Jaguars-Browns Preview

The Associated Press

Maurice Jones-Drew carried the Jacksonville Jaguars to their first road win in nearly a year with a gritty performance last week.

The disgruntled Cleveland Browns found themselves on the verge of victory before a last-second blunder became the latest chapter in their season-long struggles.

The visiting Jaguars look to build on their impressive effort while the Browns try to avoid a fourth consecutive defeat Sunday.

Jacksonville (3-6), which had been outscored 157-81 in dropping six straight as the visiting team dating to last season, snapped its road woes with a 17-3 victory over winless Indianapolis last Sunday.

Jones-Drew carried the ball 25 times for 114 yards and scored with 3:52 remaining to secure the win.

"There was just sheer will and desire and passion, just laying it on the line for his teammates," coach Jack Del Rio said.

Jones-Drew, who ranks fourth in the league with 854 rushing yards, has been the lone bright spot on a hapless Jaguars offense averaging 12.8 points - just ahead of NFL-worst St. Louis' mark of 12.6.

Blaine Gabbert completed 14 of 21 passes for 118 yards with a touchdown and an interception. The rookie quarterback, who has thrown for over 200 yards just once in seven starts, has no qualms in letting Jones-Drew lead the way.

"He's the best running back in the NFL in my eyes," Gabbert said. "Whenever he gets on a roll like that, and he's getting 6 yards a pop, we're going to lean on him."

While Cleveland (3-6) has allowed a league-low 163.3 passing yards per game, it's surrendered 568 rushing yards - the most in the NFL since Oct. 30 - during its season-worst three-game skid.

The Browns (3-6) have scored touchdowns on eight of 18 red zone trips (44.4 percent) - the 23rd- worst mark in the league. Cleveland's struggles continued in that area last Sunday against the Rams, going 0 for 4, and were forced to settle for what would have likely been a game-winning field goal with just over two minutes remaining.

Phil Dawson's 22-yard attempt, though, sailed left following a bounced snap from Ryan Pontbriand and the Browns fell 13-12. Dawson's miss was the fifth shortest in the final three minutes of regulation since 1983.

"You leave with a helpless feeling. It's tough," said Colt McCoy, who completed 20 of 27 pases for 218 yards. "We should have won - more than once. You kind of scratch your head and wonder, 'Where is all this bad luck coming from? Why?'"

The Browns have lost five of six - with their only win an ugly 6-3 victory over Seattle on Oct. 23.

"I'm just like every other person in the city of Cleveland that woke up this morning disappointed that we lost," coach Pat Shurmur said. "I feel the same frustration. I'm disappointed, but not discouraged. I feel it. I've lived it. I'm from this region, I understand what everybody feels when you don't win and so what we're trying to do is change that."

"I believe in my heart of hearts we can get it done. There's no question."

On a positive note, Greg Little seems to have given Cleveland a formidable No. 1 receiver. The rookie wideout hauled in six receptions for a season-high 84 yards against St. Louis.

Little won't have to worry about going up against Jacksonville's former All-Pro cornerback Rashean Mathis, who was placed on injured reserve Monday after tearing his left ACL against the Colts. The Jaguars have surrendered the fifth-fewest passing yards per game (189.3).

"That's a huge loss," defensive end Jeremy Mincey said. "That's a veteran voice we need out there. We've got guys that have to step in and pick up where he left off and grow up, hopefully do the same thing he did."

The Browns' ground game will likely feature Chris Ogbonnaya again with Peyton Hillis (left hamstring) out and Montario Hardesty (torn right calf muscle) uncertain to play. Ogbonnaya compiled a career-best 90 rushing yards last week.

Jacksonville had dropped back-to-back meetings in this series before defeating Cleveland 24-20 last season as Jones-Drew compiled 220 total yards from scrimmage and scored the-game winning TD with just over a minute left.

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