Sunday, Dec. 19 1:00pm ET
Angry outburst overshadows Jags' win
CLEVELAND (AP) -- Once the Jacksonville Jaguars got over the shock of seeing a referee get flattened by a Cleveland player, they made sure the Browns wouldn't do the same thing to them.
Jacksonville won its 11th straight game and remained in position to have home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs Sunday with a 24-14 win over the Browns.
"I'm very disappointed," Jacksonville coach Tom Coughlin said. "I don't care what the numbers are. It was not good preparation for us and certainly not a good football game. It's not a game that I'm very proud of."
There was a similar sentiment coming out of the Browns' locker room, but for a different reason.
This game will be long remembered in Cleveland for an ugly incident in the first half when Cleveland offensive tackle Orlando Brown lost his cool and shoved referee Jeff Triplette to the ground.
"I've never seen anything like that," Coughlin said. "At first it was disbelief. I was shocked."
So were players on both sides and more than 72,000 fans.
Brown became enraged when Triplette threw his penalty flag -- weighted with BBs -- toward the line of scrimmage and accidentally struck the offensive linemen in the right eye.
Brown initially knelt down in pain as the official rushed to his side to see if he was OK.
"Certainly there was every effort to apologize," Triplette said. "It was totally unintentional and inadvertent. I have been in officiating almost 30 years and never had anything like that happen."
After staggering toward the Browns' bench, Brown suddenly turned and stormed back onto the field.
The 6-foot-7, 350-pound Brown gestured toward his eye as he approached Triplette and then flattened the official with a two-handed shove to the chest. As Triplette, a treasurer for an energy company, was lying on the ground, Brown towered over him and might have done more damage if he hadn't been restrained by teammates.
His eye visibly swollen, Brown never calmed down, and after having a heated exchange with Cleveland coach Chris Palmer, angrily kicked a yard marker as he was ushered to the locker room by nearly a dozen members of the Browns security staff.
Brown, whose actions will surely draw a fine and possible suspension from the league, has had trouble containing his emotions all year and has been warned by Palmer to tone his act down.
NFL rules prohibit players touching officials. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said that the league will review it, as is the case with all such incidents.
"I would like to apologize to Jeff Triplette," said Palmer, his disappointment showing with each word. "It was an embarrassing situation for me."
Many of Brown's teammates supported him. They didn't condone his behavior, but understood why he became so emotional.
"I was shocked," said tackle Scott Rehberg, who was criticized by Brown a few weeks ago for not playing with the flu. "I never saw anything like that. It's wrong to go after an official, but we have to protect the players, too."
Browns president Carmen Policy said the club "will discuss the ramifications of the incident."
Brown, who would not comment as he walked to his car at halftime, was taken to the Cleveland Clinic to have his eye checked.
Mark Brunell completed 21 of 33 passes for 267 yards, and Jim Smith had eight catches for 134 yards for the Jaguars, who can clinch an AFC Central title next week with a win at Tennessee. The Titans are the only team to beat Jacksonville, 20-19 in Week 2.
The Jaguars lost linebacker Kevin Hardy to a sprained neck in the first half after he was involved in a helmet-on-helmet collision with teammate Tony Brackens. Hardy was motionless on the field for several minutes before being immobilized and carried off.
X-rays were negative and the Jaguars said Hardy, who was wearing a neck collar afterward, would be re-evaluated when the team returns to Jacksonville. Brackens also sprained his shin in the fourth but returned.
Cleveland's Tim Couch went down with what at first appeared to be a more serious injury while being sacked by Brackens. The rookie quarterback, who has somehow stayed healthy despite being sacked 56 times this year, sprained his left ankle while trying to avoid the sack.
The Browns rallied in the second half behind backup QB Ty Detmer, who was Cleveland's starter at the beginning of the season.
Detmer's 10-yard TD pass to rookie Darrin Chiaverini with 1:20 left in the third quarter closed the Browns to 17-14, and Cleveland fans started to sense an upset when the Browns stopped Jacksonville on a fourth-and-goal at the 1.
But Cleveland couldn't get a first down, and after a punt, it took Jacksonville one play to open a 10-point lead.
Taylor, hampered by injuries all season, went off left tackle, froze safety Corey Fuller with a head fake and went 41 yards to make it 24-14 with 10:10 left.
Flag sends Browns lineman to hospital with eye injury