The New York Jets’ second straight victory was fueled by Jamison Crowder contributions from every end of the box score.
On Christmas weekend, the only man busier than Jamison Crowder was probably Santa Claus himself.
The New York Jets’ slot receiver left his mark on Sunday’s 23-16 win over the Cleveland Browns. Crowder put up 149 yards of offense and reached the end zone twice, each score serving as a turning point in the Jets’ second consecutive victory.
Crowder conjured up some holiday nostalgia and magic for his first score, called upon to pass with the Jets trailing 3-0. He wound up launching a 43-yard score to Braxton Berrios to give the Jets a permanent lead. It was only the second pass of his NFL career and first since an incompletion in October 2015 while repping Washington…ironically in a contest against the Jets.
This ensuing toss was far more successful and harkened back to his days at Duke. Crowder threw four passes through trickery in his career in Durham, his last being a 21-yard touchdown in the 2014 Sun Bowl.
“I told him next series you might think about going back there and playing some snaps at QB,â€ quarterback Sam Darnold joked in a report from Zach Braziller of the New York Post. â€œWhat a dime though. He threw it perfectly and, yeah, it was awesome to see.â€
“I’ve never really played quarterback. But, you know, I’m an athlete,” Crowder said with a smile in another report from Andy Vazquez of NorthJersey.com. “I was just telling myself, ‘Just throw a dart,’ just make sure I put it where it needs to be.”
According to Crowder, the Jets (2-13) ran the trick play in practice on several occasions, but things never truly panned out. The complex duplicity involved rusher Ty Johnson faking a jet sweep before flipping the ball back to Crowder, a strong threat to unleash a reverse. Crowder would later show off his rushing prowess with a 14-yard sweep carry of his own to open the Jets’ next possession, setting the pace for another score (Darnold finding Chris Herndon to inflate the lead to 13-3).
But the plan went perfectly by design, as Crowder launched to an open Berrios, who had snuck by the unsuspecting Cleveland defense. Berrios then beat out Sheldrick Redwine to the pylon to complete the score and give the Jets the lead.
“You can’t really overthink it. You’ve got to just let things play out,” Crowder said, per Vazquez. “We ran it in practice a few times, and we connected in practice, but it really wasn’t where the ball should have been in practice. But I had all the confidence in myself that I was going to put it where it needed to be, and I had all the confidence that Berrios was going to catch it.”
Crowder would later help the Jets open the second half on the right note, this time returning to more traditional ways of scoring. His 30-yard scoring grab from Darnold was his team-high sixth of the season and put the Jets ahead 20-3. He wound end the day leading all receivers with 92 yards on seven receptions as the Jets eventually held on to a 23-16 triumph.
In the midst of two of the more difficult seasons in Jets history, Crowder has turned himself into one of the more dependable slot receivers in the NFL. He led the Jets in all major receiving categories last season (78 receptions, 833 yards, 6 touchdowns) and seems well on-pace to do it again in 2020 (55 receptions, 668 yards, 6 touchdowns). He’ll have one more opportunity to build on his stats in the Jets’ season finale in New England next weekend (1 p.m. ET, CBS).
Crowder is signed through the 2021 season, but could become a cap savings casualty with the Jets poised to save $10.5 million in space if he is moved. Nonetheless, the team has been impressed by the sense of stability he has brought to times of green chaos.
“The thing that Iâ€™d say about Crowder is that, over the last two seasons, he is so consistent,â€ head coach Adam Gase said in Braziller’s report. â€œYou can always count on him. The quarterback can definitely count on him being in the right spot, right time. Make the play that needs to be made in the moment, especially when itâ€™s a critical one.”
â€œWhen we need a big play, whether itâ€™s the perfect coverage or the perfect route, it seems like he comes down with the ball. He makes something happen when something needs to happen.â€
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags