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Lapses on defense deflating


Jack Del Rio was clearly displeased by his team's performance in a 23-17 loss to the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, as evidenced by an abrupt postgame press conference.

"I'm not happy about it," Del Rio said of the loss. "Too many things being given away and made easy for the opponent; we'll take care of those things. We'll do it internally."

The Browns rode several big plays to victory. Wide receiver Braylon Edwards caught a 21-yard pass in the Browns' first touchdown drive, then Edwards snagged a 43-yarder that led to a field goal that gave the Browns a 17-7 lead at halftime.

No Kellen Winslow, who was made inactive for this game as punishment for misconduct? No problem. Winslow's replacement, tight end Steve Heiden, caught a short pass on a fourth-and-one play and turned it into a 51-yard burst to the Jaguars' one-yard line. Two plays later, the Browns had a 14-7 lead.

Early in the fourth quarter, defensive tackle Shaun Rogers blocked a Josh Scobee field goal attempt. Scobee's kick was too low, the result of a high snap from center by Joe Zelenka. Fortunately, the Jaguars defense forced a Browns punt.

The big play of the game was just around the corner. On third and seven at the Browns 46-yard line, quarterback Derek Anderson fit a perfectly-thrown pass into the hands of wide receiver Syndric Steptoe, who eluded several defenders and raced to the one-yard line before being pushed out of bounds by Rashean Mathis. The defense held but the Browns were able to kick the eventual game-winner.

Del Rio's ire was clearly aimed at his defense, which played well and poorly in spurts.

"There were a lot of stops. Then we've got some gimmes you just can have to be a really good defense. Big chunks of yardage; people not doing what they're supposed to be doing," Del Rio said. "There were a lot of positives. I'm just not in the mood to talk about them."

The number one positive continues to be the play of quarterback David Garrard. Despite being flattened a half-dozen or more times after having thrown a pass, Garrard managed to complete 25 of 42 throws for 283 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and a 95.6 passer rating.

Garrard single-handedly kept the Jaguars in the game, also leading the Jaguars in rushing with 59 yards on seven scrambles. The Jaguars converted 11 of a whopping 20 third-down plays and two of three fourth-down tries.

Despite the lack of support, Garrard nearly pulled out the win on the next-to-last play of the game, when his "Hail Mary" pass in the back left-corner of the end zone bounced into and out of wide receiver Matt Jones' hands three times.

"When the ball hit the second time, I thought he had a chance for it," Garrard said.

"It's a long season and it's starting to get short on us. I wish I knew what was missing. It just seems like we're having to fight and claw for everything," he added.

At 3-4, the Jaguars have fallen toward the back of the AFC playoff contenders pack. They have reached a point of desperation. They need to begin a winning streak or else.

Sunday's game marked the return of center Brad Meester, but just as guard Chris Naeole was set to debut in his return to the team, he sustained a broken hand in pregame. As it turned out, Rogers, the Browns defensive tackle, was the dominant force in the game.

"That dude is an animal. He has a motor and when it's geared up and turned on full speed, I don't know very many guys who can block him. When he wanted to force his will, you could see what he could do," Garrard said.

Cleveland is also 3-4 and now owns the tiebreaker edge over the Jaguars, as do the Bills and Steelers.

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