Playing in the Hall of Fame game to open the NFL's preseason slate, the New York Jets dropped a 21-16 contest to the Cleveland Browns Thursday night at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. Two days prior to the Hall inductions of Jets legends Joe Klecko and Darrelle Revis, the Green & White battled the Browns in a game that was predominantly played by backups and roster hopefuls.
With future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers watching from the Jets' sideline, Zach Wilson completed 3-of-5 passes for 68 yards including a 57-yard heave to Malik Taylor. Rookie RB Israel Abanikanda, a fifth-round pick from Pittsburgh, notched the Jets' first TD of the summer on a 10-yard scamper in the second quarter. Rookie DE Will McDonald, the team's first-round pick from Iowa State, was also impressive in his pro debut while T Mekhi Becton got a handful of snaps in his first game action in nearly two years. Robert Saleh said Becton felt something in his knee and that the fourth-year tackle is still gaining confidence after two surgeries.
In addition to Rodgers, the Jets rested more than 25 regulars. In the first half, the Jets scored 10 points off two takeaways — a FF/FR combination from Jamien Sherwood and Javelin Guidry and an INT from LB Chazz Surratt. On the special teams front, Greg Zeurlein hit all three of his attempts including 53- and 54-yard shots plus rookie Xavier Gipson had a 45-yard kick return. But the Browns rallied in the second half, tallying the final 14 points, with the game-winning score coming on a 22-yard pass from Dorian Thompson-Robinson to Austin Watkins Jr.
Thursday night's contest was delayed for nearly 20 minutes following the third quarter when a section of lights went out. The Jets had been 6-0-1 in their last seven preseason games.
The Jets will return to Florham Park tonight and practice on Saturday. Next week, the team will travel to South Carolina for joint practices with the Panthers before the teams meet Saturday night in Charlotte, NC.
See the best photos from the Hall of Fame Game in Canton against the Browns.