Fitzpatrick, Ivory lead Jets to 31-10 win over Browns
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Todd Bowles got a big win and a celebratory game ball in his New York Jets debut.
Ryan Fitzpatrick threw two touchdown passes and Chris Ivory ran for two scores, giving the Jets a 31-10 victory over the Cleveland Browns to open the season Sunday.
“It feels good to get the butterflies out of the way, to get that first one,” Bowles said. “It wasn’t perfect, by no means, but we did what we had to do to win.”
The Jets (1-0) had five takeaways against the Browns, including an interception and two forced fumbles of Johnny Manziel, who came in late in the first quarter for an injured Josh McCown.
“First and foremost,” Manziel said, “you can’t turn the ball over.”
D’Brickashaw Ferguson presented Bowles with the game ball in the locker room as the team got off to a winning start under their new coach. Bowles was hired in January after Rex Ryan was fired following six seasons.
The victory was a bit dampened by injuries, with a scary moment occurring in the fourth quarter when rookie linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin was taken to a hospital after being carted off the field. A few hours later, the Jets announced Mauldin has a concussion — but no neck injury, as initially feared — and was hospitalized overnight for observation. The team added that Mauldin was awake and had feeling in all of his extremities.
New York also lost cornerback Antonio Cromartie in the second quarter with an injured left knee. He’s scheduled to have an MRI exam Monday.
Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker had touchdown catches for the Jets, who sent the Browns (0-1) to their 11th straight opening-day loss. Cleveland committed 12 penalties for 109 yards to go along with the five turnovers.
“To lose the way we did,” Browns coach Mike Pettine said, “it’s difficult to swallow it.”
Fitzpatrick, who became the starter after Geno Smith had his jaw broken by a punch from a teammate last month, finished 15 of 24 for 179 yards and also threw an interception that ended up being the turning point — for the Jets.
Shortly after Cleveland took a 7-0 lead, Fitzpatrick’s throw to Marshall was picked off by Tashaun Gipson. But the Jets wide receiver ripped the ball out of Gipson’s hands for a fumble recovery that gave New York the ball at the Cleveland 9. Moments later, Ivory ran up the middle for a 10-yard tying TD.
“That, to me, was the play of the game,” Bowles said.
Manziel was 13 of 24 for 182 yards, including a 54-yard touchdown to Travis Benjamin. He also led the Browns with 35 yards rushing on five carries.
“Obviously, the second half leaves a bitter taste in your mouth,” Manziel said. “We’ll see what happens this next week.”
After struggling to find a rhythm early, Fitzpatrick and the Jets’ offense clicked on a nine-play, 72-yard drive that was capped by Decker’s 15-yard touchdown catch with 26 seconds left before the half and gave New York a 14-10 lead.
Marcus Williams intercepted a pass by Manziel intended for Brian Hartline in the third quarter and the Jets made the Browns pay. With a short field to work with, starting on the Browns 28, Fitzpatrick connected with Marshall for 17 yards on third-and-2 and then threw a fade to Marshall for a 1-yard TD on third down to give New York a 21-10 lead with 7:51 left in the third quarter.
Ivory sealed the game with a 3-yard run just over 10 minutes left.
The Browns appeared ready to score on their opening drive, but two big hits on one play kept Cleveland out of the end zone — and knocked McCown out of the game.
On third-and-goal from the Jets 14, McCown took off up the middle and dived for the goal line. As he left his feet, McCown was hit by Calvin Pryor and Demario Davis, knocking the ball out of the quarterback’s hands and out of the end zone for a touchback.
McCown suffered a concussion, allowing Manziel to get in — amid some hearty boos from Jets fans.
On his fifth play, Manziel lofted a perfectly placed pass down the left sideline that landed right in the hands of Benjamin, who outran Cromartie to give the Browns a 7-0 lead.
NOTES: Browns LB Scott Solomon was carted off in the first quarter with an ankle injury. Pettine had no immediate word on the severity. ... Ivory finished with 91 yards on 20 carries. ... Cleveland is 1-16 in Week 1 games since its expansion return in 1999. ... McCown was 5 of 8 for 49 yards before leaving.
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