Jets rally past still winless Browns 31-28
Down a couple of scores and 30 minutes away from a loss to that would have turned a disappointing season into something far more dire, New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis decided it was time for a wake-up call.
The fact one was required against the winless and luckless Cleveland Browns is telling of just how things have been going in New York.
Regardless, whatever Revis said worked. Ryan Fitzpatrick led three long touchdown drives as the Jets — who trailed 20-7 at halftime — put together the biggest second-half road comeback in team history, rallying for a 31-28 victory on Sunday.
"It was basically, 'Just fight. We are not leaving this stadium not winning the game,'" Revis said of his halftime message. "This game is very important to us. When adversity strikes, we have to respond."
For once, the Jets did. Emphatically.
A week after openly criticizing team management for losing faith in him when it benched him in favor of Geno Smith, Fitzpatrick overcame a nightmarish first half to throw for 222 yards and a score.
"I'm here to try to win football games for these guys," Fitzpatrick said. "The first half was bad. We played poorly. I played poorly. It was nice to see the way we rebounded together."
New York (3-5) outgained the Browns 287-133 in the second half, and most of Cleveland's yards came on a garbage-time drive that didn't exactly smack of urgency. Matt Forte ran for 82 yards and a pair of second-half touchdowns and Bilal Powell added 76 yards rushing and a 35-yard dart to the end zone of his own.
Jets coach Todd Bowles insisted he didn't consider going to backup quarterback Bryce Petty, even as Fitzpatrick went 3 for 14 over the first 30 minutes.
"It wasn't Ryan," Bowles said. "We had 22 guys who didn't play well in the first half. We didn't play well as a team. It had nothing to do with Ryan. Ryan doesn't play defense, he doesn't block, catch or run. We had to play better as a team."
Something the Jets managed to do when with more than a little help from the Browns (0-8).
Josh McCown passed for 341 yards with two touchdowns to Andrew Hawkins in his return from a fractured collarbone, but also threw interceptions on consecutive possessions in the second half that doomed any real shot of Cleveland picking up its first victory in 322 days.
Terrelle Pryor caught six passes for 101 yards, but couldn't keep Cleveland from its worst start since the 1975 team dropped its first nine games. The Browns have lost 11 straight overall dating to Week 14 of last season and are 3-26 over their last 29. Three of the losses this season have come with the Browns ahead at the break.
"Losing is old, we're 0-8," Browns cornerback Joe Haden said. "Everything's old. We have to win. We have to start winning. When we do really good in the first half, we've got to figure out how to kickstart that thing in the second half."
LOSING BROADWAY JOE
Fitzpatrick channeled a little bit of his old "FitzMagic" put together consecutive touchdown drives of 78, 84 and 81 yards after halftime. His 24-yard hookup with Quincy Enunwa brought the Jets within 20-14. Fitzpatrick hit Enunwa again for a 57-yard gain on New York's next possession, one that ended with Forte bulling over from 4 yards out on fourth-and-goal.
The surge came after Jets Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath took to Twitter , suggesting it was time for the Jets to turn to Petty after Fitzpatrick managed just 30 yards passing and was sacked twice during a sloppy first half.
"It hurts to say this, but we're not goin (sic) with Fitzpatrick," Namath posted.
The only quarterback to lead the Jets to a Super Bowl later backtracked, praising Fitzpatrick for his delivery on the long strike to Enunwa that helped put the Jets in front. New York wide receiver Brandon Marshall chided Namath afterward, saying "Come on, Joe. You can't say that."
SAME OLD, SAME OLD
Cleveland honored the 1986 team that reached the AFC championship game at halftime. Former coach Marty Schottenheimer, who is battling Alzheimer's disease, said "there's nothing like the Browns."
Maybe, but on the same day the Indians have a chance to win the World Series and four months after the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers won a title, the glory days for Cleveland's football team seem farther away than ever.
"Had our chances, did not finish it," current Cleveland coach Hue Jackson said. "Did not finish it, and that has kind of been the story of our season."
Jets: face AFC East rival Miami for the first time this season when they hit the road to face the Dolphins. New York has won four of the last five meetings.
Browns: host the Dallas Cowboys. Cleveland hasn't beaten the Cowboys at home since 1988.