CLEVELAND -- In a city where the championship spirit is running wild, two football teams far from the title chase showed exactly why they are languishing in the basement of their divisions.
The New York Jets couldn't have played much worse in the first half, falling behind by 13 points, but they rallied for 24 unanswered second-half points to defeat the winless Browns 31-28 Sunday at First Energy Stadium.
Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick recovered from a miserable first half to orchestrate three lengthy second-half touchdown drives for the Jets (3-5).
"It was basically we needed some guys to step up and make plays," Fitzpatrick said. "It was a businesslike approach in the second half. It was not fueled by emotion."
The positive vibes created in Cleveland by the Cavaliers and Indians have failed to trickle down to the Browns, who are 0-8 and haven't won since Dec. 13. The Jets game was considered one of the few possible soft spots on the remaining schedule.
The Browns exhibited signs of life in racing to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter and leading 20-7 at halftime.
The Jets put together second-half drives of 78, 84 and 81 yards to take a 28-20 lead with 6:27 remaining in the fourth quarter. Nick Folk tacked on a 24-yard field goal after Browns quarterback Josh McCown was intercepted for the second time, all but sealing the win.
The Browns managed a late score on a 1-yard pass from McCown to Andrew Hawkins but were unable to pounce on the ensuing onside kick.
Fitzpatrick struggled in the first half, completing just 3 of 14 passes for 30 yards. It was a totally different story in the second half as he picked apart the Browns secondary. Fitzpatrick finished 16 of 34 for 228 yards and one touchdown with no interceptions.
Jets coach Todd Bowles said of his players' first-half performance, "We needed an attitude check. We didn't come out with an attitude in the first half, which we preached all week. We came out in the second half with a bunch of attitude and played a different type of game. There was no big speech to be made. You have to come out and have an attitude when you're losing."
Browns coach Hue Jackson didn't remove his headset in disgust before the game ended, as he did a week prior in Cincinnati, but he obviously is upset with the way the season is playing out.
"It's no magic," Jackson said of the inability to finish close out wins. "Our players, our staff, coaches and team, we have to do it. We have to finish it. We have to get the monkey off our back. It's just that simple."
The game marked the return of McCown following a five-game absence while he recuperated from a shoulder injury. He showed no signs of rust early in directing an eight-play, 75-yard drive that resulted in a 5-yard touchdown pass to Hawkins. Kicker Cody Parkey followed with a 41-yard field goal later in the opening period to give the Browns a 10-0 lead.
The second-half collapse can be attributed to failures by McCown, who was intercepted twice in the half, and the inability of the defense to get off the field. McCown, who completed 25 of 49 passes for 341 yards, was irked most by an overthrow to a wide-open Terrelle Pryor on a deep pass that would have been a touchdown.
"I look at myself and I played two different halves," McCown said. "One half we played the way we prepared, and the second half we didn't. I say we, but I didn't. It starts with me. I take this one squarely on me because I don't feel like I played to the level I'm capable of and that I played to in the first half, and I feel it cost us the game."
The Jets' lone touchdown in the first half came on a 35-yard run by Bilal Powell on a third-and-10. The Browns responded with a 1-yard Isaiah Crowell scoring run and a 27-yard field goal by Parkey on the final play of the half.
New York scored consecutive touchdowns in the second half on a 24-yard pass from Fitzpatrick to Quincy Enunwa and runs of 4 and 2 yards by Matt Forte.
Forte finished with 82 yards on 25 carries, while Enunwa caught four passes for 93 yards.
Pryor had six receptions for 101 yards, and Duke Johnson Jr. added six catches for 87 yards for Cleveland.
NOTES: Browns WR Corey Coleman, a rookie first-round draft pick, missed a sixth consecutive game due to a hand injury. ... Cleveland CB Joe Haden, who was nursing a groin injury, was active. ... Browns back Briean Boddy-Calhoun sustained a head injury in the first quarter and didn't return. ... Jets C Nick Mangold was inactive because of a knee injury. ... Jets CB Buster Skrine, a former Brown, was out with an ankle injury. ... New York lost TE Kellen Davis with an elbow injury. He didn't return.