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NY Jets trail Browns 34-17 at half despite Johnson’s pick-six

Jermaine Johnson, New York Jets, Cleveland Browns
Jermaine Johnson, New York Jets, Cleveland Browns, Getty Images

A late pick-six from Jermaine Johnson has at least kept things interesting for the New York Jets

Is Joe Flacco an elite quarterback? The New York Jets certainly can’t argue against the concept after the first half-hour of their dreary march to the end. Even an electric Jermaine Johnson pick-six couldn’t mar Flacco’s first half.

The saga of Flacco’s rebirth is in the midst of its latest chapter, one that’s penned three passing scores en route to building a 34-17 halftime lead over the Jets on Thursday night. Closing in on an AFC playoff berth, the Browns torched the Jets for 367 yards en route to their big lead. Jerome Ford caught two of Flacco’s six-point passes while the quarterback’s fellow former Jets Elijah Moore grabbed the other. Kareem Hunt also visited the end zone on the ground.

Gang Green got their points with a Breece Hall receiving score on their opening drive, while Johnson took a rare Flacco misfire back for six. Greg Zuerlein closed the half out with a 46-yard field goal.

Jets (17)

PASSING: Trevor Siemian (10-of-14, 124 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT)
RUSHING: Breece Hall (5 carries, 42 yards)
RECEIVING: Garrett Wilson (3 rec., 35 yards)

Browns (34)

PASSING: Joe Flacco (16-of-22, 296 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT)
RUSHING: Jerome Ford (10 carries, 59 yards)
RECEIVING: David Njoku (5 rec., 128 yards)

Call on Hall

A realistic, admirable goal for the Jets over these final hours (if any) would have been to convince observers that they can be the newest entrants on next year’s playoff bracket (similar to the Detroit Lions last season). While time has probably run out on that dream, Hall has spent this month reminding the football world of his dual-threat talents that make him indispensable in a football world where the running back’s purpose and value have been called into question. Hall has been the Jets’ undisputed top offensive weapon over Thursday’s first half-hour and they’ll likely keep giving him the as they try to fight their way back into this one.

Miss Moore More?

True to the Murphy’s Law nature of Jets football, Flacco just had to find Elijah Moore for a touchdown to make it a three-possession game. Headlines will obviously focus on Flacco (proving his eliteness and then some in his newfound role as Cleveland savior) but that’s a cheap joke: Tom Brady himself would have trouble succeeding behind the third-round-of-quarters-on-Space-Invaders nature of the offensive line.

A young receiver like Moore would certainly at least provide some hope and entertainment over the brutal march to the end (and perhaps provide an offensive blueprint), so maybe Jets fans’ nostalgia is misplaced. Time will tell if Moore returns for the second half, as he was injured on a lengthy first down grab on the Browns’ last offensive drive.

It’s Not You, It’s Me?

Even though Cleveland’s rolling to yet another crucial victory, the long-term prospects of Thursday’s game should be discussed: is Flacco’s takeover a sign of things to come in January and the start of an epic Super Bowl run? Or is it the byproduct of a doomed team succumbing to holiday and elimination malaise?

When looking at it from the Jets’ side, is it a case that perhaps everything isn’t so hunky-dory on defense (Johnson’s pick-six notwithstanding, Flacco and Co. have been allowed to move at east and at will), or is it just year’s worth of offensive letdowns catching up to them? The results could determine the path they take moving forward.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on X @GeoffJMags

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