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Jarvis Landry 'does whatever it takes to win' as Browns' passing game takes flight in Jacksonville

Jarvis Landry has been patiently waiting to catch his first touchdown all season.

The zero in that column has been in the back of Landry's mind each week since he began his third season with the Browns. Cleveland had made it to Week 12, and although Landry was among one of the most important players on the team, he still had not found the end zone.

His contributions have come in other ways. He's one of the best run blockers in the Browns' receiving room, and he entered Sunday's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars as the Browns' leading player in nearly every receiving category — except touchdowns.

"It hurts my heart," Landry said with his eyes shut and a smile in a recent interview. "It hurts my heart so bad, but I am still focused. I have to make those plays, and it will come."

The play finally came in the Browns' 27-25 win Sunday over the Jaguars.

Cleveland was on Jacksonville's 5-yard line when Baker Mayfield dropped back for a quick throw to Landry, who was bumped off his slant route by the defensive back but still turned around and positioned himself to make a play. The ball was spotted at his back shoulder, and Landry torqued his body around just in time to make the catch for Cleveland's first touchdown of the afternoon.

The zero was gone.

"He just trusted and threw me the ball still," Landry said. "He made a play because any other quarterback probably would have just come off of me at that point, but he still stuck with me and threw it to me. I made the catch and touchdown."

Landry, however, was just getting started. His touchdown kicked off a big day for the Browns' passing offense that recorded 258 passing yards, the second-highest mark of the season, and two touchdowns.

Landry caught 143 of those yards. He set a season-high in that category and made eight receptions on 11 targets and, of course, finally secured that first touchdown. He was Mayfield's go-to receiver on a considerable chunk of the Browns' third-down passing plays — six of his receptions went for first downs — and pestered the Jaguars' secondary to help the Browns record their eighth win, a record that has only been reached by Cleveland three times in the expansion era of the franchise.

"Jarvis had an incredible day," Mayfield said. "There were a lot of tight windows and contested catches that he made. The guy is unbelievable."

Landry's touchdown reception was crucial, but there were plenty of plays that showcased how important he was to Cleveland's offensive efficiency.

One of the best moments might've come in the fourth quarter, when the Browns were pinned deep in Jacksonville territory and needed a first down to preserve their 27-19 lead. On second-and-11 from Cleveland's 1-yard line, Mayfield took the snap and shuffled to the back of the end zone. His pocket was clean, but his throwing windows were tight.

So he turned to Landry and zipped a pass.

Two defenders were in the area of Landry, who was cutting back to the middle of the field. One of them nearly swatted the pass away. Landry was unfazed, though, and made the first-down catch, which kept the clock running and saved the Browns from potentially having to punt from their own end zone.

Oh, and there was his first-down catch on third-and-6 from Jacksonville's 37 in the second quarter. He made a 15-yard grab to help keep the drive, which eventually ended with a touchdown, alive and running. Two plays before that, he made a 23-yard grab that moved the Browns into Jaguars territory despite referees calling a defensive passing interference penalty.

Every catch Landry made was meaningful. After their passing game was severely limited in their three previous games due to nasty weather combinations of wind, rain or hail, the Browns wanted to spark their passing attack on an overcast and precipitation-free afternoon in Jacksonville.

That meant giving Landry a big role in the offense. He earned it and certainly did not disappoint.

"He does whatever it takes to win," coach Kevin Stefanski said. "He does a great job with the ball in his hands. He is a guy I really love to coach because he wants to be coached. He wants to be great and he also wants the team to win."

Landry's big performance was a long-awaited reward that follows a season full of other difficult accomplishments and added adversity. In Week 4, he played in his 100th consecutive game — he still has yet to miss and NFL game in his career — and made his 600th reception in Week 10 against the Texans. He's played his last four games without best friend and receiving teammate Odell Beckham Jr., who suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 7. He's also spent a large chunk of this season playing through a painful rib injury.

All of that, however, is in the past. Landry, who celebrated his 28th birthday Saturday, is focused on helping the Browns reach the playoffs, a goal he announced in his first days with the Browns in 2018. He'll do whatever the Browns ask him to do each game day, and on Sunday, that list was lengthy.

But he never failed when his number was called.

"He is a great player, a great teammate and he just continues to always put the team first no matter what," Mayfield said. "For him to have a day like this, we are very happy for him."

Landry has always been dependable. His leadership is highly cherished among his teammates, and his team-first attitude has helped him already become one of the most embraced wide receivers in team history.

That's why he was patient when it came to finally catching that first touchdown. He knew it would come soon, and when he made the catch Sunday, he kicked off what became his best performance of the season.

He's far from done.

"We still have a lot of our best football ahead of us," he said. "I'm excited to get back to work and put this one behind us. This one is already behind me."

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