Mark Brunell: Solid defense, running game earn win in Cleveland

Jacksonville Jaguars at 7-3, first-place in AFC South

By Mark Brunell, News4Jax Jaguars analyst
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CLEVELAND - The Jacksonville Jaguars improved their record to 7-3 Sunday as they beat the still winless Cleveland Browns. Cleveland managed to play competitively with a good Jaguars team for most of the game, but the defense was simply too tough as the Jags won 19-7.  

The defense continues to carry this football team. They forced four Browns turnovers and consistently harassed rookie signal-caller DeShone Kizer. Yannick Ngakoue had 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. He continues to impress.

The Cleveland offense struggled running the football with only 50 yards on the ground, 22 of those yards coming from the quarterback. As dominant as they were, the Browns still had a chance with about three minutes left in the game. But nobody watching that football game thought Kizer had a chance to beat the Jags.   

Offensively, the game wasn’t our best. You have the credit the Cleveland defense as they had one of their better performances of the season. Blake Bortles played well for the most part, throwing for 154 yards and an early touchdown to Marcedes Lewis. No interceptions.

The Jags' third-down efficiency was a dismal 30 percent (6-20), which isn’t what you’re looking for. But the bright spot of the afternoon was Leonard Fournette, gaining 111 yards on the ground. It was good to see Fournette perform in the bad weather. Running backs are often defined by how well they play in cold, wet conditions in November and December. 

Many would consider this victory against the Browns to be an “ugly” win. That couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s not easy beating a winless team that seemingly has nothing to play for. But the Browns weren’t just going to lay down. They played hard and competed.

What was impressive about this football game was that we got back to 2017 Jaguars football. Solid, dominating defense. Commitment to the running game. And efficiency in the passing game, which simply means no interceptions.

Congrats again to our first-place Jaguars. Things are getting real interesting.

Go Jags! 

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