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Top five plays of the New York Jets’ perfect 2022 preseason

Denzel Mims, New York Jets, Preseason Highlights
Denzel Mims, New York Jets, Getty Images

It was a memorable preseason for the Green and White

For the second straight year, the New York Jets have survived the preseason without a loss.

Head coach Robert Saleh‘s squad rattled off three straight come-from-behind victories against the Eagles, Falcons, and Giants, providing fans with an ample dose of drama and excitement before the real games begin in September.

With most of the veteran starters watching from the sidelines, rookies, backups, and relative unknowns stepped up to the plate and made their cases to land a spot on a final 53-man roster, if not with New York, then hopefully somewhere else.

Big hits, explosive plays, and surprisingly clutch quarterbacking were common occurrences in every exhibition, but which plays were the best of the best?

These are the Top 5 plays of the Jets’ 2022 preseason.

5. Linebacker Kwon Alexander blows up Giants’ running back Antonio Williams

The Jets’ defense faced their fair share of questions after some early-game struggles in their first few matchups, but no one has questioned their physicality. New York’s coaching staff emphasizes violence on the field, and the players have taken that message to heart, charging to the ball with reckless abandon for themselves or their targets.

No single play exemplified this mentality better than linebacker Kwon Alexander‘s crushing hit on Giants running back Antonio Williams.

Since joining the Jets in the middle of training camp, Alexander has gained a reputation for his high energy on and off the field, and his hit on Williams certainly backs up the hype.

As incredible as the hit itself was, it would not have happened without an impressive effort from Alexander to track Williams across the length of the field before meeting him in the hole and laying the boom.

Despite joining the team late, Alexander is expected to play a major role in the middle of New York’s defense, and plays like this are the reason why.

If not for defensive tackle Tanzel Smart failing to secure the fumbled ball, this play likely would’ve ranked higher.

4. Wide receiver Denzel Mims’s 29-yard touchdown grab against the Giants

Denzel Mims has been one of the most controversial players on the Jets’ roster since he was drafted in the second round of the 2020 draft.

After falling down the depth chart, Mims reportedly requested a trade ahead of the Giants game, and with the spotlight firmly on him, Mims turned in the best performance of his pro career, including scoring his first and only touchdown.

Before his scoring grab, Mims had already racked up six catches for 73 yards. Despite the full attention of the Giants’ defense, Mims still managed to get behind the coverage and find the ball in the air, then secure the pass while falling to the ground.

Whether Denzel Mims’s recent explosion was a thrilling finale to his time in New York or a sign of a coming bright future is yet to be seen, but if this truly was the end, Mims definitely went out with a bang.

3. Defensive end Bradlee Anae’s sack, scoop, and score against the Falcons

The Jets’ defense forced four total turnovers across their three preseason games, nearly 30 percent of their team total for the entirety of 2021, with one defensive touchdown courtesy of pass rusher Bradlee Anae.

With the Falcons facing a third-and-eight near midfield down a point midway through the fourth quarter, the Jets’ defense was desperate for a stop, and Anae gave them a whole lot more.

Knowing the Falcons were in third-and-long and unlikely to run the ball, Anae smartly didn’t fall for the play-action and instead pursued Falcon’s quarterback Feleipe Franks. Unable to get away from Anae, Franks tripped and dropped the ball, leading Anae to pick it up and run uncontested into the end zone, giving the Jets an eight-point lead they would never relinquish.

Due to the Jets’ plethora of talent at defensive end, it’s unlikely Anae will make the final roster despite his strong preseason. However, Anae’s career is far from over, as another team should be quick to scoop him up if he were to come available.

Bradlee Anae might not have a home in New York, but he does have a home in the NFL.

2. Cornerback Michael Carter II’s leaping interception of Giants’ quarterback Tyrod Taylor

Michael Carter II‘s first-quarter pick against the Giants is a one-play summation of what the Jets want their defense to look like.

The defensive line, led by end John Franklin-Myers, forced Giants’ passer Tyrod Taylor out of the pocket, where he had no choice but to attempt a late throw down the field. Carter II, keeping his eyes on Taylor, stayed patient and drifted towards the sideline before vaulting into the air and snatching the ball for the turnover, making Taylor pay for his risky decision.

Carter II’s exceptional acrobatics were the highlight of the play, but the entire defense deserves credit for working in tandem.

Just as Saleh and defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich had planned, the defensive line created havoc, and the secondary capitalized on said havoc, a scenario they are sure to try and replicate time and time again during the regular season.

1. Quarterback Chris Streveler’s game-winning five-yard touchdown pass to beat the Eagles

The fact that formerly unknown reserve quarterback Chris Streveler would claim the top spot was never a question. The only question was which one of Streveler’s magic moments would stand above the rest.

Considering the Eagles game was the start of “Streveler-Mania”, it’s only right to crown Streveler’s first clutch moment as his best, and the number one play of the Jets’ 2022 preseason.

Standing at the Eagles’ five-yard-line down four points with 21 seconds left in the game, Streveler catapulted himself into the hearts of Jets fans with a game-winning touchdown toss to wide receiver Calvin Jackson Jr. Streveler would go on to lead two more fourth-quarter comebacks against both the Falcons and Giants, including a second game-winning touchdown to Jackson Jr. to beat the Giants on the same play-call the pair used to beat the Eagles.

Streveler’s unexpected heroics were the story of the Jets’ 2022 preseason. The former Grey Cup champion did just about everything he could’ve to secure a spot on the Jets’ final roster or impress the rest of the league if the Jets decide to move on.

The world won’t know whether Chris Streveler will stay a Jet or find a new home until after the last round of roster cuts on Tuesday afternoon, but whether he remains in green and white or not, Streveler will always have a place in Jets’ history.

The preseason is all about celebrating the hundreds of players fighting to fulfill their childhood dreams of playing professional football, and no player during the 2022 preseason better represented that for the Jets better than Streveler.

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