Joe Flacco threw three touchdown passes and the host Cleveland Browns made the fewest turnovers in defeating the Jacksonville Jaguars 31-27 in the AFC matchup on Sunday.
Flacco went 26 of 45 passing for 311 yards. Two of his scoring strikes went to David Njoku in the first half.
Cleveland’s defense picked off Trevor Lawrence three times, and the Jaguars lost two fumbles. The Browns (8-5) turned one from each category into second-half touchdowns, the latter a 41-yard scoring pass to David Bell.
Lawrence, playing less than a week after sustaining a high-ankle sprain of his right foot, completed 28 of 50 throws for 257 yards and three touchdowns. His pass to Parker Washington with 8:52 left in the game pulled the Jaguars (8-5) within 28-21.
The Browns tried to seal the win, however, by stopping the Jaguars on fourth-and-3 at the Jacksonville 38 with 3 1/2 minutes left. Dustin Hopkins paid it off with a 55-yard field goal left for a 10-point lead.
Jacksonville then went 75 yards on nine plays in just over a minute and a half, scoring on Lawrence’s 2-yard toss to Evan Engram, his second touchdown of the game. However, Lawrence was sacked on the ensuing two-point attempt, leaving the score at 31-27, and the Browns recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock.
The Browns amassed 389 total yards to 293 for the Jaguars.
Flacco was picked off once and the Browns lost two fumbles, one in each half, and the Jaguars scored touchdowns on each ensuing drive.
The teams capitalized on each other’s fumbles for third-quarter touchdowns.
On the first possession of the period, Washington coughed up the ball after a catch on the Jacksonville 22. The Browns turned that into a direct snap to Kareem Hunt for a 4-yard touchdown run and a 21-7 lead.
Cleveland forced the Jaguars to punt, but Antonio Johnson’s strip-sack of Flacco led to Jeremiah Ledbetter’s recovery at the Browns’ 25. Travis Etienne Jr. later scored on a 1-yard run.
The Jaguars trailed 14-0 in the second quarter but took advantage of the second of back-to-back turnovers. Jacksonville took over at the Cleveland 12-yard line when Amari Cooper fumbled after a short reception.
It took Jacksonville just two plays to score, when Lawrence hit Engram for a 10-yard touchdown midway through the second quarter. Engram finished with 11 catches for 95 yards.
The Browns built their lead on 34- and 30-yard touchdown passes to Njoku, who finished six for 91.