Playoffs! You want to talk about playoffs?
It's been awhile, but next week's home game with the Buffalo Bills will have playoff implications as the Browns improved to 8-5 with a 24-18 win over the Jets on the road. The Jets dropped to 3-10 and snapped their two-game win streak.
The Bills and Titans are one game behind the Browns for the second Wild Card playoff spot. With eight wins, the Browns have insured themselves of their first non-losing season since 2002.
However, it took a while for the Browns to get going—again. And once they did, they had to hold on for their dear playoff lives as the Jets tried three onside kickoffs in the final three minutes of the game.
In fact, the Browns didn't score until 1:15 to play in the first half. It took the Browns going for the first down on fourth down at the Jets' 40 to get the offense started. Derek Anderson hit Braylon Edwards for 14 yards on fourth down as he beat rookie Darrelle Revis to the 26. Anderson then hit Steve Heiden for 19 yards to the seven. Jamal Lewis caught a swing pass for the seven-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead. The Browns went 85 yards in 10 plays as they took 4:54 off the clock.
The Browns came into the game averaging 28 points a game, but against the lowly Jets they were shutout until just before the half.
With the win, the Browns improved their record to 8-5 and kept their playoff hopes alive. Currently, the Browns have the second Wild Card spot behind the Jaguars, who improved to 9-4. The Titans lost and the Bills won to give them identical 7-6 records one game behind the Browns. Also, with a loss by the Steelers to the Patriots, the Browns are just one game behind the Steelers for the AFC North lead.
After the Browns' first score of the game, the Jets answered quickly as they moved down field to the Browns' 17 with 10 seconds to play. After an incomplete pass from Kellen Clemens to Jericho Cotchery in the end zone, the Jets settled for a 35-yard field goal from Mike Nugent to make it 7-3 at the intermission.
The Browns started the second half well as they went 61 yards in just five plays for a touchdown and a 14-3 lead. Starting at their own 39 after receiving the kickoff, Anderson hit Edwards who beat Revis and then raced 45 yards to the Jets' five. On second down, Anderson tossed the ball to the corner of the end zone and Edwards went over Revis for the four-yard score with 12:32 to play in the third quarter. With the touchdown catch, Edwards tied Gary Collins for the all-time single-season record for touchdowns in a season with 13. Edwards only trails Randy Moss and Terrell Owens in the NFL with touchdown receptions in 2007.
Later in the third quarter, the Jets mounted a drive to the Browns' 23 before settling for a 41-yard field goal by Nugent to make it 14-6 with 2:50 to play. The big play on the drive was when Clemens hit Laveraneus Coles for a first down on fourth-and-8 from the Browns' 33. Daven Holly had a chance to stop Coles short of the first down, but Coles was able to get the first down by inches.
Phil Dawson made it a 17-6 lead with 12:59 to play in the game as he kicked a 49-yard field goal through the wind and rain. The drive was highlighted by a big third down conversion catch by Joe Jurevicius. It was Jurevicius' first reception of the game, but it was his 24th third-down conversion of the season and it came with a minute to play in the third quarter. Another key play was an 18-yard run to the Jets' 26 by Jerome Harrison. Dawson had to overcome a pass interference penalty on Winlsow that moved the ball back to the 32.
The Browns had a quick three-and-out which took just 42 seconds before punting back to the Jets. New York then wasted little time as they scored their first touchdown with 2:59 to play on a one-yard run by Clemens to make it 17-12. The Jets went for two to tight end Chris Baker, but the pass was broken up by Leon Williams. The Browns had been relatively successful on defense prior to the drive, but the Jets had little trouble driving down the field for the score. A pass interference penalty by Williams on third down as he touched Baker early kept the drive alive. The Jets covered 60 yards in just 2:28.
The Jets were successful on the onside kick with 2:58 to play as Cassell recovered on the Jets' 43. Clemens hit Cotchery over the middle for 26 yards to the Browns' 32 on the first play. A run by Jones put the Jets at the Browns' 20 at the two-minute warning. After two incomplete passes, Nugent kicked a 38-yard field goal to make it 17-15 with 1:43 to play.
The Jets tried their second-straight onside kick, but Jurevicius handled it at the Browns' 37. The Jets had all three of their timeouts left and stopped Lewis for just six yards on the first two plays. Facing third-and-four with 1:31 to play at the Jets' 31, Lewis broke loose and not only got the first down, but found himself in the end zone to cap the victory at 24-15 with 1:22 to play.
However, the Jets were not done. After moving the ball into Browns' territory, the Jets kicked a quick field goal by Nugent with 32 seconds to play to make the score 24-18, to allow the Jets to have one more chance at an onside kick. However, Nugent kicked the ball out of bounds, but Williams was offside, thus the Jets were allowed to re-kick. The re-kick was recovered by Jurevicius and the Browns were able to seal the win.