November 23, 2014

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Bears put the kibosh on Josh: Browns receiver Josh Gordon held to three catches, 67 yards after record-setting stretch

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon fails to make a catch against Chicago Bears strong safety Major Wright. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

CLEVELAND — Sometimes numbers lie just a little.

The stat line Sunday on Josh Gordon shows the wide receiver finished a yard off the team high with 67 yards and a touchdown. But he only had three catches in 10 targets in Cleveland’s 38-31 loss to Chicago at FirstEnergy Stadium.

Gordon was held to just two catches for 24 yards before he made a 43-yard touchdown grab with 59 seconds left in the game. The Bears led 38-24 at the time and did not play as aggressive defensively with the game in hand.

The wide receiver took no solace in his late score, even though it made him the first Browns player with a touchdown reception in five consecutive games since Hall of Famer Paul Warfield in 1976.

“Considering the circumstances, there wasn’t enough time, really,” Gordon said of his late TD. “To get an onside kick and make another drive in about 30 seconds is kind of difficult. The coming-from-behind thing takes a toll on you.”

Gordon came up 20 yards shy of tying an NFL record for the most receiving yards in a five-game span. Calvin Johnson rang up 861 earlier this season. Gordon, however, has 1,467 yards on the season, which extends the team record he set against New England a week ago.

Gordon had 125 yards on Nov. 17 against Cincinnati, 237 on Nov. 24 against Pittsburgh, 261 on Dec. 1 against Jacksonville and 151 on Dec. 8 against New England. His game against Jacksonville set a single-game franchise record and he’s the only player in NFL history to record back-to-back games with 200 or more receiving yard.

“In the NFL you definitely shouldn’t expect (big games) at all,” Gordon said. “People scheme different. Certain things won’t happen in rhythm, clicking-wise on offense. There are so many variables and too many other people have to make plays.”

Gordon didn’t record his first catch Sunday until the first play of the second half — a 13-yarder. He was only targeted once in the first two quarters. That came on a third down in which the ball was thrown just out of his reach.

The Bears scored on the ensuing drive right before halftime.

“As a quarterback, you’re always trying to keep him involved, trying to get him some balls,” Browns quarterback Jason Campbell said. “In the first quarter,
I’m not sure how many plays we had, maybe three or six. So we never really got a rhythm going early in the game.

“As a rhythm team you tend to score more points and get everyone involved, but you look up and the end of the first quarter has already come and gone. We realized we hadn’t had that many plays and that’s kind of tough.”

The Bears put cornerback Tim Jennings on Gordon for most of the game and rolled out their trademark Cover 2 defense. Gordon said it was one of the easiest defenses the team has seen all year and that Chicago did not do anything exotic to try to neutralize him.

“In that first half, we didn’t get a lot of plays offensively,” Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said. “It wasn’t for a lack of trying or a lack of wanting to get Josh the ball.

“Again, we’ll look at it. They did a good job. Then in the second half, we were able to get him the ball a little bit more. That’s the thing that sometimes is going to happen. It’s going to go in spurts of when a guy is able to get touches and get the ball, depending on the flow of the game and what the defense is doing to them.”

Gordon was involved in a minor car accident Saturday, but he was not injured and said he was not the driver. The team said Gordon’s car was behind another car that lost control in the snow and he swerved to avoid a collision.

The receiver said the accident had no bearing on his performance Sunday.

Contact Chris Sweeney at 329-7135 or ctsports@chroniclet.com.