It was a tale of two halves for the Jets, as they managed to find a way to vanquish a very frisky Browns squad, 31-28.
Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick went from Fitztragic (30 passing yards in the first half) to Fitzmagic (four second-half scoring drives) within a span of one halftime break, as New York (3-5) was able to keep Cleveland (0-8) as the lone remaining unbeaten team. The Jets didn’t make things easy on themselves, of course, as they had to battle back from a 20-7 halftime deficit, and overcome porous play by Fitzpatrick.
The grizzled signal caller was awful in the first half, as he went 3-of-14 for 30 yards and was out of sorts — especially after he suffered a huge helmet-removing hit along the sidelines in the first quarter. But it was Fitzpatrick’s second-half performance and grit that saved the Jets — and his job. Fitzpatrick finished 16-of-34 for 228 yards and a touchdown and led three touchdown drives, as Gang Green registered 24 unanswered points to demoralize the Browns faithful.
At least Cleveland has the Cavs and Indians, because it looks to be a never-ending season of horrors for their football team.
Metro takes a look at other key moments as the Jets managed to keep their slim Wild Card hopes alive.
What we saw
1. Big-play problems continue
Safety Calvin Pryor and linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin combined for a terrific effort on a game-clinching interception with five minutes remaining, which set up a short field goal, but there are still problems afoot for the Jets’ coverage in the back end. That’s because a grizzled journeyman quarterback sliced and diced a porous secondary at FirstEnergy Stadium, but it wasn’t who Jets fans thought and wanted it to be. Rather, it was Browns’ passer Josh McCown who had his way with Gang Green’s secondary — at least in the first half. McCown returned to the lineup for the first time since Week 2 and decimated the Jets’ secondary, initially targeting aging corner Darrelle Revis. The future Hall of Famer was torched in the first half, as wideout Terrelle Pryor garnered all of his 101 receiving yards with three minutes still remaining in the opening half. Through the first two quarters, McCown had completions of 35, 32, 32, 24, 18, 17 and 15 yards, further exploiting the issues of the Jets’ secondary.
2. The Quincy Enunwa awakening
The Jets have been looking for someone to step up the production opposite Brandon Marshall, and Enunwa looks ready to pounce on the opportunity. The third-year wideout is starting to come into his own, as New York is in desperate need of a sidekick for Marshall, with Eric Decker out for the season, and his availability for next season even casts some doubts. Enunwa registered his second-straight strong performance as he tallied four catches for a team-high 93 yards, including a 24-yard touchdown on the Jets’ opening drive of the second half to kick start the comeback. Enunwa even showed his wares as a complete football player when he ruined a prime opportunity by the Browns on an interception chance in the second half. The defended pass gave the Jets new life and they parlayed that into another touchdown.
3. Running game back on track
Both Matt Forte and backup Bilal Powell found holes in the Browns’ run defense en route to a total of 158 yards on the ground. Forte had a game-high 82 yards, including two second-half touchdowns to get the win. Powell had 76 yards on just six carries, including a magnificent 35-yard touchdown run when he showed great burst getting to the edge and racing past Cleveland defenders. The second-half performances were especially key in helping Fitzpatrick get back on track, as it alleviated any pressure of having the maligned signal caller have the game squarely on his shoulders.