Shorts homecoming adds to pain of another Browns loss
4:58 PM, Dec 1, 2013
Cecil Shorts came home and broke some hearts.
A Cleveland kid who grew up rooting for the Browns, Shorts caught a 20-yard touchdown pass from Chad Henne with 40 seconds left, rallying the Jacksonville Jaguars to a 32-28 win on Sunday.
On 3rd-and-9, Henne lofted a perfect pass to the left corner for Shorts, who had beaten cornerback Joe Haden to get open. Shorts got both feet down in the end zone before tumbling out of bounds. It was a dream moment for Shorts, who earlier this week talked about the excitement of returning to play in front of family members and friends. As a kid, his father raised him to support the local teams.
"I'm all Cleveland -- Browns, Indians, Cavaliers," he said. "That's all I knew growing up."
He's added another entry to the city's pained sports history.
Henne drove the Jaguars (3-9) 80 yards in nine plays for the winning TD as Jacksonville continued its stunning turnaround after losing its first eight games -- all by at least 10 points. The Jaguars are 3-1 since their bye with all three victories on the road.
Before Shorts' catch, it appeared Browns beleaguered quarterback Brandon Weeden was going to shake off a rough afternoon. He had given the Browns (4-8) a 28-25 lead with a 95-yard TD pass to Josh Gordon with 3:55 left.
But Henne marched the Jaguars down the field and Jacksonville stopped Cleveland's final chance by batting down a desperation pass by Weeden into the end zone on the game's final play.
Josh Scobee kicked three field goals for the Jaguars.
Gordon returned from a head injury and finished 10 catches for a team record 261 yards. According to STATS, Gordon is the first player in NFL history to have consecutive 200-yard games. He had 237 in a loss last week against Pittsburgh, and Gordon has 1,249 games this season despite missing two games with a drug suspension.
Down 21-20 and their offense doing nothing, the Jaguars took the lead when Browns center Alex Mack snapped the ball over Weeden's head into the end zone and the QB kicked it out of bounds for a safety.
Weeden, back in the starting lineup because Jason Campbell has a concussion, finished 24 of 40 for 370 yards with three TDs and two interceptions -- both coming in the final 2:35 of the first half.
Henne went 24 of 40 for 195 yards and two TDs.
Gordon left briefly in the third quarter after sustaining a head injury while trying to make a leaping catch.
He was drilled by safety Winston Guy, who knocked Gordon's helmet off as he tried to snag a forced throw by Weeden. Gordon's head snapped back and he appeared to bang it as he landed on the hard ground. Guy was penalized for an illegal hit.
Gordon got to his feet and walked to the sideline without any help, but after he was examined on the bench, the second-year pro was escorted to the locker room for further evaluation.
He returned to a large ovation in the final minute of the quarter and caught a 10-yard pass on his first play back.
A few plays after Gordon went out, Weeden connected with Greg Little for a 4-yard TD to put the Browns ahead 21-20.
Weeden fell apart late in the second, throwing the two picks and getting stripped of the ball as the Jaguars converted three turnovers into 13 quick points to take a 20-14 halftime lead.
Until his meltdown, Weeden had looked sharp for most of the opening half.
He connected with Gordon on a 21-yard TD to give the Browns a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter.
Weeden targeted Gordon on nearly every play as Jacksonville's young secondary struggled to handle the 6-foot-3, 225-pounder, who has emerged as a rising NFL star.
Willis McGahee's 1-yard TD run gave the Browns a 7-0 lead, but the Jaguars responded with Henne's 18-yard scoring toss to tight end Clay Harbor.