CLEVELAND (AP)—Curtis Martin’s injured knee wouldn’t let him play. His heart wouldn’t let him quit.
Knowing he was too hurt to be effective, Martin still wanted to be in the huddle as the Jets attempted to rally in the fourth quarter. So he went to New York coach Herman Edwards and asked a favor.
“I said, ‘Just let me go in there, let me look the offensive linemen in the eye and see if we can’t get this thing going,”’ Martin said.
One week after mismanaging the game clock, the Jets beat it as Quincy Carter threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Justin McCareins with 5:32 remaining to give New York an ugly 10-7 win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
Last week, the Jets (7-3) bungled to an overtime loss against Baltimore because they failed to manage time wisely and because of some questionable play calling. New York cleaned up those issues, but there wasn’t much else it did well offensively until Carter rallied the Jets from a 7-3 deficit with a 75-yard TD drive.
Sacked six times and under pressure all afternoon, Carter completed a crucial third-and-11 pass to McCareins, who stretched out to pick up the first down at Cleveland’s 24. After a 13-yard pass to Santana Moss, Carter again hit McCareins, who stepped out of cornerback Michael Lehan’s tackle and scored.
“We made the right plays at the right time,” Moss said. “It doesn’t matter how pretty it was as long as we did what we came here to do.”
New York’s LaMont Jordan, filling in for a banged-up Martin, rushed for 61 yards in the fourth quarter. Jordan, whose ill-timed and poorly executed halfback option pass a week ago underscored the Jets’ woes, ground out 34 yards as the Jets ran out the final 3:55 to hand the Browns (3-7) their fourth straight loss.
Jets safety Erik Coleman had a key sack to end Cleveland’s final drive.
The Browns also were hurt by usually reliable kicker Phil Dawson, who was wide right on two field goals—his first misses after making 27 straight.
“It’s hard to swallow,” Dawson said. “I proved today that I’m not perfect — unfortunately. I didn’t do my job.”
Martin rushed for 88 yards on 17 carries. In the first quarter, he went over 1,000 this season, joining Hall of Famer Barry Sanders as the only players in NFL history to begin their careers with 10 straight 1,000-yard seasons.
Martin bruised his right knee in the second quarter and carried just twice in the fourth as the Jets rode the powerful Jordan, who spent the past week hoping for a chance at redemption after his option pass was intercepted.
As the Jets’ offense continued to misfire in the second half, Martin wanted back in and Edwards finally let him. He picked up 13 yards on the first two snaps of New York’s game-winning drive before the Jets put the ball in Jordan’s hands.
Martin’s return to the field may have been brief, but it inspired the Jets.
“I never count Curtis out,” Jordan said. “I’ve been around him for four years and I’ve seen him play through some incredible injuries. You can’t count Curtis Martin out unless he says he’s out. Doctors can’t even tell him no.”
Meanwhile, the Browns were booed off the field by their fans after dropping their fifth in six games.
Garcia said he only would have played in an emergency.
“I was not 100 percent,” said Garcia, who will have an MRI on Monday. “I couldn’t squeeze the football. I just wanted to be out there to support my teammates.”
Dawson’s miss with 11:27 left gave the ball to the Jets at their 25. Jordan powered up the middle on four straight runs as New York moved into Cleveland territory. Carter, who finished 11-of-20 for 116 yards, then had three straight completions to cap a scoring drive that kept New York in the thick of the AFC playoff race.
“On that last drive, we kept saying, ‘It’s now or never,”’ Carter said. “The defense kept us in the game and it was up to us to win it.”
Browns RT Ryan Tucker sprained his right knee in the third quarter and didn’t return. He will have an MRI on Monday. … Martin (12,741 yards) moved past Tony Dorsett (12,739) into sixth place on the career rushing list. … The Jets were 2-for-14 on third down, the Browns 2-of-13. … Browns KR Richard Alston returned a kickoff 52 yards, the third consecutive week he’s had one longer than 50. … Cleveland started five drives at its own 40 or better and didn’t get a point, punting four times and missing a field goal.