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Tuesday, November 16, 2010
AFC East Week 10 decisive moment

By Tim Graham

» NFC Decisive Moments: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South

You can argue the decisive moment happened with 1:35 left in sudden death, when Cleveland Browns safety Joe Haden declined to bat down Mark Sanchez's long third-down prayer and instead chose to intercept on the 3-yard line.

You certainly can argue the decisive moment happened with 16 seconds left in overtime, when Santonio Holmes took a quick slant 37 yards into the end zone to give the New York Jets a 26-20 victory.

I prefer to argue the decisive moment came in between.

The Jets might have pinned the Browns deep in their own territory anyway with a Steve Weatherford punt. And the Jets might have won the game anyway with a Nick Folk field goal (OK, maybe a stretch based on his three earlier misses, but play along with me here).

Browns coach Eric Mangini opened the door for the Jets to win because of the way he managed the end of the game. With 95 seconds and three timeouts, Mangini essentially sealed his fate by going for the win and not settling for the tie.

Browns fans couldn't be upset with his aggressiveness, but the decision turned a draw into a Jets victory.

Browns quarterback Colt McCoy threw an incomplete pass to tight end Benjamin Watson, taking only five seconds off the clock. Then the Browns chose to hand off to Peyton Hillis, who gained 2 yards and then paused before calling a timeout. On third down, Jason Taylor and Shaun Ellis teamed up to sack McCoy at the 2-yard line.

The Jets called their last timeout with 35 ticks remaining and forced Reggie Hodges to punt from the back of his end zone.

Cleveland failed to gain yardage or run out the clock.

The Jets, however, wound up with just enough time and space to notch another win.