You've got to give David Nelson credit for seeing the error of his ways. For the second time this season the Jets wideout was going up against a team that had cut him this calendar year. But this past week, unlike the week before the Game 10 loss at Buffalo, the loquacious Nelson barely said a peep.
"Because the last time I did, we didn't play very well," Nelson said to laughter all around his corner of our MetLife Stadium locker room following the 24-13 victory over the Browns. "We played Buffalo about five weeks ago and I made a big deal about it. I played a little outside of myself, I tried too hard and tried to make too many things happen. I feel like I didn't play very well and our team didn't play very well, and so this week I tried to play it off like it was nothing."
Et voilà. Nelson was one of a host of offensive stars who pulled the offense up by its proverbial bootstraps midway through the second quarter and got the Green & White moving toward its win.
Nelson's two TD grabs, a 6-yarder from Geno Smith in the middle of the end zone in the second quarter and a 5-yarder from Smith on a corner route at the top of the fourth, were the gems of his game, and not just because it was the first two-TD showing of his four-year career.
"It's crazy because we've been practicing those two plays the past six weeks," he said. "What you saw today was the product of six weeks' work. Those are timing routes. Geno's got to trust that I'm going to be in the right place at the right time. I think you saw that he put it right on the money, right where it needed to be, and I was in the right spot at the right time."
Nelson had just two other receptions for a 33-yard game — WR Jeremy Kerley's five-catch, 70-yard line nearly doubled his production — but the two wideouts showed the way in the Jets' third-down explosion with three conversions each.
Our 12 third-down conversions (in 18 attempts) was our most in a game since the 2000 opener at Green Bay and is one shy of the 13 conversions in the 1998 regular-season finale vs. New England that is our most in a game since 1970.
Calvin Joins the Club
Calvin Pace, Muhammad Wilkerson and others on the Jets defense seemed extremely confident that Pace would get a sack against Cleveland to give him the first 10-sack season of his 11-year career. And indeed, Pace didn't waste any time, taking down Jason Campbell on third down for a 2-yard loss on the Browns' first-quarter field goal drive.
How will he be celebrating his first time in double digits?
"We've got Christmas coming up, so I can't wait to open up presents with the kids. That's how I'm going to celebrate," Pace said. "This year has been great playing with these guys. I really couldn't have done it without them. It's a lot of them and just a little bit of me.
"My job is easy and it's fun when I'm playing with three other great players on the defensive line. I give them a lot of credit, I do, and Rex [Ryan] for believing in an older guy who most people said his best years were behind him."
Pace accepted the razzberries and the congratulations from all around the defense. MLB David Harris, when apprised of the Jets having two double-digit sackers for the first time since Joe Klecko and Mark Gastineau in 1981, said, "Man, that's a long time. Old Man Jones down there, he's having a great year for us. You see him during the week, he puts the effort in. He's been huge for us this year."
Chris Ivory's 109-yard rushing performance was his third 100-yard game this season. Bilal Powell's 39-yard run was the longest of his career. Geno Smith's 48-yard rushing game was his third straight over 40 yards, equaling Al Dorow's franchise mark for QBs set for the 1960 Titans of New York. And the 208 rushing yards were our most since Shonn Greene led a 252-yard outing against the Colts in Game 6 last year.
When it was all said and done, our red zone defense had another strong game, allowing one touchdown (Edwin Baker's 5-yard run in the second quarter) on four visits inside our 20 by the Browns defense. We have now allowed three TDs in our last 18 opponent drives. ... This is the first time we've beaten Jason Campbell as an NFL starting QB. He had wins leading Washington in 2007 and Oakland in '11.