Once again it did not look pretty but the New York Jets still managed to defeat the Cleveland Browns, 10-7, and improve their record to 7-3. Although the outcome could have been totally different if Cleveland's kicker Phil Dawson had not missed two field goals.
The Jets looked totally unprepared and out of sync in the first half, as they punted on 7 of their 9 first half possessions. The game-opening drive, on which the Gang Green gained 35 yards and advanced the ball to the Browns' 25-yard line where PK Doug Brien missed a field goal, turned out to be their best possession of the first half. The Jets went three and out on 4 of their next 7 possessions, as the Browns' defense time after time was going after QB Quincy Carter, sacking him five times in the first half. Cleveland's offense did not look much better but still managed to capitalize on great field position early in the 2nd quarter and take a 7-0 lead. Later in the same quarter the Browns had an excellent opportunity to extend their lead but PK Phil Dawson, who had converted his previous 27 straight field goal attempts, missed his chance to increase the lead to 10 points.
The Jets came out swinging in the 2nd half, drove 43 yards on 9 plays and cut the lead to 7-3. This burst, however, did not last long as on their next possession the Gang Green once again went three and out and were forced to punt. P Toby Gowin punted to the Browns' 47-yard line where Dennis Northcutt, who was on the receiving end, muffed the punt and gave the Jets a great opportunity to take over this game. On the ensuing play Quincy Carter was sacked for the sixth time and what looked like a possible scoring drive suddenly turned into a 2nd down and 17 on the Jets' 46-yard line. Carter completed an 11-yard pass to WR Justin McCareins and then went for it all on third down - his pass was intercepted on the Browns' 2-yard line and returned for 28 yards. Although TV replays clearly showed that the Browns' defender was down at the 2, coach Herman Edwards once again demonstrated his ineptitude by not challenging the play. Luckily, the Browns just weren't done yet with their gifts. On their first drive of the 4th quarter they missed yet another field goal, leaving the score just where it was - 7-3. That's when the Gang Green finally found the strength to pull their only good drive of the entire contest. Relying exclusively on their running game the Jets easily moved the ball inside Cleveland's territory where Quincy Carter completed a crucial pass to Justin McCareins on 3rd and 11 and then found WR Santana Moss for a gain of another 13 yards. On the next play Carter connected with McCareins on an 11-yard TD pass that sealed the game, 10-7.
RB Curtis Martin became only the second player to start his career with ten straight 1000-yard seasons. He also moved past Tony Dorsett into the 6th place on the all-time rushing list. Curtis ran the ball 17 times for 88 yards before leaving the contest with a knee injury. His replacement, RB LaMont Jordan, added 73 yards on 18 carries. QB Quincy Carter was just 11 out of 20 for 116 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT. Carter was also sacked 6 times. WR Justin McCareins led the team with 6 receptions for 71 yards and scored the game-winning touchdown.
LB Eric Barton recorded the team-high 10 tackles (7 solo). Rookie MLB Jonathan Vilma had 6 tackles (4 solo). Another rookie S Erik Coleman recorded the Jets' only sack of the game and also added 5 tackles (4 solo).
Next Sunday the Jets will travel to Arizona to take on the Cardinals. The kickoff is at 4:15 PM EST.