EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Dee Milliner didn't want to see a goose egg on the back of his card.
Entering Sunday, Milliner claimed he previously never had a season without an interception, but here he was with two games left in his rookie year and still no interception. It mattered to him.
In the third quarter against Cleveland, he finally grabbed that interception.
In the best performance of his career, Milliner recorded his first interception when he picked off Jason Campbell in the third quarter of the Jets' 24-13 win against the Browns on Sunday. Milliner also did quite well against Cleveland's Josh Gordon, as he had five passes defended.
"You could say in a way [it's a breakout game] because it's probably the best game I've had all season," Milliner said. "Great game. Great team win. It just felt good to get a win."
It's been a rough season for Milliner as he's struggled for most of the year, and has been benched three times. The first-round rookie hasn't lived up to expectations, as it seems he's been benched more times than he's produced game-changing plays. The team has maintained its faith in the rookie despite the rough outings, but there were times when he looked over his head and couldn't stay on the field.
Sunday, Milliner showed signs of turning the corner. Milliner's first interception came at a crucial time as he picked off Campbell with the Browns inside Jets' territory and the game tied at 10. Milliner said his coaches knew the Browns would go to the inside route, and positioned the players accordingly. The rookie followed Campbell's eyes and jumped a pass intended for Greg Little.
"I always try to be in the right spot," Milliner said. "I finally broke on the ball and I got my hands on it, and I just tried to keep it."
As big as the interception was for Milliner and the Jets, his performance against Gordon was the more uplifting part of his day. Milliner was told early in the week he would draw Gordon, and he immersed himself in video to prepare. He said the key was being physical and alert at all times, and credited the scout work for helping him prepare.
While Gordon hauled in six catches for 97 yards, he was targeted 16 times and held out of the end zone. In one key sequence, Milliner prevented Gordon from hauling in a touchdown catch on back-to-back plays in the second quarter. With the Jets down 3-0, Campbell tried to find Gordon twice, but Milliner was able to keep Gordon from securing the ball, and the Browns turned the ball over on downs.
Jets coach Rex Ryan was quite happy with Milliner's performance.
"I said at the end of the year that we'll see if this guy wasn't the best corner in the draft. I don't know. [Gordon]'s a pretty darn good receiver, Milliner had [five] PBU's and an interception, but we'll see," Ryan said. "I've seen a few players come down the road in my day. This guy here is going to be an outstanding player."