EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ –
Running-backs Bilal Powell and Elijah McGuire combined for over 250 yards on the ground and the New York Jets beat the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday 23-20 in OT. The victory puts the Jets to 2-2 on the year and tied with the New England Patriots for second place in the AFC East (Yes you read that correctly). The loss bumps Jacksonville to 2-2 also and are tied with the Texans and Titans for first place in the AFC South.
On a day where the Jets inducted their long-time Pro Bowl center, Kevin Mawae, into their Ring of Honor, the Jets offensive-line churned out one of their better performances in franchise history. Powell and McGuire both averaged over 7 yards per carry in the game en route to a combined 200 yard effort. It was the first time that the Jets had two RB’s rush for over 90 yards in a game since LaDanian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene both ran for over 100 yards in 2010. Head Coach Todd Bowles was pleased with the performance from both.
“Both of those guys did a great job popping through and running the football. It’s a tough defense to run against. We needed every big play they got. Those guys did a heck of a job.”
Bilal Powell got the scoring started for New York with the Jets down 7-0 in the First Quarter with a 75 yard scamper. Powell left over a defensive player and fell to the ground. Believing he was never down by contact, Powell got up and ran into the end zone. After official review it was found that Powell was never touched and the TD stood. It was the second longest rush in Jets history, behind Bruce Harper’s 79 yard dash against Atlanta in 1983. Powell finished the day with 163 yards rushing.
Both teams traded field goals in the second quarter and went into the half tied at 10. Five minutes into the third quarter and it was Elijah McGuire who had his own scamper, as the rookie cut his way up the field for a 69 yard TD run. McGuire had carried the ball only 10 times but had 93 yards in the game and his first career Touchdown.
The running game was not the only facet of the game that the Jets dominated. Throughout Sunday’s battle, the Jets Special Teams squad continued to look sharp. In Overtime, with the score tied at 20, Jets Punter Lachlan Edwards, hit a 70 yard punt that backed the Jaguars to their own three yard line. After the Jaguars shanked their own punt after a three-and-out, Jets kicker Chandler Catanzaro kicked a 41-yard field goal to win it for New York.
Defensively, the Jets swarmed to the ball throughout the game and looked every bit of the young and talented group that people have seen before. Kony Ealy recorded an interception after deflecting a Blake Bortles rushed pass, and the Jets linebackers stifled the read hot TE, Marcedes Lewis. Lewis did not record a catch a week after scoring three touchdowns in London. The defense fed off the emotion of a loud MetLife Stadium and swarmed for gang tackles all over the field.
Even though the Jets lead by 10 at the start of the fourth quarter, the Jaguars fought back and tied the game at 20 to bring the game into Overtime. Todd Bowles saw the fight, growth and maturity of his young team.
“Three weeks ago, we wouldn’t have recovered from this. Right now, they’re growing every week. They didn’t flinch. They stood up and made some plays at the end. They knew the game wasn’t over, which is a credit to those guys.”
The Jets (2-2) will travel to Cleveland next week to take on the winless Browns at 1:00pm.
The Jaguars (2-2) battle Pittsburgh next week in the Steel City at 1:00pm.
1.Todd Bowles for Way-To-Early COY
Seriously. At the beginning of the season, with all the talent that they lost offensively and defensively, no one gave the Jets a chance in any game this season. People expected the Jets to focus on losing every game. Now here the Jets are at 2-2 and tied with the Patriots of all teams in the AFC East. That is a testament to Bowles and his staff. The offense has not lost games for the defense and the defense has kept the team in games they should have no business being in. I am not saying that the Jets are going to make the playoffs but in terms of quality of play, the Jets are exceeding expectations when it comes to on-field performance. Todd Bowles should get the opportunity to coach up this young talent until they become true contenders in the NFL.
There has been a complete change in the style of play the Jets defense has shown in the last two weeks. In the first two games of the season, the Jets were giving up an average of 33 points per game and giving up a third down conversion percentage of 55%. Since then, however, the Jets defense has been much sharper. In Weeks three and four, the Jets have given up an average of 13 points per game and a third down conversion percentage of only 18%. This is due in large part to both Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye really starting to settle in as rookies. Adams was all over the field once again. Maye was very solid in pass coverage and got his hand on two Bortles’ passes, almost coming away with one of them. The Jets rookie safety tandem has showed large improvements and that has filtered down to the rest of the defense.
The Jets are still one of the least-talented teams in the NFL. Despite this, they sit at 2-2 on the season and are beginning to find their true identity. Run the football effectively, and swarm to the football on defense. With a team that is low on talent, both of these facets must be accomplished if that team wants to win football games. Over the past two games, the Jets have done just that. With the defense looking much better than they did at the start of the season and McGuire showing that he can be the perfect compliment to Powell instead of Forte, the Jets have the perfect formula to sneak away some more victories during the 2017 season.
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