*Updated, 6:30 p.m. ET
*It wasn't pretty in Cleveland, and we mean the weather as well as the game. The Jets struggled through a damp, sometimes rainy first half in which they fell behind, 20-7, to the winless Browns.
But even though the sun didn't come out in the second half, the Jets finally began to shine. Sparked by WR Quincy Enunwa's two big YAC receptions, Matt Forte's and Bilal Powell's smooth running, and key contributions and a scoreless second half by the defense against the Browns' offensive stars, the Jets prevailed, 31-28, improving their record to 3-5 and extending the Brownies' losing streak to eight.
"It was all about attitude," Jets coach Todd Bowles said. "We needed an attitude check. We didn't come out with an attitude in the first half, which we preached all week in practice. We came out in the second half with a bunch of attitude and played a different type of game."
The win is one of the greatest second-half comebacks in franchise history. The 13-point halftime deficit was the fourth-largest ever overcome by the Jets and the largest ever on the road, topping a pair of 11-yard deficits, at Denver in '78 and at Oakland in '03.
Here are 10 observations on this win that takes the Jets into Miami next week on a two-game win streak:
1. Rough Way to Start
The fans were sparse in the stands but boisterous, and the Browns responded with a fired-up start, all the way from their first play — Josh McCown's seam route for TE Gary Barnidge for 32 yards on new ILB starter Julian Stanford — to their last, McCown's rollout dart for WR Andrew Hawkins in the end zone past Marcus Williams for a 5-yard touchdown to open the scoring.
2. The Deficit Grows
The Jets defense pitched a 3-and-out on their second drive, then yielded 59 yards on Drive No. 3 before stiffening. Cody Parkey's 41-yard field goal gave the Browns a 10-0 lead, their largest first-quarter lead over the Jets in the last 22 games. Their only larger lead in the opening period was in the teams' first meeting on Monday Night Football in 1970, by 14-0. The feeling wasn't good for how the visitors had opened this game.
3. Responding with a Ker-Powell
The Jets' offense got untracked with an 87-yard march to an electric 35-yard touchdown run by Bilal Powell on third-and-10. Powell burst up the middle, cut it outside and tightroped the last 10 yards to the left pylon to cut the visitors' deficit to 10-7. The last time the Jets had a longer TD run was by Chris Ivory on opening day 2014 vs. Oakland, a 71-yarder.
"The running game is like a best friend for a quarterback to be able to run the ball like that," said Fitzpatrick, who saw Forté (82 yards), Powell (76 yards) and the Jets ground game (171 yards) help get the offense over the hump after intermission.
4. Browns' New/Old QB
McCown, in his first start since Game 2, was having success finding the Browns' most dangerous receiver, Terrelle Pryor, often covered by CB Darrelle Revis. Completions of 24, 35, 15 and 10 yards all went for first downs. The 10-yarder was part of the Browns' TD drive past the two-minute warning, capped on Isaiah Crowell's 1-yard run. It marked the eighth consecutive time opponents have scored a TD in a goal-to-go situation.
Best Images from the Week 8 Matchup in Cleveland
5. Tough Two Minutes
Meanwhile, Ryan Fitzpatrick was suffering through an unsuccessful first half of finding his receivers. He completed three of his 14 passes in the half for 30 yards, with three of his throws batted down behind the line, two by DE Carl Nassib. And when the Jets got the ball back with 1:51 left in the half and a chance to put together their second two-minute TD of the year, Fitzpatrick was sacked once, threw two incompletions, and gave the Browns a chance for their own two-minute chance, which they converted on Parkey's 27-yard FG for a 20-7 halftime lead.
6. Q-ing It Up, Then Q-ing It Up Again
Just when the Jets needed a wakeup call, Fitzpatrick and Enunwa provided one. "Q" capped a 78-yard drive with another of his relentless YAC plays, this time juking and fighting through four Browns defenders to get to the goal line for the 24-yard score. Again the Jets cut their deficit down, this time to 20-14. Then on the next series Fitz found Q again, this time off play-action and single coverage by CB Jamar Taylor for a 57-yard catch-and-run to the Browns 13.
Those passes were part of Fitzpatrick's big second-half turnaround. After 3-for-14, 30-yard passing in the first half, he went 13-for-20 for 198 yards and a TD in the second half. "We played some bad football," Fitz said about the first half. "At halftime, we had to stay with it, pick ourselves up, stick to the game plan, make a few adjustments, but really, just make plays."
7. Guts and Glory
That set up fourth-and-1 at the Browns 4 and a decision by Bowles. This time he decided to go for it — and the ball went to Forté, who flowed off his left side behind blocks by James Carpenter and Ryan Clady for the 4-yard score. Nick Folk's extra point then made it 21-20, Jets, for their first lead of the game with 2:11 left in the third quarter. Was the Browns' second-half meltdown under way?
"We came here to win," Bowles said. "We had already scored a touchdown and we got all the way down the field. We had some momentum, so it was my decision to go for it."
8. Gilchrist Grab
Everything started turning the Green & White way as the fourth quarter unfolded. After Forté's second score, McCown and the Browns tried to go to the well, meaning Pryor, once too often. Pryor was double-covered by Revis and S Marcus Gilchrist, with Gilly making the sprawling interception at the Jets 24. It was the game's first takeaway, Gilchrist's second pick this year and his fifth as a Jet.
9. Another Terrific Takeaway
Two young Jets defenders combined to set up the offense's fifth score of the game. First rookie Juston Burris smartly grabbed Lachlan Edwards' drop punt on the bounce and downed it at the Cleveland 1. From there McCown proceeded to turn the ball back over on a deflected pass that second-year LB Lorenzo Mauldin grabbed at the Browns 8. Three plays later, Nick Folk came on for a 24-yard field goal and a 31-20 lead with 4:04 to play. It increased the Jets' most points in a game in Cleveland since 1978, when the Jets dropped a 37-34 OT decision to the Browns.
10. Brandon Caps It
McCown led the Browns 14 plays and 84 yards against the Jets' prevent to another short TD flip to Hawkins and then the two-point slant to Pryor. With 12 seconds left, Parkey went for the hopping onside kick. But Brandon Marshall, who had a quiet four catches for 68 yards, was ready to snare the hopper for his third onsides kick recovery as a Jet, and this win was finally in the books.
"I think this is something we can ride," Enunwa said, "hopefully all the way to the bye week. We want to keep winning."