Analyzing four key moments in the Browns' 17-14 loss to the Jets.
- The Browns were on the cusp of their first lead of the season early in Sunday's game when they faced a third-and-goal at the Jets' 3-yard line. At worst, the Browns should have come away with a chip shot field goal.
Instead, the Jets took over following a botched option play between DeShone Kizer and Isaiah Crowell.
The play was Cleveland's 14th of a methodical march that began at its own 43-yard line. The Browns chipped and chipped away at the Jets defense until Kizer broke off an 18-yard run to set up first-and-goal at the 6. Cleveland got 3 yards on the first two plays before Kizer rolled to his right and threw an option pitch to Crowell that was slightly ahead of him. The ball was never officially secured, and New York's Freddie Bishop fell on it.
"I had the option to run there," Kizer said. "I tried to put the ball in front of him, allow a running back to get to the pylon. Obviously, it was not an adequate pitch for a catch."
Unfortunately for the Browns, the play wasn't the last unfortunate one inside the red zone.
- A Jason McCourty interception set up the Browns with prime field position midway through the second quarter, but another red zone turnover prevented the offense from coming away with any points.
Cleveland didn't have a play longer than 10 yards on the drive, but it found itself on the 4-yard line after Kizer completed a 4-yard pass to Kasen Williams. On third-and-3, Kizer rolled to the right and fired a pass to Seth DeValve, but rookie safety Marcus Maye read it to perfection and came away with an interception.
It was one of the last throws for Kizer, who was on the sidelines for the entire second half. He finished 8-of-17 for 87 yards and the interception.
"Frustrated for sure," Kizer said. "My job as a quarterback here is to do whatever I can to help win. It is tough to do that when you are not in the game due to poor performance."
- With Kevin Hogan in for Kizer, the Browns offense got some juice to start the second half and promptly responded with a touchdown.
The drive was methodical and included a big third-down conversion, as Hogan found Crowell for a 4-yard pass on third-and-3 inside Jets territory. The 10th and final play was, perhaps, Cleveland's top highlight of the day, as Hogan found tight end David Njoku in the corner of the end zone for a 21-yard touchdown. Njoku leapt and made a diving, one-handed catch to secure his third touchdown of the season.
"He has been playing in the system," Browns coach Hue Jackson said of Hogan. "He is a guy who has some familiarity with what we are doing, how we do it and he did a good job. That is why I made him the backup quarterback."
- The Browns were on the verge of tying the score or reclaiming the lead early in the fourth quarter when they arrived at a fourth-and-1 at the Jets' 4-yard line.
After initially bringing the field goal unit onto the field, Jackson called timeout. The offense returned, and Crowell had the ball in his hands with a chance to pick up a big first down.
He had nowhere to run.
Crowell was stuffed and the Browns turned the ball over on downs trailing 10-7 early in the fourth quarter. The Jets subsequently drove the length of the field for a game-sealing touchdown.
"Obviously, they stopped us," Jackson said. "That call, that decision can be questioned, I get it, but at the same time, I felt good that we could make a yard and a half in that particular point in time in that situation with that play and if we didn't we would hold them down there. Neither one of those things happened. We didn't make it and we weren't able to keep them back there."