CLEVELAND — This was about as bad as it gets.
In stunning fashion, the Browns lost their home opener 31-30 to the New York Jets. Cleveland led by 13 with less than two minutes to go, but the secondary gave up a wide-open touchdown pass to Corey Davis before the Jets recovered an onside kick, setting up Joe Flacco's eventual game-winning score to Garrett Wilson.
Flacco, in a throwback to his old Ravens days, carved up his former division rival with 307 yards and four TD passes. Wilson, a former Ohio State star, had 108 yards on eight catches in his return to the Buckeye State, including a pair of scores.
It was another late-game meltdown for the Browns' defense, which nearly coughed up last week's victory against the Panthers. "Miscommunication" was the word of the day, particularly on the strike to Davis that got New York back into the game. Denzel Ward got burned as Davis dashed down the sideline, with no safeties back to provide help.
JIMMY'S TAKE: Jim Donovan laments Browns' 'terrible' defense, special teams in 'inexcusable' loss to Jets
The Browns still had a chance after the go-ahead touchdown and drove to their own 46 with 13 seconds left, but Ashtyn Davis picked off Jacoby Brissett to end it. The interception put a damper on what was an otherwise fine performance for the Cleveland QB.
With the loss, the Browns are still in search of their first 2-0 start since 1993. They won't have much time to lick their wounds, as the Pittsburgh Steelers will storm into FirstEnergy Stadium Thursday night.
The "Ultimate Cleveland Sports Show" went live with reaction immediately after the final whistle.
3News' Tyler Carey also has some observations from today's action:
1. Disastrous defense
There's no way to sugar coat it: The defense blew this game for the Browns. No one was within 20 yards of Corey Davis when he brought the Jets to within six, and New York seemingly moved down the field at will after recovering the onside kick. Even before that, Joe Flacco had been having his was all afternoon with the secondary. He should not be throwing four touchdown passes in 2022, and maybe not even 2012.
2. Special teams woes
Besides the defensive breakdowns, the special teams also failed late, especially on the onside kick (it seems like the Browns give those up more than any team in the league). They also fell for a fake punt that led to a first down, and even Cade York proved he is human, missing an extra point that proved to be the difference.
3. QB play improves
From the first series, you could tell Jacoby Brissett looked a lot more comfortable under center. The veteran got everyone involved — from the receivers to the backs to the tight ends — completing 22 of 27 throws (84.6%) for 229 yards and a touchdown. He even fooled just about everyone in the stadium with an amazing pump fake spin move that let to a first-down run on what ended up being a 90-yard scoring drive to start things off.
Unfortunately, he also threw an interception on the final series. While he should not be blamed for this loss, it did prove to be the final blow when the Browns thought they still had a chance.
4. Amari arrives
The Browns' receiving core has been much-maligned all offseason, but Amari Cooper is finally starting to show flashes of his unquestioned talent. The wideout caught nine passes for 101 yards, including a 6-yard grab in the end zone.
5. Running game
An amazing effort by Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt was wasted. The pair combined for 187 scrimmage yards and the former had three touchdowns on the ground. One note, though: Had Hunt dived to the ground on a late first-down run instead of gone out of bounds with 2:02 to play, the Browns likely would've kneeled on the ball for a 24-17 win. Same for Chubb, who instead scored from 12 yards out with 1:55 to play.
This is not to blame these two, but when you lose close games, everything gets put under the microscope.