EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - For three quarters and 12 minutes Sunday, the Browns defense had played its best game of the year. They had a goal-line stand, two interceptions and hadn`t allowed a touchdown.
In the final three minutes, the Browns allowed a touchdown, two field goals and the Jets an opportunity to win the game.
"We are inconsistent defensively," coach Romeo Crennel said after the Browns hung on for a 24-18 win. "We make some plays and then we turn around and give up plays."
The Browns led 17-6 when the defense started to crack. Linebacker Leon Williams was called for pass interference on third-and-16 and the Jets capitalized with a hurry-up Kellen Clemens quarterback sneak from the
1-yard line that caught the Browns off guard.
"Plays happen," safety Sean Jones said. "Everybody was calm and we still had our heads on our shoulders."
Williams redeemed himself by knocking away the 2-point conversion pass. It was one of a handful of important plays the Browns came up with to make it an all-around good day for the defense.
In the second quarter of a scoreless game, the defensive line stopped two Thomas Jones runs from inside the 1 before safety Sean Jones intercepted a slant in the end zone.
"That was huge," said end Robaire Smith, who made one of the stops. "It took a lot out of them and put a lot of life into us."
"If you can hold a team to a field goal in the red zone, it`s good," Jones said. "If you have turnovers, it`s even better."
Rookie cornerback Brandon McDonald added his second interception in three games as the nickelback. He was in single coverage on receiver Wallace Wright and made a twisting catch along the sideline in the fourth quarter.
"I looked up and there it was," he said. "I went up and got it."
McDonald added two pass breakups and a good open-field tackle. The defense finished with four sacks and seven quarterback hits.
"We have to try to be more consistent defensively," Crennel said. "If we can do that, we will be a well-rounded team."
MOVE OVER, GARY
Braylon Edwards has had a season to remember - and he still has three games left.
His 4-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter gave him 13 for the season, which tied Gary Collins for most in franchise history. Collins set the mark in 1963.
Edwards also has career highs in catches (65) and yards (1,106).
"It feels good," Edwards said of tying the record. "You look at the guys that have played here and to tie the all-time record for touchdowns in a season means a lot."
Edwards said he was aware of the record.
"You guys (media) did a good job of telling me that," he joked. "I`m a football buff."
Edwards (6-foot-3) went over rookie Darrelle Revis (5-11) for the touchdown, picking the ball off the top of Revis` helmet.
"We like to put the taller guys against the smaller defenders," Edwards said. "(Derek Anderson) threw it fast and I saw it first. We can react before (the cornerbacks) do."
Edwards made perhaps the biggest catch of the game in the second quarter. He ran a fade for 14 yards against Revis on fourth-and-4. The Jets challenged whether Edwards got his second foot inbounds, but the call stood. The Browns went on to score on the drive for a 7-0 lead.
Was it the right call?
"Whatever the referee said," Edwards said.
Joshua Cribbs needs Pro Bowl voters to look at his entire resume and not just Sunday`s game. In the battle of the NFL`s top two kickoff returners, New York`s Leon Washington won by decision.
Cribbs had just two kickoff returns (51 yards) and two punt returns (7), while Washington had four (45) and two (53). The numbers are similar, but Washington got the edge with a 33-yard punt return that gave the Jets great field position. Cribbs missed the tackle early when he overran the play.
"Leon is a good, quick runner," Cribbs said. "He`s small and fast. I didn`t realize he was that small. I didn`t realize he had that many moves."
With Pro Bowl votes due this week, Cribbs wasn`t sure if the game cost him a trip to Honolulu.
"It`s hard to tell," he said.
Cribbs was disappointed the Jets didn`t give him many opportunities by kicking away.
"What am I supposed to do?" he said. "Do (voters) take that into account? I get what I can get."
Outside linebacker Antwan Peek left the game in the second quarter with an ankle injury and didn`t return. He`s battled a knee injury all year but hasn`t missed a game.
"It`s a high ankle sprain," Peek said. "You just have to see how it goes."
High ankle sprains can be bad and could keep him out for up to a month. Chaun Thompson saw increased playing time on third down in Peek`s absence.
Nose tackle Ethan Kelley was back in the starting lineup after missing two games with a knee injury. Rookie cornerback Eric Wright was active after missing two games with a knee injury, but he didn`t play.
* Jets starting receivers Laveranues Coles (ankle) and Jerricho Cotchery (finger) spent the week on the injury report but were active. Cotchery was reportedly fitted with a new cast that enabled him to play.
He caught back-to-back passes on the first drive for 34 yards. Coles made seven catches and left the field hobbling several times.
Third-string running back Jerome Harrison entered the game in the fourth quarter and rushed for 17 yards and 4 yards on consecutive plays.
* Linebacker/special teamer David McMillan (knee) was inactive. The healthy scratches were cornerbacks Kenny Wright and Richard Colclough, offensive linemen Isaac Sowells and Greg Eslinger, nose tackle Louis Leonard and receiver Travis Wilson. Ken Dorsey was the third quarterback.
* Linebacker/special teamer Colby Bockwoldt made his Browns debut after being signed Wednesday to fill the roster spot of special teamer Kris Griffin, who was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury.
* The Meadowlands was about 65 percent filled much of the game. The attendance was announced as a sellout of 76,822.
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7135 or email@example.com.