Thursday, Apr 26, 2018
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Browns gamble for victory; Jets tag them with OT loss

CLEVELAND - Where's the coaching manual that prepares a team for what the Browns faced at the end of overtime Sunday?

Pressed at their own 3-yard line with 1:35 left, the Browns had to choose between leaving this street fight with the haughty New York Jets with a win or a tie. They chose to try to win and wound up with a loss.

After a Colt McCoy deep pass on first down sailed over the head of tight end Benjamin Watson, who was open, the Browns were forced to punt out of their end zone. The Jets took possession at the Browns' 37 with 24 seconds left.

On first down, Mark Sanchez hit Santonio Holmes with a quick inside slant. Holmes did the rest, sparing his team from relying on kicker Nick Folk, who missed three field goals on the day. Holmes hit a second gear to fly past Eric Wright, sidestepped a flat-footed T.J. Ward, and sauntered to the end zone for a 26-20 Jets win.

The winning points were posted with 16 seconds left, avoiding the Browns' first overtime tie since 1989.

"I was just stunned. A real heartbreaker," Browns defensive back Mike Adams said.

But nobody disagreed with coach Eric Mangini's decision to take a shot downfield and go for the win. After McCoy's surprise pass for Watson whizzed incomplete, the Browns were in no-man's land and sought to avoid a killer turnover. The Jets clamped down and stopped Peyton Hillis for two yards and then sacked

McCoy for three back to the 2-yard line.

"We could have run it three times and run out the clock, but I thought we had a chance [to move downfield]," Mangini said.

The ending spoiled an inspired performance by the Browns' defense and a veteran-like TD drive by McCoy to tie the game in the final minutes of regulation.

The Browns watched agonizingly as the Jets possessed the ball for roughly 23 of the second half's 30 minutes. Sanchez wriggled out of numerous near-sacks to keep drives alive. The Jets only cashed in for three points, though, as Folk's field goal attempt after a 10-minute drive to open the third quarter banged the right upright from 24 yards.

Down 20-13, McCoy coolly moved his offense 59 yards in 10 plays. Watson made two clutch catches, and Evan Moore outwrestled All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis for another before Mohamed Massaquoi tucked in McCoy's TD pass from three yards out.

All of which brought Brown, a savvy veteran of nine NFL seasons, to observe, "[McCoy] is a special player. The poise is unreal for a rookie. I never saw anything like that for a rookie. The way the offense plays so hard for him. That whole drive, to see a rookie do that with calm [is unusual]."

McCoy had the Browns on the move on their first possession of overtime after the Jets had to punt. But receiver Chansi Stuckey had the ball pried loose as he fought for extra yardage after a catch, and Antonio Cromartie recovered at the Jets' 36.

Besides the pass at the end for Watson, McCoy also overthrew Massaquoi, who got behind the defense deep in Jets' territory with 3:18 left in overtime.

The second half was frustrating for the offense because of the Jets' time-consuming drives and their defensive clampdown on Hillis. Hillis had 60 yards, including a 12-yard TD run, in the first half as the Browns held leads of 3-0, 10-3, and 13-10. The Jets pulled ahead 17-13 on a one-yard run by Sanchez just before halftime. Hillis finished with 82 yards on 19 carries.

The Browns inherited the ball at their 3 on the fateful final series when Joe Haden intercepted Sanchez's underthrown deep pass for Edwards.

"Anytime you're in a game like that, you just cannot lose those," McCoy said. "We had our chances. We had opportunities, and we let them get away from us. We never thought we were going to lose the game."

"We can play with anybody, and we'll fight anybody," Mangini said.

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