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Jets have well-rounded win, but rookie Leonard Williams hurts knee

New York Jets defensive tackle Leonard Williams leaves

New York Jets defensive tackle Leonard Williams leaves the field with an injury while playing against the New York Giants in the first half of their NFL preseason game in East Rutherford, N.J. on Aug. 29, 2015. Photo Credit: Ray Stubblebine

The Jets might have won the dog-shaped trophy they so coveted. But they might have suffered a big loss in the process.

Jets rookie defensive end Leonard Williams was forced to leave Saturday night's 28-18 preseason win over the Giants with a knee injury.

Williams -- the sixth overall pick in this year's draft -- limped off the field in the second quarter and made his way to the locker room with a member of the team's medical staff.

It was initially announced that Williams was questionable to return to the game, but the rookie never made it back.

Surprisingly, the Jets didn't need the help of the 6-5, 302-pound defensive end to pick apart the rival Giants. Instead, all it took was a balanced attack by Todd Bowles' team, including an Antonio Cromartie pick-6 against Eli Manning, a leaping touchdown by backup running back Zac Stacy and a 54-yd punt-return for a touchdown by Walter Powell.

But it was running back Chris Ivory and receiver Eric Decker who got the Jets' offense rolling first. Ivory rushed for 35 yards on the Jets' second drive of the game, setting the stage for an 11-yard, third-down completion to Brandon Marshall, followed by a 25-yard TD pass to Decker from Ryan Fitzpatrick.

The Giants tied the sore in the second quarter on a 1-yard TD run by Rashad Jennings. But it didn't take long for the Jets to regain the lead. Fitzpatrick hit a wide-open Stacy, who then scampered 24 yards to the house and capped the scoring play with a head-first somersault into the end zone.

But Cromartie provided one of the top highlights when he easily picked off Manning (12-for-16, 90 yards, two sacks) and ran 59 yards for the TD.

The last Jet to return an interception for a touchdown vs. the Giants in the preseason was safety Darrol Ray (off of quarterback Scott Brunner) in 1982.

The Jets' starters played just the first half, but it was all they needed to jump out to a double-digit lead on the Giants.

Fitzpatrick finished 9-for-14 for 127 yard and two TDs.

And despite some ill-advised penalties (including two on linebacker Demario Davis on the Jennings scoring drive), the Jets' starting defense held its own and gave Manning and the Giants offense fits.

Tom Coughlin's backups made things interesting in the fourth quarter, though. Backup quarterback Ryan Nassib threw a 6-yard TD pass to Jerome Cunningham and connected with Julian Talley on the two-point conversion to pull the Giants to within 28-18 with 7:31 remaining.

But that's as close as they would get.

The Snoopy trophy now belongs to the Jets. But questions about Williams' health remain.

The selection of the former USC stud was considered a potential coup for first-year general manager Mike Maccagnan. But his role on defense became all the more critical after third-year defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson was suspended the first four games of the season for multiple failed drug tests. Richardson also is awaiting additional punishment from the league after he was arrested in Missouri on July 14.


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