The Jets prevailed on Sunday with a 24–20 comeback win over the Steelers in Pittsburgh, marking their second win of the young season and giving hope to fans about their potential throughout the remainder of the year.
Quarterback Zach Wilson made his season debut after clearing rehab protocols for a torn meniscus and bone bruise suffered in preseason, while the team continues to deal with significant injury-related absences in other parts of the roster.
While the Steelers are not the best team in the league, the Jets have to be feeling good sitting at a 2–2 record, considering they won a total of four games over the entire season last year.
So who stepped up, and who faltered during the Sunday victory? Here’s the grades for Week 4:
If the game ended after three quarters, this grade would be far lower. Wilson, playing the first game of his sophomore season, looked unadjusted to the pace of NFL play through 45 minutes.
Wilson, leading the first nine drives of the game, saw the Jets punt five times, score one touchdown (which he caught in the endzone off a trick play) and a field goal, while tossing two interceptions to Steelers’ defenders.
Still, despite scoring just 10 points, there was room for optimism about the young quarterback, as he found Elijah Moore a few times for big plays, and his movement looked unhindered by his recent leg injuries.
When the fourth quarter came, though, is when Wilson really put it all together and improved his game.
The 23-year-old looked like he shook off the rust from earlier in the game, and looked very poised in the face of consistent pressure from Pittsburgh.
Down by 10 points in the fourth, Wilson led a 81-yard, 11-play drive down the field — including finding Corey Davis on a 22-yard pass on fourth down with the game in the balance, and then again for 5 yards into the endzone.
The team then got the ball back with time running out, down three, and Wilson again led them for 10 yards and into the endzone to win the game.
That mental toughness is something fans did not see from Wilson last year, and his poise is a solid hope for his prospects going forward — and earns him a B for the game.
Running Backs: B-
The Jets have failed to rack up more than 100 yards on the ground in any game this season, despite investing in the running back position in the second round of the 2022 Draft (making Breece Hall the first running back taken).
Hall has shown flashes, and averaged 3.9 yards per rush on Sunday, along with the game-winning score, but hasn’t proved to be the all-around elite back that fans were hoping for.
Wide receivers/Tight ends: A-
Wilson’s early performance didn’t give the wide receiving core much to work with, but they still held there own — and several different pass-catchers contributed throughout the game, which is a good sign for the once-thought-top-heavy lineup.
Second-year Elijah Moore and Corey Davis led the team with five catches each, for a combined 147 yards. Tyler Conklin (3), Garrett Wilson (2), Michael Carter (2), and Braxton Berrios (1) all brought in other balls.
To nit-pick, Garrett Wilson catching only two passes is a troubling sign, as the rookie, who was drafted 10th over pick in 2022, seemed poised for a breakout season when catching passes from Joe Flacco. Now that Zach Wilson is back, two two Wilsons will need to develop that chemistry from scratch.
Overall, though, the team’s wide receivers played competently, with few dropped passes and some crucial catches down the stretch.
Offensive line: D+
The offensive line was lucky that Wilson remained as mobile as he did during the game, as they were struggling to block the Steelers’ pass rush all afternoon. Wilson was hit six times and sacked once, and had to scramble out of the pocket to avoid an even worse fate.
They have been dealing with injuries on the o-line — as Mekhi Becton, Duane Brown, George Fant and Max Mitchell are all currently on the injured reserve list.
Those problems showed on Sunday, and they’ll need to do something if they want their quarterback to remain upright, and to get the running game going.
The Jets secondary continued to look somewhat disorganized at times, and gave up 7.8 yards per pass to a pair of Steelers quarterbacks throughout the game (Kenny Pickett and Mitchell Trubisky, who was benched during the game).
Still, they managed to snag four interceptions, and hold the Steelers to below 200 yards in the contest. Two of those interceptions came on the final two Steelers drives of the game, and came at very clutch moments to allow the Jets to comeback and win.
The best news for the Jets was the rookie cornerback Sauce Gardner, the fourth overall pick in the 2022 Draft, played very well — seeing seven targets, while allowing two catches and a 39.6 passer rating.
Cleaning up some of the miscues will be essential going forward, but Sunday’s performance should be a big boost of hope for Gang Green.
Defensive front: A-
A highlight for the Jets this season, the defensive front showed out again on Sunday, bringing pressure against Trubisky and Pickett all game long.
They recorded three sacks and hit the opposing quarterbacks six times, while limiting the explosive Steelers running game to just 119 yards, on 3.8 yards per carry.
C.J. Mosley was the highlight of the game for the Jets, as he recorded 11 total tackles, and defended a pass while rushing the line.
If they can stay healthy, the defensive line and their squad of linebackers are perhaps a building block for the Jets defensive going forward.
Week 4 Team Grade: B
It wasn’t pretty, but the Jets got the job done.
Most notably, the team didn’t give up, and they clearly believe in themselves — a testament to the state-of-mind that second-year head coach Robert Saleh has instilled in their core of players.
With Wilson returning to action, the young skill position guys continuing their growth, and (hopefully) some of their injured players making their way back to the lineup, this game showed a Jets team that is more exciting and explosive than the lackluster squad that went just 4–13 last season.