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Browns vs. Jets Final Score: Short-handed, Cleveland loses 23-16, still control fate

This week turned to hell for the Browns because of COVID. But, Cleveland still controls their own fate if they can beat Pittsburgh next Sunday.

Cleveland Browns v New York Jets Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

The lack of receivers and offensive line issues hurt the Browns against the Jets, getting off to a terrible deficit early in the third quarter at 20-3. Cleveland fought to try to rally despite being short-handed on offense due to the crazy wide receiver situation, but the Jets’ defense forced three fumbles on Mayfield that ultimately turned out to be the backbreaker. Let’s get to the recap of the game.

1st Quarter

The Browns got the ball first and came out trying to throw the ball. After a 5-yard completion to TE Austin Hooper over the middle, FB Andy Janovich couldn’t hang on to the second down pass, and then QB Baker Mayfield’s third down pass fell incomplete, leading to a punt.

The Browns’ defense forced a three-and-out with two pressures and a pass breakup by CB Denzel Ward, so the Jets punted back to Cleveland, who took over at the 40 yard line. Mayfield got three completions to Hooper to move into field goal range, setting up a 44-yard field goal by K Cody Parkey, who drilled it to give the Browns the early 3-0 lead.

The Jets picked up a couple of first downs on their next drive, but on a third down just beyond field goal range, DE Myles Garrett dumped QB Sam Darnold for a sack to force a punt.

Cleveland ran the ball twice with RB Nick Chubb on their next series, but it only gained one yard. On 3rd-and-9, Mayfield targeting a wide receiver for the first time, WR Ja’Marcus Bradley, but it was only for a gain of 6 yards, leading to another punt.

The Jets drove to midfield on their next drive, and then just before the end of the first quarter, they pulled off some trickery — a couple of pitches led to WR Jamison Crowder throwing the ball to Braxton Berrios for a 43-yard touchdown to give the Jets a 7-3 lead.

The final play of the first quarter saw Mayfield complete a 13-yard pass to Bryant.

2nd Quarter

The second quarter started off disastrous for Cleveland, as the Jets brought pressure and forced a fumble on Mayfield and recovering at the 30 yard line.

A 14-yard end around on first down by Crowder moved the Jets closer to scoring range. A few plays later on 3rd-and-5, the Browns’ defense had another breakdown in coverage as Darnold found TE Chris Herndon wide open for an 11-yard touchdown to give the Jets a 13-3 lead. DT Sheldon Richardson blocked the extra point to keep the deficit at ten.

The Browns had moved the ball to the Jets’ 31 yard line on their next drive, with the help of a roughing the passer penalty. But then Hunt was hit for a 2 yard loss on first down, and RG Nick Harris was beat off the snap on second down, leading to a 9-yard sack and eventually a punt by P Jamie Gillan to the 10 yard line.

Darnold scrambled for 11 yards to start the next drive, but then on second down, as he was winding up to throw, Garrett came around the edge to knock the ball up into the air! LB Malcolm Smith recovered at the 20 yard line and would have had a walk-in touchdown, but the officials blew the play dead and ruled it an incomplete pass. Head coach Kevin Stefanski threw the challenge flag, but the ruling on the field stood somehow!?! What the f&$%?

The Jets eventually punted from midfield, but Cleveland’s offense had to take over at the 9 yard line with 5:05 to play in the first half. After a couple of passes to TE David Njoku, the drive stalled with another sack by the Jets’ defense. The Jets took over again at midfield with 2:20 to go in the first half. A sack by DE Olivier Vernon helped prevent the Jets from adding any more points. The Jets punted, but only 0:44 were left on the clock for Cleveland with 1 timeout at the 30 yard line.

An 8-yard pass to hunt led to Cleveland taking their final timeout at the 38 yard line. A short completion to Hooper got the ball to near midfield with 0:22 left. A 10-yard completion got it to the 43 yard line with 0:09 left. Gillan came on to try a 61-yard field goal, but it didn’t have anywhere close to the distance. The Jets tried to return the short field goal but were stopped to end the half.

3rd Quarter

New York received the ball to begin the third quarter, and marched right down the field. Crowder and blown coverages continued to kill Cleveland’s defense, and SS Karl Joseph’s struggles in particular continued. The 30-yard wheel route touchdown to Crowder gave the Jets a 20-3 lead with 10:26 left in the third quarter.

