CLEVELAND — The Jets pulled off their most improbable win in recent memory on Sunday, stunning the Browns 31-30 with two touchdowns in the final 90 seconds. Here are some thoughts and observations from the game:
1. The euphoria of this win is going to last for a few days for the Jets until they get back to work on Wednesday. Then, the hard part begins. The Jets need to build off this victory or the meaning of it fades. This was a great win, no doubt about it, but if the Jets lose their next three or four games, it will be less impactful. This game feels like a potential turning point for the Jets. But it also could be a fluky victory. We’ll find out soon enough which one it is.
Give the Jets credit. Last week, in this space, I said the Jets needed to stop talking about being a different team, about being a good team and start proving it. They did that Sunday. This was unlike any other Jets victory I have seen in the last 12 years. The Jets have lost plenty of games in the fourth quarter, but they rarely have won them in the final period, and they definitely have not won them in the final two minutes.
The Jets are tired of hearing about all the losing in recent years. The only way to make that talk go away is to win. The Jets showed on Sunday that they are able to win tough games. Now, they have to keep doing it for this game to truly have magical meaning.
2. After a game like this, you start to think about where this ranks in memorable games with the Jets. I can’t remember a comeback close to this recently. The only one that comes to mind if you go back 22 years is the Monday Night Miracle, when the Jets scored 30 points in the fourth quarter to beat the Dolphins.
As for games that I’ve covered since coming onto the Jets beat in 2011, here are my top five most memorable wins:
1. Dec. 27, 2015: Jets 27, Patriots 20 (OT)
This was an epic win that set the Jets up for a win-and-in scenario in the final game in Buffalo. We all know what happened then, but this game had a huge feel to it and is the last time the Jets beat the Patriots.
It is hard to have perspective on a game that just happened but I don’t think the memory of this one will go away any time soon.
3. Sept. 11, 2011: Jets 27, Cowboys 24
This was played on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 at MetLife Stadium. Darrelle Revis came up with a huge interception to set up the game-winning field goal. This was my first game on the beat and had a truly big game feel to it in Week 1 at night with the Jets coming off an AFC Championship game appearance the year before.
4. Sept. 10, 2018: Jets 48, Lions 17
This was not a particularly good game, but it felt significant because it was Sam Darnold’s debut and after a pick-six on the first play, he played well. We know how it played out but at the time, this game made Jets fans’ imaginations run wild.
5. Oct. 31, 2021: Jets 34, Bengals 31
This one will forever be remembered as the Mike White game. The unknown backup quarterback got his first start and threw for more than 400 yards.
Honorable mention: 2012 season opener vs. Bills; Monday night game in Atlanta in 2013; overtime win over Patriots in 2013; Monday night win over the Colts in 2015; 2019 win over the Cowboys.
3. It was a good day for Joe Douglas and his rookie class. Garrett Wilson played like an absolute stud. The rookie wideout enjoyed being back in Ohio, where he played for the Buckeyes. Wilson had eight catches for 102 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner. But he was not the only rookie who played well. Breece Hall scored a receiving touchdown and led the team with 50 yards rushing, including a rush of 23 yards. Rookie tackle Max Mitchell held his own. Cornerback Sauce Gardner had six tackles and a pass defensed. Micheal Clemons had a quarterback hit. Jermaine Johnson had two tackles.
This rookie class has felt special from the time it was drafted. On Sunday, the rookies provided more hope that the Jets are turning things around.
4. There were plenty of heroes in Sunday’s win, so one group got overlooked a bit. The offensive line did a great job protecting Joe Flacco. The Browns only had four quarterback hits and two sacks. One of those sacks was a clear miscommunication where Myles Garrett was left unblocked.
There were plenty of questions about this offensive line entering the season after they barely played together in training camp. Then, they had a rough Week 1 performance against the Ravens. They played much better against the Browns and were a big reason why the Jets won the game. Flacco is a different quarterback when he is under pressure vs. when he has time to operate. The line gave him time on Sunday and Flacco threw four touchdowns.
This was just the 10th time in Jets history that their quarterback threw for 300 or more yards and four or more touchdowns. Joe Flacco is the first Jets QB to do that since Vinny Testaverde on Oct. 23, 2000 against the Dolphins (aka the Monday Night Miracle). Ken O’Brien did it three times. Joe Namath and Richard Todd did it twice. Pat Ryan and Testaverde did it once.
Surprising snap count
Breece Hall only played 19 snaps on offense. Michael Carter had 43. I’m surprised it was not more balanced.
Robert Saleh gets this one. The Jets coach stuck his neck out this week with the “receipts” quote and then his team backed him up and won an improbable game. Saleh clearly has the backing of the locker room and his players played 60 minutes on Sunday.