CLEVELAND — Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden threw for a career-high 370 yards and three touchdowns Sunday, but it came at a price.
The second-year pro was diagnosed with a concussion following Cleveland’s 32-28 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, preventing him from holding a postgame press conference.
Weeden completed 24 of 40 passes, including a 95-yard TD to wide receiver Josh Gordon, but also threw two interceptions and fumbled twice.
Both interceptions and his one lost fumble occurred in a 153-second span late in the second quarter, allowing Jacksonville to score 13 points and take a 20-14 lead into halftime.
“Those critical mistakes, turnovers, are killing us in these games,” Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said. “That was a huge momentum swing going into the half and really changed the complexion of the game.
“But I thought Brandon played well in the first half. Obviously, on the last few drives there, he didn’t as much.”
Weeden is winless in five starts this season — and has a 5-15 record in his career — but Chudzinski said he didn’t consider pulling him from the game. Cleveland’s only other active quarterback is Alex Tanney, who was signed off the Cowboys’ practice squad Tuesday.
“If we had put him in that situation, we were very limited in what we had in the package that we built for him,” Chudzinski said. “I also felt the guys had regrouped coming out into the second half, and they showed it in that first drive coming down.”
Weeden rebounded from his nightmare second quarter by leading the Browns on an 80-yard drive to start the third. It concluded with a sharply-thrown 4-yard TD to wide receiver Greg Little.
In the fourth, Weeden made another quality play when Alex Mack snapped the football over his head on first down at the Cleveland 14. Instead of keeping it in play and risking a Jaguars fumble recovery, he kicked the ball out of the end zone to take a safety.
“That was my fault 100 percent and I’m going to be sick to my stomach for quite a while about that,” Mack said. “Brandon did a real good job. To be able to have a couple of bad plays and come back and have everyone rally around him and get some good things going, that was big for our whole offense.”
Weeden’s performance upped his season passer rating to 70.3 and allowed him to even his touchdown-to-interception ratio at 9-9.
But with his health now in question and first-stringer Jason Campbell also out with a concussion, there is a legitimate chance that Tanney could be under center next week at New England.
“The more time (Alex) gets and the more practice he gets, obviously he’ll be more exposed to the offense and be able to run more offense,” Chudzinski said.
Tight end Danny Noble — an Elyria High graduate — made his first NFL start as part of a three tight end package. The second-year pro recovered a fumble by teammate Clay Harbor on the initial snap of the game and saw significant action on Jacksonville’s special teams.
* Cleveland Collinwood High and Mount Union product Cecil Shorts III made six catches for 64 yards, including the game-winning TD with 40 seconds left.
The 6-foot, 202-pounder beat Haden in the left corner of the end zone for the 20-yard score, delighting the more than 100 friends and family members that were in the stands.
“I can’t really put it into words, it’s a dream come true,” Shorts said. “For that play to happen in this game, in this situation, in my hometown, it felt really good.”
* Maurice Jones-Drew rushed for a game-high 77 yards and tossed an 8-yard TD to tight end Marcedes Lewis. Jones-Drew had only attempted one pass — an interception — in his previous 110 NFL games.
* The Jaguars have won three of their last four games after starting the season with eight losses.
Brownie bits Willis McGahee rushed for 57 yards on 14 carries, averaging a season-high 4.1 yards. He also scored on a 1-yard run, giving him both of Cleveland’s rushing touchdowns this season.
The 31-year-old running back ranks 37th in NFL history with 8,441 rushing yards.
* Gordon’s 95-yard TD catch from Weeden was the third-longest offensive play and pass in franchise history.
* Cornerback Joe Haden made his fourth interception in the last four weeks, giving him 13 picks in his four-year career.
* Weeden has six fumbles on the season, which is four more than anyone else on the team.
* Safety Jordan Poyer averaged 16.3 yards on three punt returns.
* Tanney and guard Jason Pinkston both dressed, but did not step onto the field. Pinkston is still waiting to make his season debut after being active for three weeks.
* Ahtyba Rubin and Jabaal Sheard each had sacks, ending the team’s two-week drought.
Out of action
Campbell (concussion), linebackers Craig Robertson (knee) and Tank Carder (shoulder), tackles Martin Wallace (illness) and Reid Fragel, guard Garrett Gilkey and nose tackle Ishmaa’ily Kitchen were inactive.
Darius Eubanks made his first NFL start at inside linebacker, filling in for Carder and Robertson.
Linebackers Eric Martin (head) and Brandon Magee (chest) were hurt in the first half and did not return. That left rookies Barkevious Mingo and Paul Hazel as the only available backups.
Cornerback Chris Owens (leg) was helped off the field late in the fourth quarter.
* Not in uniform for the Jaguars were running back Justin Forsett (foot), wide receiver Stephen Burton (concussion), quarterback Ricky Stanzi, cornerback Jamell Fleming, guard Jacques McClendon, wide receiver Jeremy Ebert and defensive tackle Jeremy Mincey.
The Jaguars lead the all-time series 10-5, including 6-2 in Cleveland. The teams’ 60 combined points were their most in head-to-head play.
* A season-low crowd of 69,654 was in attendance. The kickoff conditions were 40 degrees with a light wind out of the southwest.
* The Browns wore their traditional brown tops and white pants, while the Jaguars donned white tops and black pants.
* Brownie the Elf returned to serve as Cleveland’s secondary mascot after a two-month absence, joining canine Chomps.
* Former running back Greg Pruitt served as the Browns’ honorary captain.
Contact Brian Dulik at firstname.lastname@example.org.