By: Matthew Carvalho
To kick off the third week of the NFL season, the winless Cleveland Browns took on the New York Jets, led by quarterback Sam Darnold, in Cleveland on Thursday, September 20. Prior to this game, the Browns had not won a game since they defeated the former San Diego Chargers, now the Los Angeles Chargers, 635 days before. Clearly, the Browns were extremely desperate for a win, but so were the Jets, as they hoped to stay on the tail of the AFC East leader, the Miami Dolphins.
For both teams, points were a premium in the first quarter, as neither team scored. However, in the second quarter, both teams began to showcase their offenses, showing the prowess of their running game.
The Jets running-back, Isaiah Crowell, started off the second quarter by breaking through the Cleveland defensive-line to score the game’s inaugural touchdown. The touchdown was a huge blow to the Browns as Crowell had been the Browns’ running-back the previous season and was a member of their historic 0-16 losing team.
Leading 7-0, the Jets scored on their next offensive drive with another rushing touchdown by Crowell. After scoring the touchdown, Crowell went on to celebrate inappropriately, which resulted in a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Tyrod Taylor, the starting quarterback for the Browns, put up poor numbers in the first half. He managed to complete only four out of his 14 passes and racked up 19 passing yards. Taylor rushed four times for a total of 22 yards, but he did not score any touchdowns rushing or passing. Throughout the half, Browns’ fans were chanting the name of the backup quarterback, Baker Mayfield.
Late in the second quarter Taylor was seen in the blue medical tent on the field being checked for injuries. With one minute and 49 seconds left in the second quarter, Taylor was seen leaving the field due to receiving a reported concussion. The Jets then punted to the Browns, who were prepared with a newfangled offense lead by Mayfield.
Cheers from Cleveland’s Dawg Pound emerged as Mayfield made his way onto the field to finish the second quarter. On his first two plays in a regular season game as an NFL quarterback, Mayfield threw two completions for two first downs. On his third play, he fumbled the football, but it was recovered by one of his offensive linemen. The lineman then carried the ball to what would have almost been a first-down, but the referee ruled the ball dead. The drive resulted in the Browns finally getting a number on the scoreboard by kicking a field goal. The score now going into the half was 14-3, with the Jets leading.
The Jets received the ball to start the second half, only to punt it to the Browns who then punted it back to the Jets. In the Jets second drive of the half, Darnold threw a pass to Robby Anderson, who fumbled the football for it to be returned by Cleveland to the Jets’ eight-yard line. Although the Browns were blessed with terrific field position, Cleveland still could not score a touchdown. However, they did tighten the score by kicking a field goal and making the score 14-6, Jets still leading.
With about a minute left in the third quarter, Mayfield threw a 29-yard pass to Landry who made a spectacular catch even with the Jets’ safety, Doug Middleton, attempting to stop the pass from being completed. The Browns’ running-back, Carlos Hyde, rushed for a one-yard touchdown, setting up a decision for Cleveland to kick the extra point or go for two to tie the game. They decided to go for two and hiked the ball to running-back Duke Johnson Jr. Johnson who then pitched the football to Jarvis Landry who finally passed to Mayfield for a successful two-point conversion.
With the score now tied, the Jets carried the ball into the fourth quarter. However, with the Browns’ next drive, Cleveland fans were hopeful that the luckless team would take the lead. Hyde scored the Browns a touchdown with under five minutes left, but there was an illegal blocking penalty on Landry, rendering the touchdown as void.
Nevertheless, Hyde would still go on to take the lead for Cleveland with a touchdown with two minutes and four seconds left in the game. Throughout the rest of the game, Darnold had several chances to come back for the Jets, but instead threw two interceptions. The clock finally ran out and for the first time since 2016, a Browns’ quarterback could kneel to cap off a game and finally bring a victory to Cleveland with a score of 21-17.