The last time the Jets and Browns played a game that needed more than 60 minutes, it was a wild double-overtime playoff affair that turned on a Mark Gastineau roughing-the-passer penalty and eliminated the Jets from the playoffs in 1987.
Sunday's game wasn't win or go home, but it was even wilder. It featured an injured Mark Sanchez making play after play, three missed Jets field goals, a botched onside kick, Colt McCoy leading a game-tying drive in the last few minutes and a fumble by Chansi Stuckey that will have Browns diehards convinced he's still working for the Jets.
And all of that was just a prelude to Santonio Holmes catching a simple slant, breaking a tackle and going to the house for a 37-yard touchdown pass with 24 seconds to play. Just your typical 26-20 victory for the Jets.
Anyone taking a cursory look at the stats from Sunday's game would have a hard time believing the thing got to overtime in the first place. The Jets outgained the Browns, they never turned the ball over and held the ball for all but eight of the final 35 minutes of regulation. They could only cap off one of their long drives in that time with a touchdown, however, and Nick Folk put a 24-yard field goal into an upright at the end of a 19-play, 10-minute drive at the start of the second half.
Even with all of that, the Jets should have put the game away but they weren't able to shut the door on McCoy in the last two minutes. The rookie led the Browns all the way down the field, reminiscent of the way the Browns moved the ball in the first half, and eventually hit Mohamed Massaquoi for a game-tying touchdown pass.
The Jets defense's sturdiness has been even more overhyped that the Titanic's ability to withstand icebergs this season, something that nearly sank Rex Ryan on Sunday. The Browns moved the ball far too easily in the first half and didn't have any trouble at the end of the game. If not for Sanchez keeping drives alive with his arm and his feet, including a rushing touchdown, the team would almost surely have lost in Cleveland.
Sanchez did lead them, though. It wasn't always gorgeous, but it was effective and that makes two weeks in a row where the much-maligned quarterback has led his team when they needed it the most. He did hurt his calf in the third quarter, but his mobility wasn't affected enough to stop him from eluding the pass rush to make a clutch third-down completion to keep an overtime drive alive deep in their own territory. You could make an awfully strong argument for this being the best performance of his career and the Jets needed just that.
All of the nitpicking, and there' s plenty to be had in this performance, seems a bit moot in the face of the way the game ended. For the second straight week, the Jets found a way to win a game when they needed to pull a rabbit out of a hat. At some point that ability to come up big becomes more notable than the ways you put yourself into desperate situations. For the Jets, that point came late in an Ohio overtime.