on the season.
The Browns got on the scoreboard first as former Superbowl MVP Quarterback Joe Flacco found tight end David Njoku for two first half touchdowns.
Taking a 14-7 lead into halftime, the Browns traded touchdowns with the Jaguars in the third quarter.
Leading 21-14 entering the fourth quarter, the Browns were able to hold on to the lead and squeak by the Jaguars, 31-27.
"Just very proud of that football team, knew it was going to be that type of game, that's a playoff team coming in here, AFC opponent, it was hard, we knew that, but we really fought to the end," said Browns Head Coach Kevin Stefanski in the post-game press conference.
Stefanski also mentioned how important it was for the Browns defense to get four takeaways and the great support the Cleveland Browns fans gave the team.
"Defense taking the ball away four times was outstanding," said Stefanski.
"The atmosphere was awesome, our crowd was into it from the jump, it was great to be down here."
The Browns scored first when Flacco connected with David Njoku on a 34-yard touchdown pass with 11:39 left in the first quarter.
The Browns extended their lead to 14-0 with 13:40 left in the second quarter when Flacco threw his second touchdown pass of the game, a 30-yard touchdown pass to Njoku.
The Ravens added a touchdown with 6:14 left in the second quarter to make the score 14-7 going into halftime.
Both the Browns and Jaguars added touchdowns in the third quarter.
The Browns took a 21-7 lead with 9:39 left in the third quarter when Kareem Hunt scored on a 4-yard touchdown run.
The Jaguars then added a touchdown with 4:59 left in the third quarter to make the score 21-14.
In an exciting fourth quarter, the Browns were able to hold on to the lead as they scored on a 41-yard touchdown pass from Flacco to former Purdue star David Bell and on a Dustin Hopkins 55-yard field goal.
The Jaguars made a great fourth quarter comeback attempt as they scored two touchdowns. However, the Jaguars were unable to recover a final onside kick attempt in order to try to get the game winning touchdown.
For the game, Joe Flacco was 26-45 for 311 yards and three touchdowns for a very good passer rating of 92 (Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence had a passer rating of 65.2).
"(Flacco) played well," said Stefanski.
"You expect him to get better as he gets more comfortable in our system with our players."
"We just talked about him (Flacco) and all of our guys doing their job, giving us their best and I thought that's what he did."
Overall, the Browns third down efficiency was very poor as they were only 4-18. The Browns were, however, 3-3 on fourth downs which may have been a main reason they were able to defeat the Jaguars.
Although the Browns passing game was adequate, the running game did not perform great this afternoon.
For the game, the Browns gained only 82 yards on 28 carries for a 2.9 yard average. Although individually the former UC Bearcat, Jerome Ford, did average 4.3 yards per carry in gaining 51 yards on the ground.
With the running game not performing as good as we would have hoped, and the Browns third down efficiency low, the Browns were forced to punt 8 times.
Luckily, special teams and the kicking game performed well. In fact, the Browns punter Corey Bojorquez averaged 51.5 yards per punt. In addition, the Browns place kicker Dustin Hopkins converted on a 55-yard yard field goal which essentially sealed the victory for the Browns with 3:10 remaining in the game.
On the season, Hopkins is now an amazing 7-7 on field goals over 50 yards! Also, Hopkins has now completed 90.9% of his field goals this season. In addition, Hopkins was 4-4 on extra points.
A few of the main takeaways, in my opinion, should be that Flacco should start the remainder of the season (which Stefanski confirmed at the press conference). However, there absolutely should be no controversy about 2024. Watson should remain QB1.
Additionally, going forward, the Browns will need to continue to improve their running game and third down efficiency if they are to make a run in the playoffs.
The Browns will next take on the Chicago Bears on Sunday, December 17th.