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Browns suffer improbable collapse, lose home opener 31-30 to Jets

WTF just happened?

New York Jets v Cleveland Browns Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images

What in the world just happened?

After the Browns scored a touchdown with 1:55 remaining, they led 30-17. Cade York, the hero last week, missed an extra point. No biggie, right? Wrong. The defense blew another coverage, leading to a quick 66-yard touchdown pass. Then, the Jets recovered the onside kick and scored the go-ahead touchdown with 0:22 remaining. Brissett was then intercepted after a near-perfect game, trying to get the Browns into field goal range. I’m speechless; there’s no way in a million years I envisioned this being a loss. Let’s get to the full recap.

The Jets received the opening kickoff. After a couple of runs, the Jets faced a 3rd-and-1 and QB Joe Flacco looked like he might have completed a sideline pass for a first down. However, the ruling on the field was incomplete, and the Jets’ challenge was unsuccessful, leading to a punt.

Cleveland’s opening drive began at the 10 yard line, and they proceeded to methodically drive down the field with a mix of quick passes and runs. It was a 14-play, 90-yard drive that lasted 8:37 and was capped off by a 3-yard touchdown run by RB Nick Chubb to give them a 7-0 lead.

The Jets converted one first down via a third down scramble by Flacco, but on their next 3rd-and-2, Flacco tried to pass and it went incomplete. On 4th-and-2, the Jets lined up to punt, but it was a fake, and the punter threw a quick out route to move the chains for a gain of 17 yards. The Jets faced a 3rd-and-2 from the 29 yard line heading to the second quarter. Coming out of the quarter, RB Breece Hall broke free for a 23-yard run. A few plays later, on 3rd-and-goal from the 2 yard line, WR Garrett Wilson beat CB Martin Emerson on the move to the outside, and Flacco connected with him to tie the game at 7-7.

RB Jerome Ford had a nice kickoff return out to the 39 yard line to give the offense good field position on their second drive. QB Jacoby Brissett built a good connection with WR Amari Cooper on the drive, completing passes of 9, 13, and 20 yards to him. Down near the goal line, the officials ruled that Brissett converted a touchdown pass to WR Donovan Peoples-Jones from 6 yards out. Upon further review, the pass was ruled incomplete by a hair, leading to a 3rd-and-goal from the 6 yard line. Cooper continued his big drive, with Brissett darting a touchdown to him up the seam, as the Jets’ defense had confusion and left him open to give the Browns a 14-7 lead.

The Browns’ defense started great on the next drive, as DE Myles Garrett drilled Flacco from behind unblocked, forcing a fumble that the Jets recovered. However, Flacco got it all back and a first down through the air on the next play, and then New York was picking up yards in big chunks on the ground — with a 15-yard facemask penalty by S Grant Delpit putting them in the red zone. The Jets faced a 3rd-and-8 from the 12 yard line, and Flacco was stripped around the edge by DE Jadeveon Clowney, who also recovered the fumble!

Cleveland took over at the 21 yard line with 3:24 left in the second quarter, with a chance to score and get the ball to begin the second half. However, the Jets’ defense stuffed the Browns’ first run play for a loss of four yards. They gave it right back to Chubb on second down for a burst of 32 yards, but two flags were called on Cleveland — both for offensive holding — setting them back even further at 2nd-and-23. A 5-yard pass to RB Kareem Hunt set up 3rd-and-18 at the two-minute warning. Cleveland could only manage a quick catch before punting, and the Jets would then begin at their own 46 yard line with 1:04 to play.

Flacco got the Jets down near the goal line with no timeouts left. His first two passes to the end zone fell incomplete, leaving them one more shot on a third down and 0:15 remaining. Flacco’s third down pass went to the running back in the flat, who was uncovered for the touchdown to tie things up at 14-14. It felt like a weird first half, because Cleveland basically had two long touchdown drives to begin the game, and yet were tied at the intermission.

Cleveland came out of the half with another solid offensive drive, including a 30-yard catch-and-run by TE Harrison Bryant off of a bit of a broken play. A 16-yard pass to Cooper, plus 15 yards tacked on for roughing the passer, got the Browns into a goal-to-go situation. Brissett’s second-down pass to TE David Njoku was caught, but he was out of bounds. On third down, Brissett evaded pressure and tried to find Bryant in the corner, but a defensive back just got a hand on it to break it up. K Cade York came on to hit a 22-yard field goal to give the Browns a 17-14 lead.

