Zach Wilson, NY Jets, Jaguars, Highlights, Touchdown run
Zach Wilson, New York Jets, Getty Images

Zach Wilson outduels Trevor Lawrence in MetLife thriller

  • New York Jets 26 (4-11)
  • Jacksonville Jaguars 21 (2-13)
  • NFL, Final, Week 16, Box Score
  • MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ

A game between teams with a combined five wins surprisingly turned into one of the most exciting tilts of the NFL’s Week 16 slate.

Behind 193 total yards from Zach Wilson and 118 more on the ground from fellow freshman Michael Carter, the New York Jets (4-11) earned a 26-21 win over Trevor Lawrence and the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-13) at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.

New York Jets, Jacksonville Jaguars, 2021, Week 16 Final
New York Jets, Jacksonville Jaguars, 2021, Week 16 Final, Jet X Graphic, Getty Images

Jacksonville got things rolling with a 12-play, 73-yard drive that ended with Matthew Wright’s short 21-yard field goal. The trek could’ve been stopped after three plays but a fake punt from the Jaguars, earned on a four-yard direct snap run by Andrew Wingard, put them in business.

History awaited on the Jets’ first possession, as Zach Wilson put the Jets ahead on a 52-yard scoring run, the longest ground tally by a quarterback in team history. Alas for New York, a blocked extra point kept things at a 6-3 lead.

Jacksonville earned its first touchdown in a most unusual fashion, as offensive lineman Will Richardson recovered a Trevor Lawrence fumble in the end zone to move the lead over.

But Braxton Berrios helped the Jets swipe it right back, taking the ensuing kickoff back 103 yards for New York’s first kick return touchdown since 2018.

The Jaguars narrowed the gap to a point on another Wright field goal before the Jets’ final possession of the half fizzled out two yards away from the end zone. New York converted 2-of-3 fourth-down tries, earned through Wilson’s arm (a 10-yard completion to Berrios) and legs (a 17-yard scramble).

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Granted the ball in the second half, the Jets earned an Eddy Pineiro field from 42 yards out to re-establish a four-point lead. They immediately earned another prime opportunity to score when C.J. Mosley’s sack of Lawrence led to Ronald Blair’s fumble recovery.

Alas, the Jets were unable to capitalize, as Braden Mann was stopped short of the goal line on a fake field goal attempt.

Yet another Wright field goal, this one from 40 yards away, once again cut down the Jets’ lead to one.

But another clutch touchdown arrived at the end of an 11-play, 80-yard drive, capped off in show-stopping fashion when Wilson found offensive lineman Connor McDermott on a tackle-eligible play.

Jacksonville would strike back on a touchdown run for Dare Ogunbowale (replacing the injured James Robinson), though their deficit was at two this time thanks to a failed two-point conversion.

The Jets made it to the Jacksonville one on their next drive, which was mostly sustained through a 38-yard carry by Michael Carter.

Alas, New York failed to earn the last yard, done in by a false start penalty that pushed them five back. Pineiro’s short field goal at least assured that Jacksonville would need a touchdown to earn a rare win.

Lawrence nearly earned a signature moment of his own, likewise getting the Jaguars a yard away from the win, but his final pass fell incomplete, thanks in part to strong coverage by Javelin Guidry on a pass intended for Marvin Jones.

Having doubled their win total from last season, the Jets return to action next Sunday afternoon in their home finale against the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1 p.m. ET, Fox).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

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Geoff Magliocchetti is a veteran football writer with years of credentialed experience with the Jets and Giants. Email: geoffmags90@gmail.com
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Jets71
Jets71
9 months ago

That was a great team win. I’m not one to overreact with excitement but that was a “culture win” so chalk one up for Robert Saleh and Joe D. I don’t care that it was the Jags etc. but the word decimated isn’t even a fair description of what happened to that team last week. There are guys out of position, guys signed off waivers, practice squads, top talent at all positions on the bench, pre-game scratches, in-game injuries, no head coach, and somehow they found a way to win. That’s good stuff and to me really encouraging for what’s to come. More needs to be made of this win, if it was a comedy of errors we’d be throwing up at the amount of ink the game got, they deserve credit on this one.