Surprising Jets edge up-and-coming Jags in OT
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Break up the New York Jets?
Well, no, if anything, they were extremely lucky to survive Sunday’s game.
Thought to be one of the worst teams in the league only two weeks ago, New York has made a stark turnaround the last two games at home. On Sunday, the Jets defeated an up-and-coming Jacksonville Jaguars team, 23-20, in overtime at MetLife Stadium.
Chandler Catanzaro made a 41-yard field goal with 28 seconds left in the extra period to win it. But for a few moments, it looked like the NFL’s first tie of the season was inevitable.
“If it wasn’t for (punter) Lachlan Edwards, I don’t know what would’ve happened,” Catanzaro said. “When it’s overtime, a lot of times it’s about the kickers.”
Each team had three overtime possessions, which will be rare now that OT periods are only 10 minutes long.
The Jets (2-2) were forced to punt from their own 25-yard line with 2:20 left in the extra session, and Edwards, who also completed a pass earlier in the game on a fake punt, kicked the ball 70 yards to the Jacksonville 5. A penalty pushed the Jaguars (2-2) to their own 3 and they went three-and-out, losing a yard in the process.
Jeremy Kerley returned the punt nine yards, and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Paul Posluszny gave the Jets the ball on the Jaguars’ 25. Two 1-yard runs and a spike to stop the clock and there was Catanzaro, looking to atone for a missed field goal just before halftime.
“That’s the last thing you want to have happen, for that kick to haunt you,” Catanzaro said. “It was killing me sitting on the sideline. I hated it because these guys were working their tails off, and they deserved for that one to go through the post. I was just thankful for another opportunity.”
So were the Jets after Jacksonville made a stunning fourth-quarter comeback — mostly due to Jets mistakes.
With the Jets inside the red zone trying to ice the game, Jacksonville’s Myles Jack scooped up a backward pass and returned the ball 81 yards to make it 20-17 with 10:20 to play. Then, cornerback A.J. Bouye intercepted a Josh McCown pass with 3:19 to play, and Jason Myers hit a 22-yard field goal with 46 seconds left to tie the game at 20.
“It was just a bad break,” McCown said of the backwards pass, which went down as a fumble. “I thought we had (the play) squared away in practice, but obviously we didn’t.”
Defensively, the Jets had another strong effort after they nearly shut out Miami last week. Their big play on Sunday was defensive lineman Kony Ealy’s interception, when he tipped a Blake Bortles pass in the air on a pass rush and came down with it himself. That led to a Catanzaro 26-yard field goal that gave New York a 20-10 lead with 34 seconds left in the third quarter.
“I’ve done it before,” Ealy said. “We needed a turnover, period. We always want to play up, that’s our mentality on defense.”
The Jets also held heralded Jaguars rookie Leonard Fournette to 53 yards on 13 carries and three catches for 42 yards.
Early in the game, it was the Jets’ run game that stood out. Despite Matt Forte being sidelined with turf toe, Bilal Powell had a must-see 75-yard touchdown run and rookie Elijah McGuire had a 69-yarder — the first of his career — for a ground attack that amassed a season-high 256 yards. Powell had 163 yards on 21 carries, and McGuire 93 on 10 carries, as they combined for 8.0 yards per rush.
But it was the Jaguars who got on the board first, as Bortles rolled out and found Fournette in the flat for a 10-yard touchdown with 8:02 left in the first quarter. It was Fournette’s first career receiving touchdown, and Bortles’ seventh scoring pass of the season.
The Jets tied the game on the very next play from scrimmage, as Powell hurdled a defender, fell down without being touched and then got up and ran an additional 67 yards for a 75-yard touchdown. It was the longest play of the season for the Jets.
“I just saw the guy going for my legs and I just jumped and I didn’t feel anyone touch me and I didn’t hear a whistle,” Powell said. “That’s something that we practice throughout training camp — effort, finishing — and that was showed today.”
The play was reviewed, but Powell joked that he was getting oxygen on the sideline when it was replayed in the stadium, so he didn’t see it at the time. The seven-year veteran, whose previous long rush was 39 yards in 2013, scored for the second straight week.
But his rookie backfield mate McGuire scored in the NFL for the first time. After the teams traded field goals to make it 10-10, McGuire busted through the heart of the Jaguars’ defense and raced 69 yards to give the Jets a 17-10 lead with 10:13 left in the third quarter.
“I’ve scored a lot of college touchdowns,” the sixth-round pick out of Louisiana-Lafayette said, “but when you get an NFL touchdown, it’s different.”
The Jets visit the winless Browns next week before welcoming the Patriots to town.
“If you really think about it, two weeks ago we had a team that just got put together, so we’re kinda learning on the go,” said wide receiver Jermaine Kearse, who was traded to the Jets exactly one month ago. “How surprising is it (that the Jets) are 2-2 to ya’ll? That’s the real question.”
To be honest, Jermaine, it’s quite surprising.
NOTES: Jaguars RG A.J. Cann injured his thumb in the first quarter, but returned to the game. ... Jaguars SS Barry Church, in his first season with Jacksonville after seven with the Cowboys, recorded his first career sack. ... With two receptions, Jaguars FB Tommy Bohanon, a former Jet, had two or more catches in a game for the first time since Oct. 25, 2015. ... Jets OLB David Bass, starting in place of the injured Josh Martin, had a sack in his second straight game after he was acquired off waivers two weeks ago following his release from the Seahawks. ... Jets DE Leonard Williams limped off in the first quarter but returned later in the drive. ... Jets RG Brian Winters, who missed last week’s game with an abdominal injury, had two penalties, a hold and a false start, both in the first half. ... Jets rookie WR ArDarius Stewart had his first career kick return, a 32-yarder in the second quarter. ... Jets CB Darryl Roberts injured his hamstring and did not return. ... Jets LB Dylan Donahue was injured in overtime, and the extent of his elbow injury was unknown after the game.