The last big play of the game went Cleveland's way. Most of the other ones did, too.
Jamal Lewis ran for 81 yards and a touchdown, Derek Anderson completed several long passes, defensive tackle Shaun Rogers dominated all over the field and the Browns beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 23-17 Sunday.
"If my guys come to play the way they came to play today, we are going to be in it," Cleveland coach Romeo Crennel said. "We're going to be in it and have a chance."
The Browns (3-4) won for the second time in three games -- both without Kellen Winslow -- and gained ground on AFC North leader Pittsburgh.
Winslow's one-game suspension for criticizing the team's handling of his staph infection was rescinded, but the Browns did just fine without their outspoken Pro Bowl tight end.
Anderson was 14-of-27 for 264 yards and a touchdown. He did most of his damage in the first half, leading the Browns to 17 points in their first four possessions. He had a 5-yard TD toss to Donte' Stallworth; a 51-yard completion to Winslow's replacement, Steve Heiden, on fourth down; and a 43-yarder to Braylon Edwards that set up a short field goal.
Anderson also had a 53-yard strike to Syndric Steptoe in the fourth that may have topped them all. It set up Phil Dawson's second field goal, which put the Browns ahead for good, 20-17, with 4:35 remaining.
Jaguars rookie Brian Witherspoon fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and Dawson added a 42-yarder.
Jacksonville (3-4) had two more chances to take the lead and got to the Cleveland 26-yard line with 16 seconds remaining. But Jones bobbled a perfectly thrown jump ball in the end zone that could have won the game.
"He threw a great ball. I just never really got a clean grip on it," said Jones, who finished with eight receptions for 117 yards after appealing a three-game suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. "You don't ever want it to come down to a play like that, but when it does, you want to be the one who makes the play."
The Jaguars fell to 2-4 following bye weeks under coach Jack Del Rio. They had hoped to sweep a three-game stretch against Cleveland, Cincinnati and Detroit to get back in the AFC playoff picture. Now, though, they're even behind the Browns.
All of Jacksonville's games have been decided by seven points or less, and the club dropped to 1-3 at home. Del Rio ripped his players in the locker room after the game, disappointed they've had so many close losses after finishing 11-5 last season and making the playoffs.
"He said we're a good team and we need to stop dillydallying and playing around and put these teams away," defensive end Reggie Hayward said. "He wasn't belligerent. He was upset we lost. Losing hurts and it sucks, and he just explained that in his message. He said what everyone was feeling."
Jacksonville's problems started in pregame warmups when guard Chris Naeole, expected to play for the first time since injuring his quadriceps last season, injured his right hand and was pulled from the starting lineup.
Without him, the Jaguars struggled to contain Rogers.
Rogers finished with nine tackles, a sack and a blocked a field goal. He kept running backs Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew from getting anything up the middle -- they finished with a combined 53 yards on the ground -- and pressured David Garrard all afternoon.
Garrard finished 25-of-42 passing for 283 yards and two touchdowns. He led the team with 59 yards rushing, but was sacked three times.
"That dude's an animal," Garrard said of Rogers. "We had a few plays designed to try to use his strength against him and he just put more strength into it and made some huge plays on third-and-shorts and even on fourth-and-short. He's the biggest guy on the field and might be the biggest guy in the whole league.
"He has a motor, and when it's geared up and turned on and full speed, I don't know very many people that can block him. When he wanted to force his will, you could see what he could do."
Rogers' knocked Garrard to the ground several times, including one that drew a roughing-the-quarterback penalty, but his best play came on special teams. He sliced between two linemen and blocked Josh Scobee's 38-yard attempt with his left hand early in the fourth.
His block essentially forced Jacksonville to need a touchdown in the closing seconds instead of a game-tying field goal.
"I'm just trying to fit in," Rogers said. "Whatever they ask me to do I'll try to do to the best of my ability and help. I'm just flattered to be the guy they want in the game at crucial times."
- The Browns have won three in a row in Jacksonville, but trail the all-time series 3-8.
- Garrard has thrown 150 passes without an interception.
- The Jaguars lost despite converting 11 of 20 times on third down. They also were 2-for-3 on fourth down.
- Cleveland has gone three straight games without a turnover.