Good Afternoon
Good Afternoon

Brandon Marshall makes steal of the week

New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall (15)

New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall (15) stiff arms Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden (23) during the first half of a game on Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015 in East Rutherford, N.J. Credit: Lee S. Weissman

Brandon Marshall's jaw-dropping style doesn't change much when he steps on the football field.

In the season-opening 31-10 win over Cleveland on Sunday, the flamboyant and outspoken Jets receiver made a strong bid to be the team's most important newcomer with an outsized receiving performance.

Marshall had three huge plays: a touchdown reception over Joe Haden, a third-down reception that kept a touchdown drive alive, and a forced fumble and recovery that set up the Jets' first touchdown.

The forced fumble was exactly the sort of savvy veteran play that shows why Marshall has been to five Pro Bowls and is considered one of the most dangerous receivers in the league.

With the Browns up 7-0 in the second quarter, Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick hurled a ball downfield toward Marshall. It was intercepted by Tashaun Gipson.

"The guy made an awesome play, had his back to it and turned around at the last second," Marshall said. "When he caught it, the first thing I thought about was getting the ball back."

Marshall ripped the ball right out of the hands of Gipson, who seemed to be stunned by his sudden change of fortune. Both Jets coach Todd Bowles and Cleveland coach Mike Pettine called the fumble and recovery a game-changer.

"That was huge," Bowles said. "Brandon plays everything. He plays offense. He plays defense. He plays aggressive. To me, that was the play of the game."

Marshall's statistics for the game weren't overwhelming -- six catches for 62 yards -- but he proved he had the gift of coming up big when the team needed him most.

Marshall's presence and the fact that he kept Haden, the Browns' best defender, busy for most of the game opened up a lot of other options in the offense.

Eric Decker, the team's other starting receiver, caught two passes for 37 yards and one touchdown. Chris Owusu, who had been cut and then re-signed last week, had four catches for 55 yards.

"Brandon Marshall is a dynamic player and he's a guy that teams have to know where he's at," Decker said. "For him to make the plays he did today, it put us in good situations. Safeties are going to have to key on where he's at. It's going to open up one-on-ones for us. I think even open the running lanes more. It's always nice to have a guy of this caliber on the other side."

Fitzpatrick couldn't be happier to have a tall, athletic target.

On the Jets' third touchdown drive midway through the fourth quarter, the team had taken Marshall out because they were at the Browns' 1. Marshall, on the sideline, told Fitzpatrick he wanted to come back in and that he should throw him the ball.

"I said, OK, let's put Brandon in," Fitzpatrick said. "If we get him the right look, we'll get him the ball. It was just one-on-one out there. He had a huge size advantage and he went up and got it."

Marshall outjumped Haden and scored his first touchdown as a Jet. You can bet it won't be his last.

Fitzpatrick said it's hard not to have chemistry with a player like Marshall, adding: "He's just played a lot of football. I think we understand each other. He understands a lot about this game and my job and that's very helpful for me to have that."

New York Sports