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Clutch Players of the Game

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3 Clutch performers who helped the Browns defeat the Jets in Week 17


The Browns are clicking at the right time as they defeated the Jets 37-20 for their fourth straight win and clinched their spot in the playoffs. It's the first time the Browns won four consecutive games this season. The last time the Browns won four in a row was in 2020 when they advanced to the second round of the playoffs. 

As a result, it's time to recognize three players who contributed with clutch performances.

QB Joe Flacco

QB Joe Flacco has led the Browns to a touchdown on the opening drive in four of his five starts this season. Flacco took the Browns down the field on a seven-play, 75-yard drive on Thursday's opening drive that ended with a seven-yard touchdown pass to RB Jerome Ford. 

Later in the first half, with 2:02 left, with a swift dash outside the pocket to his left, he connected again with Ford, who was waiting wide open and ran down the field for a 50-yard touchdown, sealing Cleveland's 34-point scoring spree.

Flacco threw three touchdowns in the first half and passed for 296 yards, the most in any half of his career, according to ESPN. He has thrown for over 300 yards in every game of the four-game winning streak.

He finished the game by throwing for 309 yards and completing 19 of 29 passes. He had a QBR of 53.6 but a passer rating of 121.1.

"Joe is, I think, very excited to have his family here watching him," HC Kevin Stefanski said. "It's a special moment for them. Again, it's a great story. I know you guys love this story, but I'm just happy for Joe. I'm happy for him having this success, being a part of a football team. He's got something left in the tank."

TE David Njoku

In Thursday's game against the Jets, TE David Njoku stepped up as one of the primary targets for Flacco when it was announced pre-game that WR Amari Cooper wouldn't be able to go.

Njoku dominated with an impressive 113 receiving yards in the first quarter. He finished with six catches for 134 yards, which is the second-best receiving game of his career. 

Njoku has had four touchdown catches over his past four games and is proving to be one of the league's top tight end receiving threats. According to Pro Football Focus, Njoku has recorded 373 receiving yards since Week 14, which ranks second among all players. This season, he has caught 21 catches for over 20 yards, which is second-best in the league. 

"We practiced on Tuesday of this week, and you're two days removed from Sunday playing against the Texans, and Dave was flying around like it was training camp," Stefanski said. "Now, he was dressed like it was training camp, too, because it was 57 degrees out, but he just looked fresh and was moving. So, I felt real good about Dave going into this game. Joe obviously understands Dave's skill sets and getting him the rock on the move is a good thing."

Check out photos of the Browns against the Jets in Week 17

RB Jerome Ford

Since Flacco started in Week 13, the run game production has decreased. The Browns haven't run for 100 yards or more since Week 12 against the Broncos. 

That all changed on Thursday as the Browns rushed for 127 yards and scored a rushing touchdown. It was the first time the Browns rushed for 100 yards and passed for 200 yards since their Week 10 matchup against the Ravens.

A big piece to the diversity in the offense against the Jets was Ford, who made big plays carrying the ball and catching passes. Ford finished the game with 12 carries for 64 yards and averaged 5.3 yards per carry. He also did damage in the passing game, catching two passes for 57 yards and scoring two touchdowns.

Ford demonstrated his willingness to do whatever it takes to secure a victory for his team. This marks the first time this season that he has accumulated over 50 yards both rushing and receiving in a single game.

"I felt like the lanes were out there," Ford said. "Our O-line was pushing their line forward. It was a lot of space, honestly. Running backs love to be in space. Being able to make moves and make dudes miss in the second level was great."

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