The Browns’ defense continued to struggle on third down to get a stop on the Jets’ first drive, but eventually a negative play on 2nd-and-8 for a loss of 6 yards set up a 3rd-and-14 where Flacco had to throw the ball away. With the Jets’ field position, though, they got their punt to roll out of bounds at the 5 yard line, pinning Cleveland back. TE David Njoku had a nice gain for 15 yards to get out of danger zone, but later in the drive, Njoku dropped an open pass on second down. On 3rd-and-10, Brissett’s pass to Cooper picked up 7 yards, leading to a punt. This time it was an outstanding 63-yard punt by Corey Bojorquez, going out of bounds at the 10 yard line to reverse field position.

The Jets kept marching, though, led behind Flacco finding the rookie Wilson a couple of times. New York faced a 2nd-and-5 from the Browns’ 29 yard line heading into the fourth quarter. The Jets started off with a 20+ yard run, but the left tackle was flagged for offensive holding (which seemed like a phantom call), making it a 2nd-and-15. Flacco’s next two passes fell incomplete, and then they brought on K Greg Zuerlein to try a 57-yard field goal. Much like York last week, Zuerlein drilled it to tie the game at 17-17 with 14:19 remaining in the game.

Njoku made another mistake, committing a false start to put the Browns into a 2nd-and-12 situation. A delayed draw to Chubb went for 9 yards to set up 3rd-and-3. Brissett darted another quick pass to Cooper to move the chains. On the next play, Chubb burst right up the middle for a gain of 22 yards. A couple plays later, a screen pass to Chubb picked up 15 more yards to get down to the 22 yard line. RB Kareem Hunt then came on for a burst of 10 yards. Defensive pass interference gave the Browns a fresh set of downs with 1st-and-goal from the 7 yard line.

On 1st-and-goal, Chubb got the handoff and used patience, going behind the block of Jedrick Wills (who was pulling to the right), and then cutting back inside for the touchdown. That put the Browns back on top, 24-17, with 9:21 remaining.

The Jets went three-and-out after Flacco’s third down pass for Wilson fell incomplete. After the punt, the Browns got the ball back at the 31 yard line with 7:37 to go. Cleveland came out aggressive, first with Brissett hitting Cooper along the sideline for 11 yards. Then, Hunt made two great runs of 13 and 11 yards, respectively. He was drilled on the next run for a loss of 5 yards, making it 2nd-and-15 from the 39 yard line. A 3-yard loss then made it 3rd-and-18 from the 42 yard line, and then Brissett was sacked on third down to midfield. That took the decision out of their hands to punt instead of going for a long field goal. After the punt, the Jets took over at the 8 yard line with 4:07 remaining.

The Browns’ defense forced a three-and-out, and with three timeouts remaining, New York opted to punt with under three minutes to play. On 3rd-and-7 after the Jets burning two timeouts, a screen pass to Hunt went for 11 yards and a first down. Hunt ran for another first down with 2:02 left in the game and the Jets all out of timeouts. Chubb went left side and scored from 12 yards out to put the game away for the Browns. York did miss the extra point, keeping it a 30-17 game with 1:55 to go.

Just when you thought the game was for sure over, the Browns’ defense blew another coverage again, allowing WR Corey Davis to go 66 yard untouched to make it a 30-24 game. The Jets lined up for an onside kick, and New York recovered.

On top of all that, Flacco led the comeback, finding Wilson for a 15-yard touchdown to take the lead 31-30 with 0:22 to go.

Brissett scrambled for 21 yards on first down, and could’ve gotten the team in long field goal range with a completion. Instead, he was picked off, completing the disastrous end to the game, losing in improbable fashion. What the [bleep].

I don’t know what to say. Cleveland played about as good as anyone could ask for. In hindsight, perhaps the one thing Chubb could have done is slid down before scoring his touchdown, because the Browns could’ve kneeled the game out from there. Unbelievable.

Quick Hitters

  • QB Jacoby Brissett: 22-of-27 for 229 yards, 1 TD. 6 runs, 43 yards.
  • RB Nick Chubb: 17 rushes, 87 yards, 3 TD. 3 catches, 26 yards.
  • RB Kareem Hunt: 13 rushes, 58 yards. 2 catches, 16 yards.
  • WR Amari Cooper: 9 catches, 101 yards, 1 TD.
  • DE Myles Garrett: 1 sack, 1 forced fumble.
  • DE Jadeveon Clowney: 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery.