CLEVELAND — Defensive end Myles Garrett made an instant impact Sunday, sacking Jets quarterback Josh McCown on his first play as a professional.
It was one of the few highlights of the afternoon for the Browns, who dropped a 17-14 decision to New York and remained winless through five games.
The 6-foot-4, 272-pounder finished with two sacks — becoming the first No. 1 overall pick to post more than one in his NFL debut — despite being limited to 18 snaps as he recovers from a high right ankle sprain.
“Go get the quarterback, don’t overthink it,” Garrett said of his philosophy. “It was nice getting my first sack, but we’re all just trying to do our part. One of my teammates said that they have a book on our first sacks, but for me, I’m just trying to make an impact and give us the best chance to win.”
The Texas A&M product, who was injured on the eve of the regular season, is the first top overall selection with a sack in his initial game since Indianapolis’ Steve Emtman in 1992. Garrett also became the first Cleveland player with multiple sacks in his NFL debut since Charles Buchanan in 1988.
McCown said he was impressed with the 21-year-old rookie, who is 17 years his junior.
“When you see him out there and see him in pads, he looks the part,” McCown said. “I think that’s important when you’re building something, especially when you hold the first overall pick. I think they are in good hands when he gets healthy.”
Garrett admitted that his ankle was “a little bit sore” after unwrapping it in the locker room, but insisted that he could have handled a heavier workload. Jackson assured him that it will occur in due time.
“We had him on a ‘pitch count,’ and I think that was important,” Jackson said. “He was supposed to play a little bit, and his energy was outstanding. I know there were a couple plays he made early in the game which were great. We have to keep growing like that with him.”
Play of the day
Jackson eschewed a potential game-tying field goal with 13:03 left in the fourth quarter, handing off to Isaiah Crowell on fourth-and-2 from the Jets’ 4. He made the decision after taking a timeout to think it over.
Despite running behind the highest-paid right guard in the NFL in Kevin Zeitler and having three tight ends on the field, “Crow” only gained a yard. New York took possession and marched 97 yards for the clinching touchdown.
“That call, that decision can be questioned, I get it,” Jackson said. “I thought we had a good play that had a chance to make it. We just didn’t execute as well as we could. Obviously, they stopped us.”
Jets cornerback Buster Skrine said coach Todd Bowles expected the Browns to go for it on fourth down, citing their tendencies under Jackson.
“That’s why we, the defense, stayed on the field the whole time,” Skrine said.
Bowles empathized with Jackson’s plight, saying there was no right answer with New York leading 10-7.
“If you make it, it’s a great call, and if you don’t, it’s not a good call,” he said. “I’m just happy we stopped them.”
Just for kicks
Browns kicker Zane Gonzalez was wide left on field goal attempts from 52 and 39 yards, giving him three straight misses over two games. The rookie from Arizona State is 2-of-5 on the year, putting his job in jeopardy.
“Two kicks should have been made, it just sucks,” Gonzalez said. “Everybody has a day that you just want to forget and you don’t want to think about it. That is today, obviously, and it was a loss by three points, which sucks extra bad.”
Cleveland opted to keep Gonzalez and cut incumbent Cody Parkey at the end of the preseason. Parkey was immediately claimed off waivers by Miami and is 4-for-4 on field goals. He was named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week on Sept. 20.
Jackson declined to say if the Browns will keep Gonzalez on their roster.
“We will see,” he said. “Obviously, we need to continue to get better in some places. We all know that, and we will.”
Browns linebacker Jamie Collins (concussion), wide receiver Kenny Britt (knee, groin), guard Marcus Martin, tackle Zach Banner, quarterback Cody Kessler, and defensive tackles T.Y. McGill and Caleb Brantley were inactive. Ricardo Louis started for Britt and made a team-high five receptions.
Linebacker James Burgess (left knee) was hurt in the second half and did not return. …
Not in uniform for the Jets were running back Matt Forte (knee, toe), linebacker Josh Martin (ankle), defensive end Kony Ealy (shoulder), linebacker Obum Gwacham, quarterback Christian Hackenberg, and cornerbacks Darryl Roberts (hamstring) and Juston Burris (foot).
Running back Bilal Powell (calf) exited in the second quarter, leaving third-stringer Elijah McGuire to carry the load for the remainder of the game.
The Browns fell to 0-5 this season and are 1-20 under Jackson, 2-30 over their last 32 games, and 4-38 since Nov. 30, 2014. …
The kickoff conditions were 67 degrees under mostly sunny skies. Cleveland wore all-white jerseys, while New York sported its classic green uniforms. …
FirstEnergy Stadium was roughly 80 percent full all afternoon. The official paid attendance was 62,032. …
The Jets have won five straight over Cleveland, but trail the all-time series 13-12 and have been outscored 516-503.
Quote of the day
“I just let Hue know (while walking off the field) that I’m thinking about him, that I loved him, and to hang in there. I know he’s fighting a fight. I believe in him. I just wanted him to know that.” — Jets quarterback Josh McCown, who was released by the Browns on Feb. 7