As there now appears to be differing reports on the future of head coach Rex Ryan, the New York Jets (7-8) played a turnover-free ballgame and beat the Cleveland Browns (4-11) by the score of 24-13 in their home finale. The Buffalo Bills also won beating the Miami Dolphins, and if the Jets can do so in the season finale then they can spoil it for the Dolphins, who would then be out of the playoffs as well.
The Jets were forced to punt after getting one first down. They decided on a trick play where the up back Josh Bush tried a pass to Isaiah Trufant for the nine yards needed, but the pass fell about a yard short. The Browns drove down but a Calvin Pace sack, his 10th on the season, forced a Billy Cundiff 27-yard field goal. The sack was noteworthy as Pace and Muhammad Wilkerson are the first Jets duo to have double digit sack numbers in the same season.
As the period began with the Browns knocking on the doorstep of the Jets, the Jets received their 50th pre-snap penalty of the season, which leads the NFL. The Jets stopped the Browns but a roughing the passer penalty on Sheldon Richardson, which was a borderline call, put them back to first down and goal at the two yard line. Dee Milliner came up big on third and fourth down, as Cleveland went for it, defending a pass intended for Josh Gordon, and pushing Gordon out on the final play. The Jets then took over at the two yard line and on third down finally moved the ball forward with Geno Smith connecting with Santonio Holmes for 12 yards. They were forced to punt and a good return by the Browns set them up again in Jets territory.
Richardson went down holding his arm on second down after the punt return and didn't return until late in the fourth quarter. Baker ran it in for the touchdown for the Browns on the next play, going right through where Richardson was replaced by Leger Douzable. The Browns were up 10-0. When the Jets got the ball back they began a solid drive with a pass to Kellen Winslow for eight yards on second down. A few plays later, Smith found Jeremy Kerley for 22 yards on third down. Chris Ivory got seven yards to the 46 yard line on second down, and a pass to Jeff Cumberland moved the ball to the Browns 41 yard line. Ivory broke tackles and spun down to the 20 yard line, then Bilal Powell got seven more yards two plays later. Smith connected with Kerley to the eight yard line for first and goal. Smith kept it himself and netted two yards, but then threw a nice pass to David Nelson for the touchdown. After the Jets forced Cleveland to punt, Powell ran for 39 yards on first down. Smith ran for another eight yards himself on the next play and five more just after that. That last run saw the Browns commit an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty moving the Jets ahead 15 more yards. Smith found Winslow for 12 more yards down to the two yard line. The Jets decided on a Nick Folk 21-yard field goal as time expired in the half to tie the game at 10 apiece.
The Jets received the second half kickoff but suffered their 55th three-and-out of the season, most in the NFL. As the Browns drove subsequent to that, Dee Milliner recorded his first career interception and returned it 19 yard to set up the Jets with good field position. Ivory rumbled for 29 yards to the Cleveland 30 yard line on second down, but the drive stalled. Folk attempted a 49-yard field goal that hit the right upright to give them no points off the turnover. On consecutive plays that started the Browns drive, Quinton Coples and Douzable combined on a sack of Campbell, then Wilkerson did the same himself. As the Jets got the ball back, Smith found Powell on a screen for nine yards, then he ran two more yards for the first down. Two plays later, Smith found Cumberland for 18 yards to the 37 yard line of the Browns. Smith found Kerley for 17 more yards and another first down on third down.
After runs by Ivory set them up at the six yard line, Smith found Nelson again for another touchdown. The Jets led 17-10, but the Browns drove down and Cundiff connected again, this time from 21 yards out, to cut the lead to 17-13. The Jets answered that with another touchdown as at first Smith found Nelson for 15 yards on third down. Run plays by Ivory for four yards and Powell for five yards on third down got them another first down. Chris Ivory then gained 14 yards himself on consecutive runs of eight and six more. Geno Smith called his own number for six more yards, then wound up seeing an opening for the 17 yards needed for that aforementioned score. Ed Reed intercepted Jason Campbell with just under two minutes left and a few kneel downs later the game was over.
Now for the New York Jets' 2013 season finale they travel to Miami to face the division rival Dolphins. A victory would mean and 8-8 finish for a team many picked to win less than six games, and the role of spoiler in knocking the Dolphins out of the playoffs.
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