Trevor Siemian and the Jets were chasing the game most of Thursday night against the Cleveland Browns. Opportunities to bite into the Browns' early lead came and went in the second half, and each time the Jets failed to take advantage.
After the teams combined for 51 points in the first half, neither scored in the third quarter and each team only added a fourth-quarter field goal as the Browns clinched a postseason berth with a 37-20 decision over the Jets.
"When you play a group like that, the margin for error is really thin," said Siemian, who completed 32-of-45 passes for 231 yards with an early TD pass and a first-quarter interception that was returned for a Cleveland TD. It was his second-straight start this season for the Jets. "So you get your opportunities and you have to hit'em and we didn't get enough of them."
Cleveland opened the game going 75 yards for a TD, but the Jets immediately answered back when they scored their first opening drive touchdown of the season, matching their total from last season.
On that opening drive, Siemian moved the team down the field with alacrity -- he hit Garrett Wilson (5 receptions, 50 yards) with a feathered pass on the sideline for 22 yards, then found Breece Hall (13 carries/84 yards; 9 receptions/42 yards) who glided into the end zone from 21 yards out. With his 50 receiving yards against the Browns, Wilson reached 1,000 yards receiving for the second consecutive season
The Browns (11-5) quickly took back the lead, then upped their advantage to 20-7 when Ronnie Hickman stepped in front of a pass intended for Wilson and returned it 30 yards for the TD.
"I threw to the wrong guy," Siemian said. "He got me in coverage in the middle. The safety came out of the middle and just got me."
From untimely penalties (12 for 75 yards) to a blocked field-goal attempt that ended a nice drive to start the second half to squeezing only 3 points from a turnover after Jermaine Johnson recovered a fumble at the Cleveland 35 -- the game seemed to be emblematic of a difficult season that will end Jan. 7 at New England.
The Browns offense put up 27 points in the first half and dominated statistically, with more plays (39-23), first downs (17-6) and time of possession (18:55 to 11:05) while the Jets could muster only 46 passing yards and 43 on the ground.
"They [the Browns' defense] are what they are, the best in the league or one of the best in the league," Siemian said "So we knew we had our hands full. I'm proud of the way our guys fought."
Entering the game, Cleveland had allowed an average of 13.1 points per game while losing only once in eight home games this season The Browns defense sacked Siemian twice, had 7 TFL, and hit Siemian 5 times while the secondary collected 7 passes defensed.
Although the Jets had more of the ball in the second half and the defense clamped down on QB Joe Flacco, who registered the first 300-plus-yard game against the Jets in 34 games, the Jets failed to convert a fourth-down attempt and committed several presnap penalties that contributed to ending drives.
"We had the ball a little longer in the second half, ran the ball really well tonight," Siemian said "It was good to see Breece get some space, but again, the margin for error against defense like this is just so thin. We just didn't get it done."
See the best game action photos during Thursday night's game against the Browns.