December 17, 2014

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Browns notes: Jaguar defense does job on stopping run

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Browns pride themselves on being a power running team. Their strength failed them Sunday in a 24-20 loss to the Jaguars.

The six turnovers by the defense gave the offense repeated chances to establish the run, and coordinator Brian Daboll kept calling for hand­offs to Peyton Hillis. The yards never came.

Hillis rushed 21 times for 48 yards, a dismal 2.3 average. His long was 6.

More photos below.

“It was poor. I think any­body that watched the game could see that,” said Hillis, who had six catches for 95 yards and a touchdown. He has 10 touchdowns on the year. “I think it was a team offensive effort. It was all of us. “You have to give the Jack­sonville Jaguars a great com­mendation on defense. They did a great job, they stopped us on the run. No ifs, ands or buts about it.”

The line did a poor job of creating space for Hillis. He was hit often in the backfield, causing negative plays and leaving the offense in second­and- long situations. The Jaguars wanted revenge from last year’s finale when they gave up 214 rushing yards.

“We weren’t flat, trust me,” left guard Eric Steinbach said. “In pregame and all that stuff, we knew what we had to do. But as the game went on, we didn’t produce. It’s a produc­tion business and the offen­sive line’s going to take (the blame).”

Jacksonville blitzed often against the run and stunted its linemen. It caused confusion and led to penetration.

“You’ve got to be able to (run) and you can’t have nega­tive plays,” coach Eric Mangini said. “They did a really good job against our running game and it’s not like it’s a secret we will run the ball.

“But that being said, we still need to go out and do it.”

Injury report

  • Starting cornerback Eric Wright (knee) was the latest Brown to succumb to injury. Nose tackle Ahytba Rubin landed on him in the first quarter and Wright limped off. He worked out with a trainer at halftime, but was unable to return. “It’s all right,” he said. “I’ll know more (today).” Mangini said Wright’s absence made it difficult on the substitution pattern, and he was forced to call two timeouts when he didn’t think the defense was prepared. Rookie Joe Haden moved into Wright’s spot and got his third interception of the year. Eric King, signed Tuesday, became the nickelback. He made a tackle on his first snap.
  • Tight end Benjamin Watson returned after getting an injured ankle retaped. “It’s just something you’ve just got to fight through,” he said. “If we can play, we’re gonna play, bottom line.” Watson, the team’s leading receiver, was held without a catch. The final pass bounced off his chest, but he said it was deflected.
  • Special teamer Blake Costanzo left the game with a groin injury suffered on a kickoff.
  • Receiver/returner Joshua Cribbs (dislocated toes) and defensive back Mike Adams (abdomen) were inactive.

Dawson’s tough day

Phil Dawson entered the game with a streak of 13 straight field goals made, but missed a pair of 51-yarders that proved critical. He was making them from 55 and 60 yards in pregame warmups.

“The frustrating part of today is obviously the result,” he said.

“From an execution standpoint, I hit ’em where I was aiming. So that’s the maddening part.”

He said the first miss didn’t draw back in, while the second drifted right in a swirling wind.

“Distance wasn’t a concern at all,” he said. “I appreciate the opportunity to do those. Those are kicks I need to make. I didn’t make ’em today.”

Dawson made a 38-yarder in the third quarter and a 41-yarder to take the lead with 2:46 left.

“To have to regroup and hit the one at the end was tough, but I got that one through,” he said.

Brownie bits

  • Cornerback Sheldon Brown kept his streak alive, playing in his 138th straight game. He left the Jets game with a shoulder injury.
  • The six turnovers forced by the defense (four interceptions and two fumbles) were Cleveland’s most since 2002 against New Orleans. The Browns’ turnover ratio over the last four games is plus-10.
  • Linebacker Marcus Benard had a sack to give him a team­leading 6½. He has 10 sacks in 15 career games. The Browns had a season-high four sacks.
  • Safety T.J. Ward recorded his first two career interceptions. He is the first Browns rookie to record a multi-interception game since Anthony Henry in 2001.
  • Linebacker Chris Gocong recovered a career-high two fumbles. He had one career fumble recovery.
  • Rookie receiver Carlton Mitchell saw a lot of action in one-receiver sets, taking Cribbs’ place. He didn’t have a catch.

A start for Lauvao

Rookie third-round pick Shawn Lauvao made his first NFL start at right guard and was called for a hold. He saw limited action for a couple of weeks before replacing Billy Yates for most of the Jets game. Yates was placed on injured reserve with a biceps injury.

Lauvao was part of a right side makeover against the Jaguars.

John St. Clair started at right tackle for the first time since Week 3. He was active against the Jets but didn’t play on offense.

Floyd Womack was active but didn’t start. He started the first nine games, six at right guard and three at right tackle, but missed practice Wednesday and Thursday with a knee injury.

Steinbach, who’s having a good year, started at left guard despite a calf bruise that sidelined him for two practices.

Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or spetrak@chroniclet.com.