Shaq Lawson’s crucial takeaway helped the Jets take the lead for good
An upset win over the toast of the AFC? Child’s play, Shaq Lawson said.
The New York Jets‘ defensive end was in the holiday spirit when he arrived for Sunday’s Halloween tilt against the Cincinnati Bengals. Lawson didn’t walk through MetLife Stadium’s gates – that honor was instead reserved for Chucky, a living, cinematic, killer doll who has appeared in eight films and an ongoing television series.
Fortunately for the depth-starved Jets, the doll’s arrival was merely Lawson’s Halloween costume, his identity given away by a necklace bearing the number 90, his numerals from prior professional stops in Houston and Miami.
Shaq Lawson really said spooky season pic.twitter.com/ZgBd9qhh0p
— Jets Videos (@snyjets) October 31, 2021
Unfortunately for the visiting Bengals, the scares didn’t end when the game began.
Lawson helped permanently shift momentum to the Jets’ side with a crucial interception that set up the eventual winning score. With an improbable victory in sight and Gang Green (2-5) in desperate need of a defensive stand, a blitzing Lawson tipped a Joe Burrow pass headed Ja’Marr Chase’s way.
Not satisfied with simply severing the LSU connection, Lawson opted for outright thievery. The wayward toss landed in his arms, situating the Jets 14 yards away from erasing Cincinnati’s 31-26 lead.
JETS INTERCEPTION. #TakeFlight
📺: #CINvsNYJ on CBS
📱: NFL app pic.twitter.com/2l8eszXsoZ
— NFL (@NFL) October 31, 2021
Quarterback Mike White cashed in two plays later, finding Tyler Kroft for the go-ahead touchdown before “Philly special”-esque trickery saw Jamison Crowder find the replacement quarterback for an additional pair of points with 3:45 remaining in regulation.
One more defensive stand forced a Cincinnati punt before White and Co. were able to run out the clock on a 34-31 victory over the AFC North leaders.
Lawson’s critical takeaway was the Jets defense’s first interception of the season, ending an eight-game drought dating back to Bryce Hall’s robbery of Jared Goff in Los Angeles last December. Even the former first-rounder was surprised that he was the one to end the dubious streak, which head coach Robert Saleh described as “the deciding factor” of the Jets’ upset bid.
“I didn’t even think I was going to get (the interception),” Lawson said in the aftermath, per notes from the Jets. “The play happened so slow … I know I tipped it, but it just looked like I blacked out. I don’t think I was thinking. Like, I got to catch this. I can’t let Joe Burrow interfere with me on that.”
The Burrow burglary was the first interception of Lawson’s six-year career.
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Despite his own incredulity, Lawson’s heroics were no surprise to fellow linebacker C.J. Mosley. While Lawson rang in Halloween by channeling one of the horror genre’s most popular antagonists, Mosley suggested that Lawson donned yet another new identity during the game.
“That’s a Hall of Fame defensive end type of play,” Mosley, who tallied a team-best 10 tackles, said of Lawson’s big play. “I think about Terrell Suggs doing that all the time, tipping the ball and getting it to himself. What a great time to have that happen.”
Lawson and the Jets return to action on Thursday night, as they’ll battle the Indianapolis Colts in a prime-time showdown (8:20 p.m. ET, Fox/NFL Network).
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags