East Rutherford, NJ - Five turnovers will win you a lot of football games and it certainly won the Jets their season opener as they forced five turnovers to beat the Browns 31-10.
Four fumbles, including one that prevented a touchdown and one that negated a Jets turnover, plus an interception by the Jets defense was the difference in today's game. The Jets barely outgained the Browns, 333 yards to 321 yards, but were able to win by 21 points because of the turnovers.
The first turnover came after the Browns methodically marched 90 yards down the field but as Browns starting quarterback Josh McCown tried to run the ball into the end zone he got crushed by Calvin Pryor and DeMario Davis as Pryor knocked the ball loose and Antonio Cromartie was able to recover the ball in the end zone to stop a touchdown and give the Jets the ball. The combo hit also knocked McCown out of the game with a concussion injury and led to Johnny Manziel playing the rest of the game.
"We knew, him and Johnny (Manziel), like to escape out of the pocket and run with the ball," Pryor said. "But he took off, I knew that he (McCown) doesn't like to get down so, I was able to get a shot on him and once I did I knew we had forced the fumble."
Manziel had his moments, finishing 13-24 for 182 yards and a touchdown, but after the Jets defense settled down they simply proved to be too much for Manziel and the Browns offense.
"We just had to settle down. We knew what they were going to do," Pryor said. "We just had to settle down and come to play."
Manziel fumbled twice, and the Jets recovered both, and threw an interception to Jets cornerback Marcus Williams, who was the next man up after Cromartie went down with a knee injury.
Ryan Fitzpatrick put up almost identical stats, minus the fumbles, finishing 15-24 for 179 yards and two touchdowns and an interception. Fortunately for Fitzpatrick and the Jets Brandon Marshall wasn't about to let the Tashaun Gipson keep the ball as Marshall was able to rip the ball from Gipson's hands and managed to create a turnover on a turnover but also gained 18 yards on the play.
"He made a good play. At the end of the day, the only thing that was on my mind was to put the offense in good field position. He made a veteran move," Gipson said. "I can't tip my hat enough to him. I think that play changed the game."
One penalty and one play later Chris Ivory scored his first of two touchdowns to tie the game at 7-7. Marshall only had six catches for 62 yards and a touchdown but after that strip it felt like he took over the game and now the Jets defense is trying to recruit him to join them on their side of the ball.
"That was a great play in the game," Pryor said. "We might could use him at corner or something (laughter)."
"Oh yeah, that was huge," David Harris added. "Receivers are taught, don't let the defense get an interception and unfortantely he (Gipson) did catch the ball but (Marshall) did some fast thinking and stripped the ball so, it turned out to be a huge play for the offense and it changed the field position. It's huge."
Marshall wasn't the only offensive contributor, Eric Decker caught a touchdown, Chris Owusu caught four passes for 55 yards, including a huge 43 yard catch right before the pick-fumble play. And Ivory and Bilal Powell combined for 153 yards on 32 carries (Ivory had 91 on 12 carries and two touchdowns and Powell had 62 yards on 12 carries). But as promising as some of the offensive production was this game won by the defense and the turnovers.
"We got four turnovers, which was a huge plus, and we gave up 10 points," Harris said. "And if you give up (only) 10 points in this league (there's about) a 90 percent chance you'll win the game."