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Shorts catches TD pass as Jaguars rally to beat Browns

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The Canadian Press
12/1/2013 5:25:23 PM
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CLEVELAND -- 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 third-and-9, Henne lofted a perfect pass to the left corner for Shorts, who had beaten cornerback Joe Haden. 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.

Gordon returned from a head injury and finished 10 catches for a team record 261 yards. He's 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 yards this season despite missing two games with a drug suspension.

Still, Henne marched the Jaguars downfield to win it. Jacksonville stopped Cleveland's final chance by batting down a desperation pass by Weeden into the end zone.

Josh Scobee kicked three field goals for the Jaguars.

Down 21-20 and their offence doing nothing, the Jaguars took the lead when Browns centre 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. A team spokesman said Weeden was diagnosed with a concussion following the game after reporting symptoms.

Because of the head injury, Weeden did not speak with reporters.

Henne went 24 of 40 for 195 yards and two TDs for the Jaguars. Jacksonville running back Maurice Jones-Drew ran for 77 yards and threw an 8-yard TD pass to Marcedes Lewis in the second quarter.

Gordon left briefly in the third quarter after sustaining a head injury while trying to make a leaping catch. Safety Winston Guy knocked off Gordon's helmet. 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 walked to the sideline without any help, was examined on the bench and 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 period, 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 for a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter. The Jaguars tied it when Jones-Drew took a pitch to the right and lobbed his scoring pass to Lewis.

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.

Cecil Shorts  (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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