Jets avoid humiliation against Browns with comeback in 31-28 win

CLEVELAND — The Jets saved themselves from complete humiliation.

They picked up a 31-28 victory against the winless Browns (0-8) in Cleveland Sunday, but they gave their fan base quite a scare in the process. Gang Green was embarrassed by the worst team in the league in the first half but ultimately overcame a 13-point deficit to improve to 3-5.

Even while getting the win, there were still plenty of troubling signs for the Jets considering how much difficulty they had with Cleveland. Nonetheless, the Jets now have secured back-to-back wins after getting trounced by tough opponents in their first six games.

Critical to the victory were defensive adjustments made by Todd Bowles after Terrelle Pryor repeatedly got the best of Darrelle Revis playing soft coverage in the first half.

Bowles also elected to keep Fitzpatrick in the game after half time, despite a Twitter recommendation from Joe Namath, which ended up paying off.

Josh McCown threw for over 300 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.

Josh McCown threw for over 300 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.

(Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Quincy Enunwa and Matt Forte were the key cogs for the offense. Enuwna made a couple of big plays, including one touchdown, while Forte pounded home a pair of rushing scores.

Sunday’s win was the first time in team history the Jets have won on the road after trailing by 13 or more points at half time, per Pro-Football-Reference.com.

The Browns certainly didn’t look like a winless team on their first drive against the leaky Jets defense. Josh McCown, who returned to action this week, opened the game by hitting Gary Barnidge for a 32-yard gain to start an eight-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a five-yard TD pass to Andrew Hawkins.

After the offense scuffled around early, the Jets were able to take advantage of the Browns’ 31st-ranked run defense to get some points. A 12-play, 87-yard drive that took the game into the second quarter was boosted by a Matt Forte 18-yard run and then culminated a Bilal Powell 35-yard touchdown run to make the score 10-7 Browns with 12:44 left in the half.

Ryan Fitzpatrick bounced back in the second half of the Jets victory.

Ryan Fitzpatrick bounced back in the second half of the Jets victory.

(Jason Miller/Getty Images)

As the half continued, the Browns took advantage of Darrelle Revis’ declining play over and over. Revis continued to play soft coverage on Pryor, so McCown hit his top receiver on underneath routes repeatedly to move the ball. That was a key factor in the Browns’ next scoring drive at the end of the half, which ended with a one-yard touchdown run by Isaiah Crowell to put Cleveland ahead 17-7 with 1:51 left in the half. Calvin Pryor was called for pass interference in the end zone on Barnidge on the play prior to the score.

The Browns tackled on another field goal to go into the locker room up 20-7.

Despite Joe Namath calling on Twitter for the Jets to bench Fitzpatrick in favor of Bryce Petty at half time, Bowles stuck with his veteran signal caller. That decision paid dividends on the opening drive. First, Fitzpatrick finally got Brandon Marshall the ball, as the veteran receiver made his first two catches of the day on that first drive of the third quarter. Then the veteran QB hit Quincy Enunwa a few yards out from the end zone and the third-year receiver shimmied his way past defenders to get in for the 24-yard score. That cut the deficit to six points with 8:15 left in the third quarter.

And Enunwa continued to make a major impact on the second half. On Gang Green’s next drive, Fitzpatrick hit Enunwa in single coverage deep for a 57-yard gain that put the Jets in the red zone. A few plays later the Jets faced 4th-and-1 from the four-yard line, and Bowles elected to go for it, which worked out as Forte ran into the end zone for a touchdown to put the Jets ahead 21-20 with 2:11 left in the third quarter.

Andrew Hawkins.

Andrew Hawkins.

(Jason Miller)

Gang Green’s defense adjusted and was finally able to contain the Browns, keeping Cleveland scoreless in the third quarter. The Jets opened the final period with a 13-play, 81-yard drive that ended with another Forte touchdown run — this time a two-yarder — to put them ahead 28-20 with 9:38 left in the contest.

The Jets finally got a turnover on the ensuing drive, as Marcus Gilchrist picked off McCown on a deep pass attempt. Later in the quarter, the Browns were pinned back deep in their own territory when Calvin Pryor popped a ball up in the air and Lorenzo Mauldin was there to catch the interception. A few plays later, Nick Folk came on to kick a 24-yard field goal to put the Jets up 31-20 and effectively ice the game.

With 12 seconds left, the Browns scored a touchdown when McCown hit Hawkins for a short touchdown on Marcus Williams and then hit Pryor for the two-point conversion to bring the Browns within three and keep their hopes narrowly alive. But Marshall caught the onside kick to end the game.

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nfl
new york jets
cleveland browns

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