CLEVELAND — Todd Bowles wasn’t comparing the Browns to the New England Patriots, but he did bring them up.

“I don’t want to lose to anybody,” the Jets coach said after a 21-17 loss Thursday night, “so the fact that we lost to them is no different than losing to New England or anybody else.”

Bowles brushed aside losing to a team that was in an epic 4-50-1 slump, instead tipping his cap to assorted things the Browns achieved during the game.

Jets quarterback Sam Darnold kept kicking himself afterward, saying he needed to play better, but Bowles said the Browns' defense was part of the rookie’s problems.

“You have to have time to get the ball downfield, and they had it covered at times,” Bowles said. “I thought Sam made some good decisions most of the way.”

Bowles acknowledged Browns rookie No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield, who didn’t appear until late in the first half but wound up outpassing No. 3 overall pick Darnold 201 yards to 169 without throwing an interception (Darnold threw two interceptions).

Tyrod Taylor completed 4-of-14 passes for 19 yards before getting hurt. Mayfield completed 17-of-23 and produced points on four of his first five series.

“They were the same plays,” Bowles said. “We knew what the quarterbacks were. We knew one ran more than the other. [Mayfield] just did a good job, and we didn’t.

“I give the guy credit. He played well.”

Aside from special teams, the Browns have cleaned up penalties since incurring 11 in the opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers. They didn’t make as many mental mistakes as the Jets, whose most conspicuous one was ex-Brown Isaiah Crowell’s disturbing celebration after a touchdown. That drew a no-brainer flag.

“That was inexcusable,” Bowles said. “We addressed it and it will never happen again.”

Browns coach Hue Jackson said he saw plenty of things that make him think the Browns can win again and again.

Jackson presented a game ball to defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, whose unit allowed just 268 yards. The Jets managed only a field goal in the second half after a first-half hiccup during which Darnold led consecutive touchdown drives of 28 and 63 yards.

“Teams are going to find a way to exploit you, and then Gregg is going to figure it out,” Jackson said. “That is one thing about him. He told me ‘Hue, here’s what is going on. I am going to get that shored up.’ He did. That is what it is all about.

“Gregg is a mad magician, trust me. I go in his office all of the time, and he is sitting there and he has it. Gregg is outstanding. I enjoy working with Gregg.”

Williams is in his second year with Jackson, who gave up his offensive coordinator role this year when the team hired Todd Haley.

Haley and Mayfield clicked, but the Browns still trailed 14-12 after a touchdown late in the third quarter. The Browns tied the score on a trick play, a 2-point conversion on which wide receiver Jarvis Landry passed to Mayfield in the end zone.

It was a flashback to the Super Bowl, when Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles was on the receiving end of a similar trick play.

“We did not steal that from them ... please,” Jackson said. “We have had that in our back pocket for a while. Go check my tricks from before, and go check Todd’s tricks from before. You pull them out and use them.”

Jackson used a new kicker, Greg Joseph, who made both of his field-goal tries and his only point-after attempt, giving the Browns a lead one point beyond a field goal (21-17) with 2:04 left. That was a big deal four days after the previous kicker, Zane Gonzalez, missed two point-after kicks and two field goals.

Asked about Joseph, Jackson smiled ruefully while remembering how a game at New Orleans got away. He looked to the back of a room as if seeing imaginary goalposts and pointed to a pretend spot right down the middle.

“I tell him, ‘That is what you are here for. As long as it goes through the uprights, you can stay. If it does not, you might have to go,’” Jackson said. “That is just how it works.”

As long as Jackson wins again soon, he, too, can stay. That is also how it works.