The Jets put on a spirited performance in a meaningless game, even if it took them nearly two quarters of football to find that moxie. The Jets stumbled early but improved to 7-8 on the year with a 24-13 win over the Browns on Sunday afternoon.
The Jets responded well from going down in the first half. Instead of hanging their heads, the Jets responded against a plucky opponent.
The Browns entered the game with five losses of eight points or less but they looked and played like a team on the ascent. Billy Cundiff kicked a first-quarter field goal and a 5-yard touchdown run by Edwin Baker gave the Browns a 10-0 lead by the midpoint of the second quarter.
After striking out on their first three drives, the Jets’ offense went 80 yards on 13 plays with a Geno Smith 6-yard dart to David Nelson over the middle to make it a 10-7 game with 1:18 before halftime. The defense forced the Browns into a three-and-out and behind a slicing and dicing 39-yard run by Bilal Powell, went 79 yards on five plays to set-up a 21-yard field goal by Nick Folk on the stroke of halftime.
A missed 49-yard field goal by Nick Folk in the third quarter, just his second miss of this season, was the only blip of the second half for the offense. On the next drive Smith found Nelson again for a 5-yard touchdown pass to cap a 14-play, 81-yard drive for a 17-10 Jets lead with 14:14 left in the game.
For Nelson, it was the first time in his career he has had multiple touchdowns in a game.
What went right …
1. Milliner’s milestone
It wasn’t a great all-around game from Dee Milliner — his performance two weeks ago against the Raiders was much better — but the rookie cornerback responded well. In the first half, he gave up a completion on a fourth down. He also completely lost Josh Gordon in the second quarter and got turned inside out on what was a 24-yard pass play. But he got better after that rough start, including his first career interception with 9:10 left in the third quarter. Also impressive was his physical play in press coverage after that rough start. He also showed good instincts late in the third quarter with a nice diving pass breakup.
2. Making stands
With an offense that could barely move the ball in the first half, the defense was given some pretty lousy field position but they responded twice to keep the team in the game. The biggest one came midway through the second quarter after it seemed that the defense had gotten a big stop on third down down at the goal line. But a questionable roughing the passer call on Sheldon Richardson gave the Browns four more cracks at the end zone. A fired-up defense forced a four-and-out to preserve the score at 3-0. A touchdown at that point in the game and the Jets may have packed it in. Instead, the defense got fired up and the crowd finally got into the game.
3. Ivory powers on
Chris Ivory has the looks of a long-term answer for the Jets in the backfield, with some very strong and determined running in the second half of the season. After a solid performance a week ago at the Panthers, Ivory continued to plow his way through limited holes for some nice gains. Boosted by a 21-yard run late in the second quarter, Ivory finished with 20 carries for 109 yards. The hard running of Ivory also benefited fellow running back Powell, who added 54 rushing yards, including a 39-yard run right before halftime.
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.