By Nate Ulrich
Beacon Journal sports writer
BEREA: Browns cornerback Joe Haden regrets being too aggressive Sunday in the waning moments of a 32-28 loss to the visiting Jacksonville Jaguars, but he has no qualms about unleashing his raw emotions afterward.
On third-and-9 with the Browns leading by three points and the ball at their 20, Haden bit on a fake slant route and was beaten on a double move by Jaguars wide receiver Cecil Shorts. A Cleveland native and former University of Mount Union standout, Shorts then caught the game-winning, 20-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Chad Henne in the back corner of the end zone with 40 seconds left.
“I would’ve not went for the slant on third-and-9,” Haden said Monday, reflecting on what he should’ve done differently. “Like what am I doing? It was on me. I made a mistake. I was just thinking that he runs a slant, catch it, tackle, boom, fourth-and-5, field-goal attempt. I wasn’t thinking [about the] double move, trying to go up top for the touchdown. That’s just me. I’ve got to think things through.”
Fighting back tears during a postgame interview, Haden took the blame for the final touchdown and expressed his frustration with perpetual losing in a passionate outburst riddled with expletives. On Monday, Haden didn’t retract anything he said following the loss.
“I put so much pressure on myself just to be one of the best in the league, and I hold myself at a different standard,” Haden said. “So no matter how the game went down, no matter what happened, I feel like I was so upset because it was me against another player at the end of the game. I’m supposed to make that play. I work hard enough to make that play. I should’ve made it
“When you lose, that’s how players should feel. If you don’t feel upset, if you’re not angry, it doesn’t mean anything to you. I hope everybody knows that it’s not OK to lose. No matter how much money you get at the end of the day, it’s still a game, I’m still a professional, I want to be the best, I want my team to be the best, I want us to be successful.”
Haden predicted the experience will give him “more fire,” and coach Rob Chudzinski doesn’t doubt it.
“He cares a lot,” Chudzinski said. “It’s important to him. I think you saw that in his reaction, and I want guys that are like that and feel that way. He’s a great player. He made a mistake. It happens to everybody, and the important thing is how he reacts to it. He’ll learn from it, and I have all of the confidence in the world in Joe.”
Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon has tallied 498 yards in the last two games and 623 in the past three games. Both receiving totals are NFL records, according to Elias Sports Bureau. He’s 41 yards away from breaking the single-season franchise record for receiving yards (1,289) set by Braylon Edwards in 2007.
“You’re seeing the product of his hard work and his commitment to what he’s been doing,” Chudzinski said. “It’s no surprise to me. That’s what I saw in Josh months ago. You’re seeing the end results in the last few games.
“He can run. He’s got big strides. He’s very deceptive in how fast he is when he’s running. I think you see that, and he just looks so smooth out there. The next thing you know, he’s running by somebody.”
Gordon had 10 catches for a single-game franchise record 261 yards with two touchdowns against the Jaguars. Haden knew no one would catch Gordon when he outraced the Jaguars 72 yards to the end zone during his 95-yard catch-and-run touchdown with 3:55 remaining in the fourth quarter.
“He’s a special kind of kid,” Haden said, adding he has encouraged family and friends to submit Pro Bowl votes for Gordon and other teammates.
Chudzinski rejected the notion that the team might have celebrated too much and lost focus in the clutch after Gordon scored his long touchdown.
Chudzinski continued to defend his decision to have quarterback Brandon Weeden keep throwing at the end of the first half. Weeden threw two interceptions and lost a fumble on a strip-sack in the final three minutes of the second quarter. The Jaguars turned the miscues into 13 points and had a 20-14 lead at halftime.
“We’re going to continue to develop that type of aggressive mentally,” Chudzinski said. “We’re going to play to win. We’re going to expect good things to happen and make good things happen, as opposed to being concerned about the bad things that might happen. There’s going to be times where it works out and there’s going to be times where it doesn’t work out. Obviously, hindsight is 20-20.”
Chudzinski also said Gordon was wide open along the sideline for what he thinks could have been a 25-yard gain just before Weeden was strip-sacked.
“We had the play that we wanted, but protection broke down and we had a sack-fumble,” Chudzinski said. “We had Josh on the sideline there, and we’re kicking a field goal the next play if it works out the way we wanted it to work out.”
The Browns are ranked 29th in the NFL in red-zone defense, allowing touchdowns 62.9 percent of the time. “As you guys see, we go out there on a short field sometimes,” free safety Tashaun Gipson said. “I’m not making that as an excuse, but it’s tough for any good defense. I don’t care whether it’s the ’85 Bears. But at the end of the day, we just got to … keep them out [of the end zone] no matter the circumstance, and we haven’t done that.” … When defensive players have recently lamented the offense committing turnovers, Chudzinski said he doesn’t view it as finger pointing. “Guys talking about it isn’t an issue,” Chudzinski said. “I know that as I talk to guys, they all are focused on what they can do better, whether it’s themselves as individuals or their side of the ball or their position group. I think we’re in a good place from that standpoint. Maybe I’m different than a lot of people, but I think the frustration, the disappointment, those things to me are signs that guys care, and I want those things.” … Former Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Brian Rolle worked out for the Browns late last week, ESPN contributor Adam Caplan reported. Starting inside linebacker Craig Robertson (sprained right knee) and backups Tank Carder (sprained shoulder), Eric Martin (head) and Brandon Magee (chest) are dealing with injuries. … Rookie Darius Eubanks made his first NFL start Sunday with Robertson and Carder sidelined. He had six tackles. “Overall, I felt like I had a decent game, but I felt like I could’ve done better,” Eubanks said. “I’m pretty hard on myself all the time. The coaches expect a lot of me, and I expect a lot of myself as well as my teammates.”