CLEVELAND: In the waning moments, quarterback Colt McCoy genuflected on the sideline, offensive lineman Joe Thomas prepared himself for the worst-case scenario and running back Chris Ogbonnaya didn’t dare watch.
The Browns appeared to be on the verge of letting a win slip away in another bizarre game.
Somehow, they escaped Cleveland Browns Stadium on Sunday with a 14-10 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
“There is nothing wrong with praying at all,” McCoy said when asked about kneeling and bowing his head down in crunch time. “There’s nothing wrong with that.”
The Browns (4-6) needed a miracle to survive. After Phil Dawson’s 38-yard field goal was ruled no good with 2:49 left in the fourth quarter, the Jaguars (3-7) drove all the way to the Browns’ 1-yard line and ran two plays there in the final eight seconds.
“That was going to be our Waterloo right there,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur said. “It was going to come down to us stopping them or not, and we did.”
On second-and-goal, Jaguars rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert aimed for wide receiver Jason Hill in the back corner of the end zone. Cornerback Joe Haden dived and got a piece of the ball as he swiped at Hill’s hands.
On third-and-goal, Gabbert targeted wide receiver Mike Thomas, who was covered by middle linebacker D’Qwell Jackson in the center of the end zone. The off-target pass was out of Mike Thomas’ reach and fell incomplete as time expired.
“I almost had a heart attack out there,” Jackson said. “It was a tough-fought battle, and I’m glad we’re on the winning side.”
It was the type of wacky game the Browns have grown accustomed to losing.
Haden dropped two interceptions in the third quarter, and cornerback Sheldon Brown couldn’t secure another in the fourth quarter. Dawson’s field goal might have been good, but the officials deemed it unreviewable, because the ball passed over the right upright.
And the Browns left another three points off the scoreboard when they negated Dawson’s successful 40-yard field goal in the third quarter by accepting Jaguars linebacker Mike Lockley’s leaping penalty, only to follow with McCoy’s lone interception on third-and-5 at the Jaguars’ 6.
When the Jaguars began their late march, all those misfortunes stood to haunt the Browns.
“If I was a fan, I would be really nervous,” Joe Thomas said. “In my mind, the way I approach the game is, ‘Worst-case scenario, what do I have to prepare for?’ ”
The Browns, though, only needed to be ready for a celebration.
McCoy redeemed himself after throwing the interception. He hurt his throwing shoulder in the first half and was bothered more by the injury as the game progressed, but he didn’t miss a snap.
His 3-yard scoring strike to wide receiver Josh Cribbs with 12:15 left in the fourth quarter capped a 12-play, 85-yard drive and proved to be the game-winning touchdown as the Browns snapped their three-game losing streak.
The Jaguars countered with a 13-play, 56-yard drive, but they had to settle for Josh Scobee’s 42-yard field goal with 5:39 remaining. On third-and-8 at the Browns’ 9, rookie defensive end Jabaal Sheard pulled Gabbert down by his left arm, causing him to lateral the ball out of bounds for a loss of 15 yards.
Ogbonnaya had 21 carries for 115 yards (5.5 average). He drew a pass-interference penalty in the back corner of the end zone, a call that survived Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio’s challenge because referee Terry McAulay couldn’t tell whether defensive tackle C.J. Mosley tipped the pass near the line of scrimmage. Two plays later, Ogbonnaya finished the eight-play, 87-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run, allowing the Browns to tie the score 7-7 with 3:21 left in the second quarter.
Standout running back Maurice Jones-Drew, who had 21 carries for 87 yards (4.1 average), helped the Jaguars capture a 7-0 lead by rushing for a 6-yard touchdown with 10:50 left in the second quarter. But Jones-Drew didn’t kill the Browns like he did last season, when he gained 75 yards on a screen pass and followed it with the game-winning touchdown. He was held to runs of 3 and 1 yards before Gabbert’s two incomplete passes ended the game.
“I honestly tried not to look,” Ogbonnaya said of the defense’s last stand. “I tried to listen to the reaction of the crowd.”
Nate Ulrich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Browns blog at http://browns.ohio.com. Follow the Browns on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ABJ_Browns and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/browns.abj.