By Nate Ulrich
Beacon Journal sports writer
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BEREA: Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon is eager for another date with MetLife Stadium. After all, it has been good to him.
Perhaps there is no better place for Gordon to rebound from one of his few quiet performances this season than the site of his breakout NFL game. The Browns (4-10) will go back to the venue where Gordon’s stardom first flickered when they visit the New York Jets (6-8) at 1 p.m. today.
As a rookie last season, Gordon put himself on the map with two catches for 82 yards in a 41-27 loss to the New York Giants, who share the stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., with the Jets. Gordon’s only two receptions on that Oct. 7 afternoon went for touchdowns of 62 and 20 yards. He didn’t have a touchdown as a professional until then.
“It’s definitely one of those places I could never forget, that’s for sure,” Gordon said. “The fact that I hadn’t done that already, the confidence is definitely there. It helps me with that. It’s a different team and a different time, but we’ve definitely come a long way from there. I know I have.
“Hopefully, I can match what I did there last year. I definitely plan on trying to have a big game there. It’s a big stage, one of the biggest. I’m definitely excited to go.”
The Browns and Jets have been mathematically eliminated from the postseason, and they’re limping toward the finish line with two games left. Gordon, though, insists he’s motivated despite the absence of meaning in the game.
“I just want to go out with a bang,” said Gordon, a second-round pick in last year’s supplemental draft. “I want to show a lot more consistency in these next two games and do the best I can to really and try to contribute as much as possible.”
If the Browns want to end their sixth consecutive season of at least 10 losses on a positive note, they’ll likely need Gordon to be much more involved than he was last weekend in a 38-31 loss to the Chicago Bears. Gordon finished with three catches for 67 yards, including a 43-yard touchdown he scored with 59 seconds remaining. He was targeted 10 times, but only once in the first half. He didn’t make a catch until the third quarter, which he conceded was frustrating.
“It’s just one of those games that things just didn’t click with us the same way they have been in the past,” said Gordon, who compiled an NFL-record 774 receiving yards in the previous four games. “Just an off game, I guess.
“There were chances we could’ve had to have a lot of big plays. We just missed out on a few of them. That’s unfortunate. But we plan on going into the next one with the same attitude, trying to do the same things, stretch the field and hopefully we can get it done.”
Offensive coordinator Norv Turner directed blame at quarterback Jason Campbell for missing throws to Gordon or just not throwing to him at all.
“We want Josh to get the ball,” Turner said. “He’s had a lot of balls thrown his way, and when a guy has back-to-back 200-yard games, obviously, we’re forcing the ball to him. The first pass of the game very easily could have been thrown to him. It wasn’t. And then we had another play up to him early, and they doubled him and the ball went somewhere else. I think he’ll get his share of plays [against the Jets].”
That will be vital for the Browns, especially because of the Jets’ strengths and weaknesses. They have the league’s No. 3-ranked defense against the run (86.1 yards allowed per game), but it’s also ranked 26th against the pass (255.4 yards allowed per game). They’re also susceptible to surrendering big plays, as evidenced by them allowing 44 passes of 20-plus yards and 14 passes of 40-plus yards.
Gordon, meanwhile, has 74 catches for an NFL-best 1,467 receiving yards and nine touchdowns despite serving a two-game suspension at the beginning of this season for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. His 122.3 yards per game and 19.8 yards per catch also lead the NFL. Thirteen of his 14 career touchdowns have been 20 yards or longer.
“Yikes. That’s scary,” Jets coach Rex Ryan said during a conference call. “Ooh, man, the run after catch is crazy. I’ve seen him catch a dig, and he breaks a tackle, goes for 80, slant goes for 80, outruns people on drives, and he’ll run by you. Obviously, the run after catch is something that jumps off the tape at you.”
Gordon is confident he’ll rebound from his unusual performance against the Bears and take out his frustrations on the Jets. He’s ready to do damage no matter which cornerback — two-time Pro Bowler Antonio Cromartie or rookie first-round pick Dee Milliner — covers him.
“Dee Milliner, as a rookie defensive back in the league, teams are going to go after you,” Gordon said. “That’s just how it is, and we’re going to do the same thing. He’s been struggling a lot this season. I think we might have a few matchups where I can get on him. But if I can’t, I’m going to do what I can with Cromartie.”
And if Gordon has his way, he’ll create more good memories at MetLife Stadium.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Browns blog at http://www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook www.facebook.com/browns.abj.