Jamison Crowder caught a touchdown pass and threw a touchdown pass as the New York Jets pulled another stunning upset, this time 23-16 over the visiting, short-handed Cleveland Browns on Sunday at East Rutherford, N.J.
Crowder, uncovered, hauled in a 30-yard touchdown from Sam Darnold early in the third quarter as the Jets (2-13) took a 20-3 lead.
Crowder had seven catches for 92 yards, and added a touchdown pass, while Darnold finished 16-of-32 for 175 yards and two TDs.
The Browns (10-5), who entered with a chance to clinch a playoff berth, played without a half-dozen starters. Starting offensive linemen Jedrick Wills (illness) and Wyatt Teller (ankle), linebackers B.J. Goodson and Jacob Phillips and the team’s top four wide receivers – Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins, rookie Donovan Peoples-Jones and KhaDarel Hodge – all were unavailable due a combination of injury, positive COVID-19 tests and contact tracing.
Frank Gore rushed for 48 yards on 14 carries and became the third player in NFL history to rush for at least 16,000 yards in a career, joining Emmitt Smith and Walter Payton. It was the first home win this season for the Jets, who snapped an 0-13 start by beating the Rams last weekend in Los Angeles.
Cleveland entered as the third-best rushing team in the NFL but finished with just 45 yards on the ground. Baker Mayfield connected on 28 of 53 passes for 285 yards but was sacked four times and lost two of his three fumbles. Leading rusher Nick Chubb was held to 28 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries.
The Browns closed the gap to 20-10 late in the third on Chubb’s 1-yard touchdown plunge. Cleveland drew closer after Kareem Hunt capped a 12-play, 83-yard drive with a 4-yard touchdown run. Cody Parkey missed the PAT however, and the Browns trailed 20-16 with 12:38 left.
The Browns had two fourth-quarter possessions with a chance to take the lead. On the first, Tarell Basham sacked Mayfield and forced a fumble that the Jets recovered at the Cleveland 17 with 3:13 to go.
New York’s Sam Ficken hit a 34-yard field goal four plays later with 2:56 remaining.
The Browns’ last possession crested at the Jets’ 16-yard line. Facing fourth-and-short, Mayfield tried to move the chains on a sneak but lost the football on another hit from Basham. Hunt recovered the fumble across the line to gain, but inside of two minutes the ball is placed back at the spot of the fumble, which was short of the line to gain.
Cleveland had just two scoring opportunities in the first half, one of which was Jamie Gillian’s 61-yard field goal attempt on the final play of the first half that came up well short.
The Jets led 13-3 at the half and dominated the first two quarters. Cleveland managed just 103 yards in the half, didn’t score after Parkey’s 44-yard field goal at the 9:30 mark of the first quarter, and netted just 4 rushing yards on 12 carries.
New York used a trick play to grab the lead as flanker Crowder threw a 43-yard touchdown pass to Braxton Berrios on a reverse pass for a 7-3 lead with 0:42 left in the first. The Jets cashed in the half’s only turnover, a Mayfield fumble on a sack, when Darnold found Chris Herndon with an 11-yard touchdown early in the second quarter. The PAT was blocked, and New York led 13-3.
With the Indianapolis Colts also losing on Sunday, the Browns still control their own playoff fate. Cleveland will clinch a playoff spot with a win in Week 17 against visiting Pittsburgh.