I attended my first Cleveland Browns game at FirstEnergy Stadium since the team was quick snapped in the 2011 opener against the Cincinnati Bengals. I predicted that Cleveland would pick up their first win of the season against the New York Jets, and in the first half, I felt confident that the team was well on their way to victory.
QB Josh McCown engineered a touchdown drive on the opening drive of the game, connecting with WR Andrew Hawkins on a 5-yard touchdown pass to put Cleveland up 7-0. The defense then forced a three-and-out, and to close out the first quarter, Cleveland tacked on a 41-yard field goal by K Cody Parkey to go up 10-0.
Josh McCown rolls right … finds Andrew Hawkins for a 5 yards TD! https://t.co/BUe0TEAaTU— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) October 30, 2016
The Browns’ defense had been playing well and QB Ryan Fitzpatrick was really laboring in the first half. When the Jets faced a 3rd-and-10 from 35 yards away from the end zone in the second quarter, they lined up in Shotgun and handed the ball off to RB Bilal Powell. The Browns’ defense was completely fooled, allowing Powell to score from 35 yards out to close the gap to 10-7.
Cleveland finished the first half strong, though. They got a 1-yard touchdown run by RB Isaiah Crowell within the two-minute warning. They forced a three-and-out and then got a 27-yard field goal as time expire to lead 20-7 at the half. At halftime, the Browns celebrated the 30-year anniversary of the 1986 team.
Unfortunately, the Browns then came out in the second half with an embarrassing display of defense, and a pretty ugly effort on offense as well. CB Jamar Taylor nearly picked off the second play of the half, and I look back at that as a turning point — if that play is made, the Browns probably score again and put the nail in the coffin. Instead, it was all Jets from there as they kept converting third down after third down after third down.
The long drive by Fitzpatrick to start the third quarter was capped off by a 24-yard touchdown pass to WR Quincy Enunwa, who broke several tackles from defensive backs, including both of Cleveland’s safeties, to make it a 20-14 game.
After Cleveland went three-and-out, the Jets put together another good drive, which was capped off by a 4-yard touchdown run by RB Matt Forte to take their first lead of the game at 21-20, still in the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Forte added a 2-yard run to put the Jets up 28-20. McCown was picked off trying to hit WR Terrelle Pryor deep. A field goal by the Jets made it a 31-20 game with just over four minutes to go. McCown was able to hit Hawkins again for a 1-yard touchdown pass and got a two-point conversion to Pryor with 0:12 left, but the team’s onside kick was no good.
- QB Josh McCown: 25-of-49 for 341 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT. Overall, I thought this was one of the worse games I’ve seen McCown play. His ball placement was not very good on a lot of passes, he was protected for most of the afternoon, and he wasn’t able to lead a drive in the second half to stop the Jets’ momentum.
- RB Duke Johnson: 4 carries, 29 yards. 6 catches, 87 yards.
- WR Terrelle Pryor: 6 catches for 101 yards, all of which came in the first half.
The Browns are now 0-8 with the Cowboys up next. I’m starting to really question whether this club will get a win in 2016.