Escape From Cleveland; Jets Outlast Browns in 26-20 OT Victory

Berea, OH.- The Jets sure have a flair for the dramatic these days. They have also developed a knack for winning games at the last possible moment and today’s last overtime seconds are the most bafflingly stunning example of this.

The momentum of this game swung back and forth like a pendulum. The Browns offense started the game moving the ball with relative ease, but the Jets were matching their every move and eventually seemed to grasp control of the game, before giving the momentum back to the Browns.

Still through all the ups (a return of the rushing game) and downs (more penalties, missed field-goals and an injury to Sanchez’s calf), the Jets somehow managed to escape with another late game thriller.

Last week Nick Folk didn’t realize the field-goal he was kicking in overtime was to win the game, today he knew the significance of his overtime attempt and today he shank-ed it. This was not Folk’s only miscue of the game, but his teammates found a way to save him from being the proverbial goat of the game, instead that title will go to ex-Jet Chansi Stuckey.

Jets WR Santonio Holmes dashes for the winning score in overtime as the Jets beat Clevland. (JetsInsider.com Photo)

Folk was enjoying a very solid season before today, when his troubles had to invoke the memory of Doug Brien for many Jets fans. Folk went two-for-five on field-goal attempts including a 24-yard chip shot he clanked off the uprights wasting a 19 play drive that ate up 65 yards in 10 minutes and four seconds, with the Jets looking to add to their 17-13 lead.

After 41 minutes of no punts from either team, the Browns were finally forced to punt, setting off a chain reaction of four more straight drives ending in punts with the score still 17-14. When the Jets got the ball back with 10:27 left in the fourth, it looked like they were about to put the game away as they once again did a great job of milking the clock, running 13 plays for 56 yards taking 7:45 off the clock.

The Jets couldn’t quite finish the game off though as the offense failed to score a touchdown on third-and-three from the Cleveland seven-yard-line and had to settle for a field-goal, one of the two Folk made on the day, to keep the Browns within a touchdown, 20-13, with 2:42 to play.

One minute and 58 seconds later the Browns had traveled 59 yards when Colt McCoy hit Mohamed Massaquoi for a three-yard TD pass to tie the game with 44 seconds left and send the Jets into their second straight overtime. Only this one wouldn’t be over as quickly and easily as last week and the Jets needed every last minute of overtime to pull out the victory today.

The Jets won the coin-toss in overtime, but couldn’t take advantage of getting the first attempt as they were forced to punt and considering the way the Browns offense moved the ball on the Jets defense in the game tying drive like it was a game of Madden set on rookie mode, things were not looking good for the Jets.

All that would change in the blink of an eye though. As McCoy hit the aforementioned Stuckey on third-and-four, Stuckey caught the ball then shattered Bryan Thomas’ ankles as he spun away and darted down the sidelines to the Jets 32-yard-line before Drew Coleman came in and tore the ball right from Stuckey’s paws, leaving Antonio Cromartie to pounce on the loose football. Turning what was going to be a first-down in field-goal range for the Browns into the Jets ball at their own 36.

After a couple of nice runs by Shonn Greene and an unbelievable catch by Jericho Cotchery who hurt himself before the pass was thrown to him, but still somehow managed to dive extending all out to grab the pass and turn his hands and body to place them between the ball and the ground and pick up a huge first-down.

But, at last it was all for naught as Folk once again missed another field-goal, this one from 47 yards that would have won the game. Instead the Browns got another crack at it, in fact they would get two more chances, but were forced into three-and-outs both times.

The second time proving to be too much for the Browns to overcome even though they were a mere 24 seconds away from the game ending in a tie when they punted the ball back to the Jets.

After Sanchez essentially threw a punt on third-and-14 from their own 46 that was intercepted by Joe Haden on the Browns three-yard-line, the Jets defense forced a three-and-out and the Browns had to punt from the back of their end zone. Jim Leonhard fielded the punt and maneuvered his way through the defense for 18 yards taking the ball to the Cleveland 37-yard-line.

There were only 16 seconds left in overtime when the Jets snapped the ball on the first , and only, play of the drive, but that was 15 more seconds than needed. Just like last week Sanchez hit Santonio Holmes on a quick slant, but this time he swerved his way through three defenders and left them in his dust as he ran for 37 yards into the end zone as his teammates joined him in celebrating their second straight overtime victory.

And Jets fans worldwide breathed a collective shy of relief.

Game Notes and Stats:

Mark Sanchez survived a scare after he got pummeled to the ground by three different Browns defenders and his leg buckled under them. He returned on the very next drive, but was clearly hobbled as the Jets offense began to sputter. Eventually Sanchez shook off the injury, even seeming to magically avoid a couple of crucial near-sacks to make plays, and finished the day 27-44 for 299 yards for two passing touchdowns and a rushing touchdown and the one punt disguised as a interception.

The Jets ran the ball 45 times for 172 yards (20 carries for 72 yards for Greene, 18 carries for 57 yards by L.T., five carries for 39 yards by Brad Smith and two carries for four yards by Sanchez).

Braylon Edwards had four receptions for 59 yards, L.T. had six for 53, Cotchery had an early touchdown pass where he was wide-open and the previously mentioned huge third-down grab and Holmes finished with five catches for 76 yards including the game-winning touchdown. For the third time this season Holmes has made a game-winning play in the final minutes (Denver, Detroit and today).

The defense shifted back and forth from dominate to laughable depending on which drive you were watching, but after allowing Peyton Hillis to get going in the first-half to the tune of 60 yards on 10 carries, the Jets made the proper half-time adjustments and held Hillis to only 22 yards on nine carries the rest of the game.

With this win the Jets improve to 7-2, but maybe more impressive is the fact that they are 5-0 on the road and have won their past eight consecutive regular-season road wins.

Next Sunday the Jets host the struggling Houston Texans team who suffered a heartbreaking loss of their own on a last-second hail-mary play to the Jaguars.

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