CLEVELAND, OH - The Jets scored 24 unanswered points and forced two turnovers in the second half to defeat the Cleveland Browns 31-28. After a dismal first half, Jets were down 20-7 but picked up its play on both sides of the ball in the second half.
"We didn't come out with the attitude in the first half," head coach Todd Bowles said after the game. "They made plays and we didn't."
However, Matt Forte (25 carries for 82 yards and two touchdowns) and Quincy Enunwa (four catches for 93 yards and one touchdown) would combine to score three touchdowns in the second half to lead the Jets to its third victory of the season.
The Jets got off to a slow start and the winless Browns scored a touchdown on the opening drive of the game, going 75 yards on eight plays which culminated with a 5 yard touchdown pass from quarterback Josh McCown (25 of 49 for 341 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions) to Andrew Hawkins (five catches for 31 yards and two touchdowns). Completions to Terrelle Pryor Sr. (6 catches for 101 yards) and Gary Barnidge (3 catches for 42 yards), helped McCown find a rhythm early. Ryan Fitzpatrick (16 of 34 for 228 yards and one touchdown) took a vicious hit trying to scramble for a first down. Bryce Petty came in to replace Fitz as he was being looked at for a potential concussion. But Cleveland challenged the spot of the ball so Petty's first career NFL snap was put on hold as the Jets were forced to punt after the Browns won the challenge. A Cody Parkey 41 yard field goal gave the Browns a 10-0 lead in the first quarter.
Trailing 10-0 in the second quarter, the Jets scored its first points of the game with a 12 play, 87 yard drive which Bilal Powell (six carries for 76 yards) capped with a 35 yard touchdown run, the longest by a Jet this season. On that play, Brandon Marshall (four catches for 68 yards) picked up two key blocks to help spring Powell down the left sideline. Marshall though, had zero catches in the first half. Some key plays on that drive were an Enunwa 13 yard catch and an 18 yard run by Forte.
On third and six from the Jets' 13-yard-line, safety Calvin Pryor was called for pass interference in the end zone which gave the Browns a first and goal from the one-yard-line. Running back Isaiah Crowell (11 carries, 29 yards, one touchdown), would cap the 9 play 70 yard drive with a one yard touchdown run giving Cleveland a 17-7 lead with under two minutes to play in the second quarter. The Jets would punt the ball on their next possession, and the Browns would respond with a solid drive lead by Duke Johnson (four carries for 29 yards). Johnson made a 32 yard catch and 16 yard run on a draw play to put the Browns in Jets territory. The Jet defense would keep Cleveland out of the end zone thanks to Muhammad Wilkerson (two tackles) picking up his second sack of the season. Parkey would make a 27 yard field goal as time expired in the second quarter, putting the Browns up 13 points at the break.
Fitzpatrick had a rough first half with just three completions and 30 yards passing. But the Jets offense put up 286 yards in the second half.
"Nothing went the way we wanted to offensively," Fitzpatrick said of the slow start.
On their first possession of the second half, the Jets drove 12 plays 78 yards in just under seven minutes, and scored a touchdown. Enunwa broke three tackles and fought his way to the end zone, earning every inch of the 24 yard catch and run. Things continued to get better for Gang Green, who scored three touchdowns on its first three second half possessions.
"It was nice to see us rebound together in the second half," said Fitzpatrick.
Trailing 20-14, the Jets took the lead with a four yard touchdown run by Forte on fourth and one. Marshall and rookie Robby Anderson (three catches for 31 yards) made key catches on that drive to set up the score. On their next possession, the Jets capitalized off of poor Cleveland tackling. Powell ran for 19 yards into Browns territory and Forte took a side arm screen pass 15 yards, setting up first and goal for New York. On second and goal, Forte would punch it in from two yards out to give the Jets a 28-20 lead.
"We ran the ball a little bit more efficiently," said Breno Giacomini, who played in his first game of the season after being activated from the PUP list yesterday.
This game was the tale of two half's and defensively, the Jets allowed just eight points in garbage time, and were able to force two turnovers in the fourth quarter. Marcus Gilchrist got his second interception in two weeks, picking off McCown with nine minutes left to play. Linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin also got in on the action, intercepting McCown inside the Cleveland ten-yard-line, his first interception of his career. A few plays later, the Jets would settle for a Nick Folk 24 yard field goal giving the Jets a 31-20 lead with four minutes left in the game.
"We were getting three and outs which kept fueling us," said Leonard Williams (four tackles, one TFL). The defense allowed only 133 total yards in the second half after giving up 274 yards in the first half.
Cleveland would score on a Hawkins touchdown reception, and successful Pryor Sr. two point conversion, but the clock wasn't on their side and the Jets would recover the ensuing onside kick.
The Jets are now (3-5) and will play the Miami Dolphins, a division foe, next Sunday.
"Hopefully going forward it turns into momentum," Bowles said of the victory.
Tight end Kellen Davis (elbow) left the game and did not return.