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Ryan Fitzpatrick turns it around in Jets’ second half

New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick hands off

New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick hands off the ball to running back Matt Forte (22) in the second half of an NFL game against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016, in Cleveland. Photo Credit: AP / David Richard

CLEVELAND — Ryan Fitzpatrick survived to play another week — albeit barely — in a 31-28 comeback win over the Browns on Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium. After a horrendous statistical start, in which Fitzpatrick went 3-for-14 for 30 yards in the first half, the 33-year-old quarterback helped the Jets score 24 unanswered points in the second half and move to 3-5.

“We just played some bad football,” Fitzpatrick said of the first half. “Nothing really went the way we wanted it to offensively. At halftime, it was kind of the way the first part of the season went. We just had to stay with it, kind of pick ourselves up and stay with the game plan and really just go out there and make plays.”

It was an eventful week for Fitzpatrick, who was benched for the previous Sunday’s game against the Ravens but wound up replacing Geno Smith, who suffered what turned out to be a season-ending knee injury in the second quarter. After rallying the Jets to a 24-16 win over the Ravens, Fitzpatrick said he had lost the confidence of all the key decision-makers in the Jets’ organization.

“When the owner stops believing in you and the GM stops believing in you and the coaches stop believing in you, sometimes all you have is yourself,” said Fitzpatrick, who added on Wednesday that he didn’t regret his choice of words.

After Fitzpatrick’s inadequate performance in the first half, it seemed Todd Bowles might pull him again in favor of second-year quarterback Bryce Petty. But the coach stuck with Fitzpatrick, who was mostly terrific in the second half, going 13-for-20 for 198 yards and one touchdown pass, a 24-yarder to Quincy Enunwa midway through the third quarter. Fitzpatrick also had a 57-yard strike to Enunwa in the third quarter.

“Today is a great example of this football team having an attitude in the second half and coming out and doing what we did and feeding off the defense and the defense feeding off the offense,” Fitzpatrick said. “That’s the kind of team we want to be. What we did in the second half, it was progress for this football team.”

Fitzpatrick was hit hard on the Jets’ first series while attempting to run for a first down at the Jets’ 35. He collided with cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun, and Fitzpatrick’s helmet flew off, along with his chinstrap. He was uninjured on the play, but because of the NFL’s recently enacted concussion protocol, he had to be examined by an independent neurologist on the sideline. Fitzpatrick was cleared to return.

“It probably looked worse than it was,” Fitzpatrick said. “My helmet came off, my face went into the dirt. Got up, tried to collect my things — a chinstrap somewhere, a helmet, jaw pad.”

Fitzpatrick wanted to go back in the game immediately, but he understood why he was removed.

“As players, we understand [the protocol] is there for our protection,” he said. “I didn’t want to come out, but they felt like I needed to be evaluated. They’re doing what’s best for us. Sometimes competitiveness gets in the way.”


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