It was over. The Jets were facing a certain defeat versus the Cleveland Browns on the road this past Sunday. After Browns running back Nick Chubb scored on a 12-yard rushing touchdown with 1:55 remaining, even with their rookie kicker Cade York missing the extra point, they seemed to have a sure win.
But what happened next hadn’t happened in 20 years. A team blowing a 13-point lead with less than two minutes to play. And it was the Browns who did it in 2001, getting run down by the Chicago Bears. The Jets caught and passed the Browns in the final seconds to take a 31-30 victory, their first of this season following a 24-9 home loss in Week 1.
Receiver Corey Davis’ 66-yard touchdown reception from veteran quarterback Joe Flacco stunned Cleveland, cutting the lead to six with 1:22 left on the clock. It was a breakdown by the Browns defense as Davis was wide open.
“When I threw the ball, I looked and saw nobody [was] anywhere near him,” said the 37-year-old veteran quarterback, who is starting in place of second-year QB Zach Wilson, who is recovering from a preseason meniscus injury.
With no timeouts remaining, an onside kick recovery and another touchdown was still needed for the Jets to win. Miraculously, they accomplished both. “They left the door open just a crack,” said Jets head coach Robert Saleh.
The Jets recovered the kick and then Flacco drove the offense down field 53 yards in nine plays, culminating with a 15-yard touchdown pass to rookie wide receiver Garrett Wilson, his second on the day, evening the score at 30-30 with 22 seconds to go. The extra point by Greg Zuerlein gave the Jets the lead.
The Browns had one more chance to avoid a total collapse but their quarterback Jacoby Brissett threw an interception caught by Jets safety Ashtyn Davis with six seconds to go.
“You look at the score and we’re down with 1:30 left. You know your chances aren’t too hot,” said the dynamic Wilson, who finished with eight catches for 102 yards and two TDs. “They made some miscues. That’s basically what happened.”
The Jets’ win over the Browns was just their second road victory under Saleh, who is in his second season as the Jets head coach. Now 1-1, they will host the defending AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals at MetLife Stadium this Sunday. The Bengals have started this season 0-2. A win for the Jets, who were 4-13 last season, would be the first back-to-back wins for Saleh.