The Jaguars (7-3) were able to secure their fourth-straight victory Sunday in rough conditions against the Cleveland Browns (0-10) at FirstEngery Stadium.
Wind and snow played a huge factor in Jacksonville's 19-7 win over Cleveland on the road. Both teams fumbled the ball multiple times, as the slippery weather impacted ball security.
The conditions forced punts and field goal attempts to sway in unintended directions, immediately impacting the field position battle.
Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles had multiple throws twist in the wind, limiting his ability to connect with his top playmakers.
Bortles completed 17-of-30 passes for 154 passing yards and a touchdown during the Week 11 matchup. His top target was wide receiver Marqise Lee, who caught five passes for 45 receiving yards.
Rookie wide receiver Dede Westbrook made his long-awaited debut, chipping in 35 yards on three catches.
The Jaguars' passing game was aided by running back Leonard Fournette, who played despite drawing a questionable tag earlier in the week. Fournette overcame an ankle injury to rush for 111 yards on 28 carries. He added another seven receiving yards on two catches.
Jacksonville's defense played well in the cold conditions, allowing the Jaguars' offense to take its time with the ball. An interception in the first quarter by Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith allowed the Jacksonville offense to glide downfield for an early touchdown score.
The defense forced five three-and-outs in the first half. It took Browns quarterback DeShone Kizer more than 16 minutes to complete a pass to one of his teammates.
The rookie eventually completed 16-of-32 passes for 179 passing yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.
Kizer's top weapon in the passing game was wide receiver Corey Coleman, who caught six passes for 80 yards. Running back Duke Johnson also added four catches for 56 yards.
Kizer was sacked five times by the Jaguars' defense. Defensive end Yannick Ngakoue produced 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles on Kizer.
Defensive linemen Malik Jackson and Dante Fowler each produced solo sacks on the rookie. Smith and cornerback A.J. Bouye both picked off Kizer during the game.
Jacksonville's advantage in the time of possession battle was extremely one-sided. The Jaguars had the ball for 36:55, while the Browns were able to maintain possession for just 23:05.
The Jaguars now own a one-game lead in the race for the AFC South crown.
The Browns' offense started with great field position after Cleveland running back Matthew Dayes gained 53 yards on the game's opening kickoff. Despite the favorable spot on the field, the Jaguars' defense was able to hold the Browns to a three-and-out. A sack by defensive tackle Malik Jackson capped the defensive stand.
Following a punt by the Browns, the Jaguars took over at the Jacksonville 10-yard line. The Jaguars picked up two first downs but were eventually forced to punt, as well.
An illegal formation penalty on Jacksonville forced the formation back five yards on a re-kick. The re-kick paid off for the Browns, as punter Brad Nortman sent the ball just 21 yards downfield.
Jacksonville didn't allow Cleveland to enjoy the field position for very long. Telvin Smith picked off a pass by Kizer on the very next play. It was Smith's third interception of the season.
Set up in Cleveland territory, the Jaguars' offense took advantage. A short toss by Bortles to Lee went for 17 yards, putting the Jaguars in prime position to score.
The four-play, 33-yard drive ended with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Bortles to tight end Marcedes Lewis. The extra point by kicker Josh Lambo put the Jaguars up, 7-0, with 6:54 left in the first quarter.
Following the Jaguars' first score of the game, the two teams exchanged punts in the windy weather.
Eventually, the Jaguars picked up the pace with their running game. Fournette gained 29 yards on the first play of the Jaguars' fourth drive of the game. The play put the Jaguars in Cleveland territory to end the first quarter.
The Jaguars eventually had Lambo attempt a 38-yard field goal. Lambo made his eighth-straight field goal attempt and put Jacksonville up, 10-0, with 14:14 left in the second quarter.
The Browns finally showed some life on offense during the next series. It took Kizer roughly 16 minutes to connect on a pass with a teammate. He tossed back-to-back completions to wide receiver Corey Coleman and then hit running back Duke Johnson with a 27-yard touchdown pass. Following an extra point, the Browns trailed the Jaguars, 10-7, with 11:28 left in the first half.
The Jaguars and Browns traded punts until Jacksonville's final drive of the first half. Bortles used the passing game to work his way into Cleveland territory. The quarterback hit Lewis, fellow tight end James O'Shaughnessy and rookie wide receiver Dede Westbrook on the drive.
Westbrook and running back T.J. Yeldon both fumbled during the series but the Jaguars were able to recover. A holding penalty on left guard Chris Reed moved the Jaguars back 10 yards on third down, eventually forcing a 41-yard field goal for Lambo, who missed the attempt.
The Jaguars took a 10-7 lead into halftime.
Jacksonville and Cleveland failed to find a rhythm early in the third quarter. It took a pair of turnovers to bring the energy back into the contest.
Browns safety Jabril Peppers muffed a punt return and was tackled by Jaguars safety Peyton Thompson. The Jaguars were then able to recover the ball in Cleveland's area of the field.
However, three plays later, Bortles was sacked by Browns linebacker Christian Kirksey and fumbled the ball. The Browns were able to recover the loose ball and take over possession at their own 29-yard line.
Still, the Browns failed to make their way downfield. The back-and-forth trading of punts continued throughout the third quarter.
The fourth quarter offered more of the same until Jaguars cornerback A.J. Bouye picked off Kizer with 8:23 left in the game. The interception was Bouye's fourth of the season.
Following the turnover, the Jaguars used a mix of plays to move downfield. Bortles and Fournette guided the ball deep into the Browns' territory, using the run and pass to compliment each other.
Lambo eventually attempted and made a 39-yard field goal to put the Jaguars up, 13-7, with 3:31 left in the game.
The Jaguars' defense was able to hold tight during the game's final two meaningful drives. An Ngakoue sack on Kizer forced another fumble and the Jaguars were able to recover for a touchdown, clinching the victory.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette produced 111 rushing yards on 28 carries against the Browns. The rookie running back had a few big gains throughout the game. His longest run for was 29 rushing yards.
Fournette helped the Jaguars keep the time of possession battle extremely one-sided.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith picked off a pass from Browns quarterback DeShone Kizer on the first play of Cleveland's second offensive possession. The Browns had terrific field position due to a punting mishap by Brad Nortman. Smith washed away any concern with the interception in Cleveland territory.
The interception led to a four-play, 33-yard touchdown scoring drive for the Jaguars' offense.
STAT OF THE GAME
The Jaguars fumbled five times Sunday in snowy, windy conditions. Jacksonville recovered four of those fumbles.
The Jaguars were without three offensive starters due to injury. Right tackle Jermey Parnell (knee), left guard Patrick Omameh (quad) and wide receiver Allen Hurns (ankle) were ruled out earlier in the week. Rookie linebacker Blair Brown (hamstring) was also sidelined for the game.
Wide receiver Keelan Cole briefly left the game with a ribs injury but returned during the first quarter. Linebacker Donald Payne suffered a hamstring injury and didn't return to the game.
Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.
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