It's a well-known saying to let sleeping dogs lie, but Justin Miller added his own personal twist to the longstanding proverb against the Browns Sunday afternoon. Miller, a Jets cornerback and kickoff returner, nearly single-handedly put the Cleveland Dog Pound to sleep on just one play.
Following an incredible 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, Miller turned most cheers to boo's from the crowd that was previously buzzing with deafening emotion.
"The return team has done well. I saw a lane in there and I took it," Miller said. "They blocked like they did all week and have done everything we've asked them to do. It's all you can ask for out of your return team."
The Browns controlled all momentum following a field goal from place kicker Phil Dawson to put them ahead 20-3 with less than four minutes to go in the third quarter. A Jets victory looked almost completely out of reach before Miller got the Green and White back into the game with his second score of the season.
"You have some playmakers like that who make something happen and we have to feed off that," said defensive end Bobby Hamilton of Miller's return. "We have to continue to work hard and believe in each other."
The second-year defensive back hushed the crowd as he passed the goal line and in doing so he rejuvenated the quiet Jets sideline back to life. On the ensuing drive, the Jets defense came out and delivered Charlie Frye's first three-and-out series of the afternoon that consisted of two sacks, one from Bryan Thomas and another from rookie cornerback Drew Coleman. On third and ten, the rookie from TCU beat safety Kerry Rhodes to Frye for his first career sack, forcing the Browns to punt away all momentum.
"There are going to be ups and downs in the game," said Miller of the momentum change. "It's going to swing one way and swing another way but the main part is to get on the field and do things when they count.
"All you can ask for is to go out there and try to compete and play hard and do the things we are coached to do," he added.
Aside from returning four kicks for a 40.2-yard average, Miller's coverage of the Browns passing attack also proved to be a factor as Frye was just 15 of 22 for 141 yards. Miller accounted for three tackles and helped the Jets contain the Browns threats Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow to a combined total of receiving 97 yards.
With the first half winding to a close, Miller broke up a goal line pass attempt to Winslow. Due to the athletic pass deflection, Miller forced the Browns to attempt a field goal, which Dawson missed wide left with just 15 seconds remaining.
Although Miller played consistently throughout the afternoon, it was the Jets as a group who played off-beat. The irregularity throughout the game caught up with them according to Jets first-year coach Eric Mangini.
"I thought on special teams there were some big plays and there were some plays where we weren't consistent on," Mangini said following his team's fourth loss of the season. "As many plays as we made, we gave up some plays there as well."