Joe Flacco, Jerome Ford lead Browns past Jets, into playoffs

Cleveland Browns running back Jerome Ford scored two touchdowns in a win over the New York Jets on Thursday in Cleveland. File Photo by Joe Marino/UPI
1 of 5 | Cleveland Browns running back Jerome Ford scored two touchdowns in a win over the New York Jets on Thursday in Cleveland. File Photo by Joe Marino/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 29 (UPI) -- Joe Flacco threw for 309 yards and three scores, sparking a win over the New York Jets and clinching a playoff berth for the Cleveland Browns.

The veteran quarterback completed 19 of 29 passes in the 37-20 victory on Thursday in Cleveland. Flacco, who signed with the Browns in November, has thrown for at least 250 yards and two scores in each of his five starts with the team. He eclipsed 300 yards in each of his last four games.


"It was a pretty special night for this organization and a pretty special night for the fans out there," Browns coach Kevin Stefanski told reporters.

"They were ready to roll from the jump. ... It's a big deal when you can clinch and earn that second season."


The Browns out-gained the Jets 428 to 360 in total yardage. Tight end David Njoku caught six passes for a game-high 134 yards. Running back Jerome Ford totaled 121 yards from scrimmage and two scores on 14 touches.

The Browns went on a 7-play, 75-yard drive to start the game. Flacco threw a 7-yard touchdown toss to Ford to end that possession.

Quarterback Trevor Siemian threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to running back Breece Hall about three minutes later, tying the game for the Jets.

The Browns responded with another 7-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. Running back Kareem Hunt scored on a 7-yard run to end that possession.

The Browns added to their lead less than three minutes later when safety Ronnie Hickman intercepted Siemian and scored on a 30-yard return.

Flacco led another 10-play, 79-yard touchdown drive midway through the second quarter. He threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Elijah Moore to end the drive, helping the Browns take a 27-7 edge.

Jets linebacker Jermaine Johnson intercepted Flacco about four minutes later. He scored on a 37-yard return to tighten the score.

But Flacco threw a 50-yard touchdown pass to Ford less than a minute later, giving momentum back to the Browns.

Jets kicker Greg Zuerlein made a 46-yard field goal as time expired in the second quarter. The Browns led 34-17 at halftime.

Neither team scored in the third quarter. Zuerlein then made a 44-yard field goal with 8:50 remaining to stop the drought. Browns kicker Riley Patterson made a 33-yard kick about six minutes later for the final points of the night.

Browns defensive ends Myles Garrett and Alex Wright each registered a sack in the victory. Siemian completed 32 of 45 passes for 261 yards, one score and an interception. Hall totaled 126 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown on 22 touches for the Jets.

The Browns (11-5) will face the Cincinnati Bengals (8-7) in their regular-season finale Jan. 7 in Cincinnati. The Jets (6-10) will face the New England Patriots (4-11) on Jan. 7 in Foxborough, Mass.


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Joe Burrow, $55 million
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow looks to pass against the Cleveland Browns in Cleveland on September 10, 2023. Burrow, who makes $55 million a year, signed a 5-year, $275 million contract extension last off-season. He sustained a season-ending wrist injury November 13, 2023, in a loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Photo by Aaron Josefczyk/UPI | License Photo

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