Jets officially out of Trevor Lawrence race after win over Browns | Observations from another upset – NJ.com

The Jets’ hopes of landing Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence essentially came to an end last week. Sunday just made it official.

A Jets season that forever seemed destined to end without a victory now has a winning streak, as they won their second straight game with a 23-16 triumph over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford.

The Jets’ win, coupled with the Jacksonville Jaguars’ 41-17 loss to the Chicago Bears on Sunday, officially locked the Jags into the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, where they’ll likely take Lawrence.

With one game left, the Jets (2-13) are one game behind the Jaguars (1-14), and if they finished with the same record, the Jags would hold the tiebreaker for the top spot in the draft.

Had the Jets lost on Sunday, their odds of jumping Jacksonville with one game left would have been slim, but now that possibility can’t happen in Week 17. They’re officially locked into the No. 2 overall pick.

The Browns entered the game significantly shorthanded, playing without multiple regular wide receivers and linebackers due to a one positive COVID-19 test and contact tracing.

Cleveland was also missing a pair of offensive linemen due to injuries, and the Jets certainly took advantage. The Browns’ dynamic rushing attack, led by Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, was held to just 45 total rushing yards.

After dominating the Los Angeles Rams for the majority of their Week 15 victory, the Jets’ defense did so again against the Browns. Quarterback Baker Mayfield finished 28-for-53 with 285 yards.

Offensively, the Jets didn’t have many issues. Quarterback Sam Darnold didn’t turn the ball over, and he went 16-for-32 for 175 yards and two touchdowns.

Darnold’s first touchdown came on a 11-yard strike to tight end Chris Herndon with 13:33 left in the second quarter. A blocked Sam Ficken extra point left the Jets up 13-3.

The Jets quarterback added a second TD pass when he connected with wide receiver Jamison Crowder for a 30-yard touchdown with 10:26 left in the third quarter.

Before Darnold started throwing TD passes, the Jets used some trickery to get on the board. A double reverse gave the ball to Crowder, and he launched a pass down the right sideline, hitting wide receiver Braxton Berrios in stride for a 43-yard touchdown that gave the Jets a 7-3 lead with 34 seconds left in the first quarter.

Forced turnovers crucial for Jets

While the Jets didn’t turn the ball over on offense, forced turnovers on defense proved to be a big different.

The Jets strip-sacked Mayfield twice, recovering both fumbles. In the second quarter, Frankie Luvu punched the ball out from behind, and it landed in the arms of Folorunso Fatukasi. Darnold hit Herndon for his touchdown on the ensuing drive.

With the Jets leading 20-16 late in the fourth quarter, Mayfield fumbled again, leading to a recovery for John Franklin-Myers. Ficken hit a 34-yard field goal with 2:52 to play to push the Jets’ lead to 23-16.

The Browns got one final drive to try to tie the game with a touchdown, but Mayfield fumbled on a fourth-down sneak, allowing the Jets to get the ball back on downs and run out the clock.

Frank Gore makes history

Jets running back Frank Gore became the third player in NFL history to record 16,000 rushing yards for his career. Gore hit the mark about midway through the fourth quarter after entered the game 48 yards shy of the milestone.

Gore, who entered 2020 as a third-leading rusher in NFL history, joined Emmitt Smith and Walter Payton as the only players with more than 16,000 career rushing yards.

Small roles for Perine, Johnson

While Gore was busy hitting the milestone, Jets head coach Adam Gase didn’t leave much work for the Jets’ two younger running backs, La’Mical Perine and Ty Johnson.

Perine, appearing in his first game since being activated off IR with an ankle sprain, finished with 30 yards on nine carries. He added one catch for 14 yards.

Johnson had 13 yards on two carries, and he did not have a target in the passing game.

Quiet day for Mims

For the first time in his NFL career, rookie Denzel Mims finished without a catch. The 2020 second-round pick didn’t haul in either of his targets.

Mims was also seen talking to members of the Jets’ medical staff on the bench during the second half, but he didn’t miss any snaps.

What are the Jets playing for in Week 17?

Nothing, at least in regards to the standings.

With the Jets’ win and the Jaguars’ loss, the Jets can’t move up to the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. They also can’t fall to No. 3 after the Cincinnati Bengals ensured a better record than the Jets with a victory last week.

So the Jets will be selecting No. 2 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft, regardless of the outcome of their final game against the New England Patriots.

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Chris Ryan may be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisRyan_NJ. Tell us your coronavirus story or send a tip here.

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