CLEVELAND — The Browns came out on the wrong end of what was a tale of two halves against the Jets.
In search of its first win of the season, Cleveland fell to New York, 31-28, after holding a double digit lead on a blustery and rainy Sunday afternoon at FirstEnergy Stadium.
The Browns built a 20-7 lead at halftime with a stingy defense and a well-balanced offensive attack that welcomed veteran quarterback Josh McCown back into the starting lineup.
Cleveland, however, was unable to sustain such momentum, surrendering 24 unanswered points to a New York team that chipped away at the deficit with big plays and takeaways.
Jets running backs Matt Forte and Bilal Powell combined for three touchdowns and 158 yards in the second half while New York's defense held the Browns to 131 yards of offense in final two periods.
McCown, who missed the past five weeks after suffering a shoulder/collarbone injury against Baltimore in Week 2, passed for 341, two touchdowns and two interceptions on 25-of-49 throws in his second start this season.
If there was any rust, McCown — who received the nod with rookie quarterback Cody Kessler still in the league's concussion protocol — shook it off quickly.
The Browns scored on their opening series when he zipped a 5-yard pass to wide receiver Andrew Hawkins, capping off an eight-play, 71-yard drive in which they moved the ball with relative ease against a Jets defense that — as running backs coach and run game coordinator Kirby Wilson
joked on Friday — "appears as if they're playing with 15" players.
On this afternoon, however, it was Cleveland's defense that locked down Forte, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, and All-Pro receiver Brandon Marshall to 106 yards in the first half.
The Browns took their biggest lead of the day when kicker Cody Parkey connected on a 27-yard field goal on the final play before halftime.
Thing took a turn after that. On its first series after intermission, New York marched down the field before receiver Quincy Enunwa broke four tackles and dove into the end zone on a 28-yard touchdown pass from Fitzpatrick.
The moment was something of a turning point for the Jets, who continued to turn the tables on their next possession with an eight-play, 84-yard drive that watched Forte and Powell find space to run against Cleveland's defense.
After being limited with a hamstring injury last week, Terrelle Pryor caught six passes for 101 yards in an effort that saw much of that production come against All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis.
Cleveland, which aimed to revive its powerful run game this weekend, struggled to get much going against the Jets, who held Crowell and Duke Johnson Jr. to 68 yards on 18 carries.
The Browns host the Dallas Cowboys next weekend.
The Browns play the New York Jets in Week 8.