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Clutch Players of the Game

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Clutch Performers: 3 standouts who led the Browns to a 31-27 win over the Jaguars


The Browns avoided losing three straight games with a 31-27 win over the Jaguars on Sunday. Cleveland set multiple season highs in its Week 14 matchup, which included most passing yards, passing touchdowns and defensive interceptions.

As a result, it's time to recognize three players who contributed with clutch performances.

QB Joe Flacco

QB Joe Flacco, who was named the QB1 for the remainder of the season following Sunday's win, had a solid performance in his first game at Cleveland Browns Stadium in a Browns' jersey. 

During Sunday's win, Flacco threw three touchdown passes and picked up his 100th career regular season win. This game also marked the first time since he led the Jets to a comeback win over the Browns in Week 2 of the 2022 season that Flacco threw for over 300 yards in a game.

Flacco's three touchdown passes and 311 passing yards is the most in a game by a Browns quarterback this season. Flacco's ability to connect with many guys led to the recent success of the passing game.

Flacco connected with nine pass catchers in his first start against the Rams. On Sunday, he connected with eight different pass catchers. One of those pass catchers was WR David Bell, who has seen minimal playing time this season for the Browns. Flacco connected with Bell for a 41-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, which was Bell's first this season. Before Sunday's contest, Bell caught six passes for 45 yards on the season.

"Oh, my gosh, that was exciting," Flacco said on his pass to Bell. "This was one of those plays, you know, where they're bringing pressure, and you have to buy a little time kind of, and he did a great job feeling a little soft spot and then making it happen from there."

Check out photos of players warming up for their Week 14 game against the Jacksonville Jaguars

TE David Njoku

TE David Njoku had his best performance of the season on Sunday as he caught six passes for 91 yards, a season-high and the second-highest total of his career. This performance came at the right time after Njoku dropped a few passes on the Browns' West Coast road trip.

According to Fox Sports, Njoku leads the league in drop passes with 10 this season. On Sunday, Njoku had no drop passes and scored two touchdowns in the game, marking the first time he has scored multiple touchdowns in a game in his career. 

On the Browns opening offensive drive, the Jaguars had a blown coverage on the first touchdown, which led to the 34-yard catch that gave the Browns a 7-0 lead just three minutes into the game.

During the second touchdown, Njoku ran a quick crossing pattern after the team ran the play-action. He caught Flacco's pass and ran 30 yards to the end zone, giving his team a 14-0 lead.

"That is the hope, yes. We installed it saying, 'Hope nobody runs with you, Dave,'" HC Kevin Stefanski said. "In that personnel grouping, it's very heavy run, I'm sure. So that's what they were playing, so, it's just to get a guy open like that – the defense obviously made a mistake, but Dave's a guy who gets a ton of attention. He always comes through and makes plays for us and made a great play there."

CB Martin Emerson Jr.

CB Martin Emerson Jr. was disruptive early in Sunday's game. The second-year corner had the best game of his career, recording two interceptions, three pass deflections and four tackles.

Emerson's interceptions both came in the second quarter, one at the very start and another towards the end. The first interception came on the Jaguars' first throw of the second quarter, when QB Trevor Lawrence threw a deep ball fly route to WR Jay Jones while Emerson guarded him. Emerson, who was a few steps ahead of Jones, caught the interception easily.

The Browns defense was in Cover 8 when the next interception occurred with less than two minutes left in the half. Lawrence dropped back to pass to WR Calvin Ridley, who broke in on a slant. However, the ball flew behind him and Emerson made a diving catch for his second interception of the game. 

"I was in Cover 8, which means the cornerback has half the field," Emerson said. "I played my keys and got out pretty early. He sprayed me, which is a football term for a seven-cut to-off corner. Greg Newsome helped me because he was the other half on the other end, which overlapped Ridley's route. (Lawrence) had to throw it towards me and I made a play on it."

The Browns finished the game with three interceptions, the most they had in a game all season.

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