Three quick reactions to the Browns' 31-28 loss to the Jets…
2nd half dooms Browns D
The Browns defense opened the game with back-to-back three-and-outs and limited Ryan Fitzpatrick to just three completions in one of the unit's best halves of the season.
The second half went the exact opposite way for the young group, and the Jets came out on top Sunday largely because of it.
Staked to a 20-7, the Browns defense allowed three consecutive touchdown drives, and they all followed a familiar pattern. The Jets used a mix of runs and passes to move the chains and hit the Browns hard with one big play on each possession to turn a 13-point deficit into an eight-point lead they wouldn't relinquish.
On the opening series of the second half, New York took nearly 7 minutes off the clock and punched it in the end zone on a 24-yard Quincy Enunwa touchdown reception. A 57-yard Enunwa reception was the big play on the next possession, and New York took the lead for good on Matt Forte's 4-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-1. A Bilal Powell 20-yard run was the biggest play on a steady Jets drive that ended with another Forte touchdown that made the score, 28-20, early in the fourth quarter.
The three drives combined to span more than 15 minutes, a full quarter's worth. The Jets had just 106 yards of offense in the first half but finished with 393.
Tale of 2 halves for offense, too
Cleveland's offense relied on the pass through a productive first half but the throwing lanes didn't come as easy in the second. Josh McCown put the blame on himself, but it was a unit-wide struggle for a group that clicked at a high level throughout the first 30 minutes.
Going against one of the league's top rush defenses, the Browns knew they'd need to pass to move the ball, and they did at their highest level of the season in Sunday's first half. McCown came out firing on a touchdown drive to start the game, and he finished the half with 228 yards on 16-of-27 throwing. Cleveland had 20 points and appeared poised for more when it returned to the field.
The Browns didn't get back in the end zone until 12 seconds remained in the fourth quarter. McCown threw two interceptions and the Browns couldn't stop the momentum New York was generating from its offense.
The Browns had 133 yards of offense in the second half and possessed the ball for fewer than 9 minutes. Nearly 4 of those 9 minutes of possession came on their final drive of the game.
Browns continue search for finishing touch
The second half hasn't been kind to the Browns all season, and a number of players acknowledged as much after the game.
Browns coach Hue Jackson called it "the story of our season."
"When you have a close game in the second half, you have to be able to make the plays you have to," Browns left tackle Joe Thomas said. "Typically it comes down to a handful of plays. You got to make those plays. You can't just expect the other team to not make plays in the second half. You've got to have kind of a killer instinct when it's winning time."
Asked if his team was only good enough to play a few good quarters and not a full game, Jackson strongly disagreed.
"I am not going to say that," Jackson said. "Whatever it is, Coach Jackson is not getting our guys to do it good enough, so it is not – our players are trying. We just have to keep working at it."
The Browns play the New York Jets in Week 8.