EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Slow start, strong finish and a big victory for the New York Jets in coach Todd Bowles’ debut.
Ryan Fitzpatrick threw two touchdown passes and Chris Ivory ran for two scores, giving the Jets a 31-10 win over the Cleveland Browns.
The Jets (1-0) had five takeaways against the Browns, including an interception and two forced fumbles of Johnny Manziel, who came in late in the first quarter for an injured Josh McCown.
There was a scary moment in the fourth quarter for the Jets when rookie linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin was taken to a hospital after being carted off the field with head and neck injuries. New York also lost cornerback Antonio Cromartie in the second quarter with an injured left knee.
Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker had touchdown catches for the Jets, who sent the Browns (0-1) to their 11th straight opening-day loss. Bowles was hired by the Jets in January, replacing Rex Ryan, who was fired after six seasons.
Fitzpatrick, who became the starter after Geno Smith had his jaw broken by a punch from a teammate last month, finished 15 of 24 for 179 yards and also threw an interception.
Manziel was 13 of 24 for 182 yards, including a 54-yard touchdown to Travis Benjamin. He also led the Browns with 35 yards rushing on five carries.
After struggling to find a rhythm early, Fitzpatrick and the Jets’ offense clicked on a nine-play, 72-yard drive that was capped by Decker’s 15-yard touchdown catch with 26 seconds left before the half and gave New York a 14-10 lead.
Marcus Williams intercepted a pass by Manziel intended for Brian Hartline in the third quarter — and the Jets made the Browns pay.
With a short field to work with, starting on the Browns 28, Fitzpatrick connected with Marshall for 17 yards on third-and-2 and then threw a fade to Marshall for a 1-yard TD on third down to give New York a 21-10 lead with 7:51 left in the third quarter.
Ivory sealed the game with a 3-yard run just over 10 minutes left.
The touchdown came a few minutes after Mauldin was carted off the field with his body strapped to a board. The third-round pick out of Louisville sacked Manziel and caused a fumble that Darrelle Revis recovered deep in Browns territory. Trainers and medical staff rushed over to Mauldin and called for the cart as several Jets players stood and watched, with MetLife Stadium completely silent.
The Browns appeared ready to score on their opening drive, but two big hits on one play kept Cleveland out of the end zone — and knocked McCown out of the game.
On third-and-goal from the Jets 14, McCown took off up the middle and dived for the goal line. As he left his feet, McCown was hit by Calvin Pryor and Demario Davis, knocking the ball out of the quarterback’s hands and out of the end zone for a touchback.
McCown suffered a concussion, allowing Manziel to get in — amid some hearty boos from Jets fans.
On his fifth play, Manziel lofted a perfectly placed pass down the left sideline that landed right in the hands of Benjamin, who outran Cromartie to give the Browns a 7-0 lead.