May 27, 2024
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Lights go out on Cleveland Browns’ win over Jets in NFL preseason opener | NFL

Zach Wilson showed he can move New York’s offense as a backup quarterback, but the Jets kicked off the Aaron Rodgers Era with a 21-16 loss to the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night in the Hall of Fame game.

It was a battle of rookies and reserves as both teams rested their starters in the NFL’s inaugural game of 2023.

There was a notable opening-night glitch as a power outage in Tom Benson Stadium caused about a 20-minute delay between the third and fourth quarters.

Browns rookie quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson rallied the Browns with a pair of second-half touchdowns. Thompson-Robinson, a fifth-round pick, threw a 22-yard TD pass to Austin Watkins Jr with 9:33 left to put Cleveland ahead.

Wilson, whose struggles as a starter the past two seasons sent the Jets on a QB quest that eventually got them Rodgers via trade from Green Bay in April, had some positive moments during his three series.

On his 24th birthday, the No 2 overall pick in the 2021 draft was 3 of 5 passing for 65 yards. Wilson set up the game’s first score with a 57-yard completion to wide receiver Malik Taylor.

Cleveland Browns defensive tackle Siaki Ika (62) and defensive tackle Tommy Togiai (93) wait during a power outage in the second half of Thursday’s game.
Cleveland Browns defensive tackle Siaki Ika (62) and defensive tackle Tommy Togiai (93) wait during a power outage in the second half of Thursday’s game. Photograph: Ken Blaze/USA Today Sports

Jets coach Robert Saleh was pleased with Wilson’s performance.

“I thought he did a really nice job running the offense,” Saleh said at halftime. “He had a really nice go-ball on the left side. Thought he did a really nice job for us, first time out.”

Greg Zuerlein kicked field goals of 54, 44 and 53 yards and Israel Abanikanda had a 10-yard touchdown run for the Jets.

Demetric Felton Jr had a 10-yard TD run for Cleveland, his scamper sprung by Thompson-Robinson’s seal block on the edge.

Rodgers was a high-profile spectator.

The four-time MVP watched from the sideline wearing black Jets gear and a headset, giving him more the look of an assistant coach than star quarterback. On Wednesday, Rodgers toured the Hall of Fame and got an up-close view of a place where he’ll one day be enshrined.

Before that, he’s supposed to return New York’s franchise to glory.

The 39-year-old is not expected to play this preseason – he hasn’t since 2018 – and said earlier this week that upcoming joint practices against Tampa Bay and Carolina will help him prepare for the 11 September season opener against Buffalo.

The Browns sat quarterback Deshaun Watson, who like Rodgers, is expected to do big things in his second year with Cleveland.

Watson went 3-3 after returning from his 11-game suspension in 2022 for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy after he was accused by two dozen women of sexual harassment and assault during massage therapy sessions while he played for Houston.

Kellen Mond started for the Browns and played the first half, going 7 of 12 for 49 yards with a TD pass and an interception. Thompson-Robinson finished 8 of 11 for 82 yards.

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