Wild-Card Weekend an All-New York Affair as the Jets Win, 37-10

From Times Wire Services

The Jets made sure that the NFL playoffs have a distinctive off-Broadway flair.

Johnny Hector rushed for two short touchdowns Sunday to lead the New York Jets into the playoffs with a 37-10 victory over the AFC Central champion Cleveland Browns.

The Jets' victory made them the host in the AFC wild-card game and came one day after the New York Giants clinched the home-field in the NFC wild-card game. The Jets (11-5) will play the New England Patriots at Giants Stadium on Saturday, and the Giants will meet the San Francisco 49ers there on Sunday.

Both wild-card games had been scheduled for Sunday, but the AFC game had to be switched since both the Jets and Giants play at Giants Stadium.

After the Jets' victory Sunday, tackle Marvin Powell, a ninth-year pro from USC, said: "It's a tribute to our coaching staff, to our owner, to ourselves and the city of New York. It's a pleasure to be in this locker room with the playoffs ahead of us.

"We're excited about it. Tonight, we will celebrate, tomorrow we'll start to work."

Hector's five-yard touchdown sweep late in the first half and one-yard scoring dive in the third quarter snapped a 10-10 tie.

The Jets opened the season by losing to the Raiders, 31-0, and, after two straight 7-9 seasons, little was expected for them.

"When we lost that game to the Raiders no one was thinking this far ahead," Jet defensive end Barry Bennett said. "But we continued to think we were a good football team and (Coach) Joe Walton said that we were a good football team.

"He could have really chewed us out and instead he told us we were real good. I think him telling us that had a lot to do with what happened 15 weeks later."

Wide receiver Kurt Sohn, who like Hector is a backup, also played a key role in the win, scoring an unusual touchdown late in the first quarter when the Browns led, 7-3.

Sohn wrestled the ball from free safety Don Rogers, who appeared to have an interception at the Cleveland 8 on an overthrow by Jet quarterback Ken O'Brien, then bobbled it before scooting into the end zone.

Cleveland (8-8) is the first non-winning team to win a division title and will play AFC East champion Miami in two weeks. Minnesota's 8-7-1 NFC Central-winning record in 1978 had been the worst division championship record.

The Browns became only the third team in NFL history to finish the regular season with a pair of 1,000-yard running backs.

Earnest Byner rushed for 18, then nine yards on the final two plays of the game to go over the 1,000-yard barrier. He finished the season with 1,002 yards, picking up 101 against the Jets.

Rookie Kevin Mack entered the game with 1,074 yards and added 30 to that total.

Previously, the Miami Dolphins with Larry Csonka and Mercury Morris, and the Pittsburgh Steelers with Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier, had double 1,000-yard runners.

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