Robert Saleh has receipts. And he has a desperately-needed win.
The Jets stunned the Browns, 31-30, on Sunday, scoring 14 points in the final 1:22 to shock the Cleveland crowd and back up their embattled head coach.
Quarterback Joe Flacco connected with rookie wideout Garrett Wilson for a 15-yard touchdown with 22 seconds left to tie the game. Kicker Greg Zuerlein then booted the PAT to put the Jets ahead. An Ashtyn Davis interception moments later sealed the improbable come-from-behind victory.
How it happened. The Browns appeared to have put the game away when they took a 30-17 lead with 1:55 to go on a 12-yard touchdown run by running back Nick Chubb. The Jets had no timeouts remaining and had mustered just eight yards in the final period at that point. But Cleveland’s Cade York missed the extra point.
Flacco then hit Corey Davis for a 66-yard touchdown to make it 30-24 with 1:22 to go. They then recovered the onside kick — punter Braden Mann expertly placed a bouncer down the left sideline that was corralled by Justin Hardee. The Jets then embarked on a nine-play, 53-yard drive to win the game. The Browns then drove to their own 46 and looked like they would have a chance to set up a game-winning field goal or Hail Mary attempt. But quarterback Jacoby Brissett airmailed a pass intended for wideout Amari Cooper, Davis hauled down the pick and the Jets were able to take a knee.
Saleh needed this. Boy did he ever. This win might have saved Saleh’s Jets tenure. Seriously. If the Jets lose this game, they would have been 0-2 for the fourth straight year. And with the Bengals coming to town next, the season could have been over for all intents and purposes before quarterback Zach Wilson returned from injury. Couple that with the firestorm Saleh started with his mouth earlier in the week and it was not hard to see how everything could spiral out of hand. There is still plenty of work to be done. But Saleh has stabilized his team for the moment.
Wilson stars. The first-round pick had a bigger role, as was expected. And he delivered. Wilson had eight catches for 102 yards and two scores. The only blemish was a third-down drop in the fourth quarter when the Jets were trailing by a touchdown.