Harris was flagged for clipping to begin the next drive, putting the Browns in a 1st-and-21 hole. The Browns got it down to a 3rd-and-5 situation, but Mayfield’s pass was high and incomplete, leading to a punt and the Jets having good field position again at the 37 yard line.

Cleveland’s defense forced a punt after the Jets got to midfield, but backup S Jovante Moffatt roughed the punter trying to block it, leading to a first down for the Jets. Oddly enough, it ended up helping the browns in field position because the Jets eventually tried a 50-yard field goal that was blocked by Richardson, allowing the offense to take over at the 40 yard line with 5:41 to go in the third quarter.

Mayfield got a couple of completions to Bradley, including a 22-yard back shoulder throw, while also mixing in screen passes to Chubb and Hunt. On 2nd-and-goal from the 1 yard line, Chubb was able to punch it into the end zone for a touchdown, cutting the Jets’ lead to 20-10 with 2:56 to go in the quarter.

Cleveland’s defense forced a three-and-out, getting the ball back at the 17 yard line with 1:21 left in the third quarter. The Browns moved the ball to the Jets’ 42 yard line to end the quarter, as Mayfield started to build a rhythm with Bradley, including a 17-yard pass.

4th Quarter

Chubb opened the fourth quarter with a 16-yard run, the team’s best rush of the day to get to the 26 yard line. On 3rd-and-10, the Jets were flagged for pass interference, a bit of a lucky call, to put the ball at the 15 yard line. A run by Hunt set up a 3rd-and-1 from the 6 yard line, and Mayfield ran the sneak to move the chains. On 1st-and-goal from the 4 yard line, Hunt ran the ball in along the left side for a 4-yard touchdown, making it a 20-16 game with 12:38 to go in the game. Of course, Parkey pulled the extra point off the left upright, keeping it a 4-point game.

The Browns’ defense faced a pivotal 3rd-and-5 at midfield, and the defense brought the blitz and FS Andrew Sendejo made a big tackle to force a punt. Cleveland’s offense took over at the 14 yard line with 7:25 to go, potentially with everything on the line.

After getting a couple of yards, Mayfield missed Bradley on a double move, and then Bradley was flagged for a block in the back on the next play. Cleveland punted back to the Jets, who took over at the 35 yard line with just over 6 minutes to go. on 3rd-and-9, the Jets picked up a first down with a dumpoff over he middle. On 3rd-and-6, Darnold’s pass up the sideline was broken up by Ward.

The Jets punted, and Mayfield got one more chance to save the day with 4:05 to go, needing to drive 89 yards. It didn’t go well — on a 3rd-and-6, Mayfield tried to buy time, but was stripped from behind, and the Jets’ defense recovered at the 17 yard line.

The defense faced a 3rd-and-4, needing a stop to extend the game. Darnold had no one to throw it, and Garrett helped force an incompletion. The Jets settled for a 34-yard field goal, giving the Jets a 23-16 lead with 2:52 remaining.

The Jets gave the Browns some help by kicking the kickoff out of bounds, setting the ball up at the 40 yard line, needing 60 yards for a touchdown (and extra point to tie it). The drive started with a 24-yards screen pass to Hunt, followed by an 8-yard pass to Hooper. Mayfield’s second down pass to Hooper was incomplete, setting up 3rd-and-2 with 1:59 to go.

As the two-minute warning hit, the Steelers defeated the Colts, at least allowing fans to know that the Browns would still control their playoff hopes with a win next week (or this week).

Hunt picked up a first down on the ground, but Bryant dropped the next pass. Mayfield took a shot for Bradley on second down, but the safety jarred the ball free with a big hit. Mayfield connected with Hooper for 9 yards, setting up 4th-and-inches. Mayfield went for the quarterback sneak again, but the Jets forced a fumble before he could get the first down to win the game.

Cleveland needs a win against Pittsburgh next week to make the playoffs.

Up Next

The Browns will play at home on Sunday, January 3, in their Week 17 match-up against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The time of the game is pending.

Quick Hitter Stats

  • QB Baker Mayfield: 28-of-53 for 285 yards, 3 fumbles.
  • RB Nick Chubb: 11 carries, 28 yards, 1 TD. 5 catches, 38 yards.
  • RB Kareem Hunt: 4 carries, 11 yards, 1 TD. 3 catches, 41 yards.
  • TE Austin Hooper: 7 catches, 71 yards.

Quick Hitter Notes

  • Dammit.


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