Zach Wilson has career night, Jets valiant effort spoiled on controversial call in 23-20 loss to Chiefs

Jets fall to Chiefs 23-20
New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) reaches across the goal line as he is tackled by Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Willie Gay (50) to score a two-point conversion during the third quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

EAST RUTHERFORD — There may not be such a thing as a moral victory in the NFL, but what the New York Jets did Sunday night was pretty damn close.

The Jets got a career game from Zach Wilson but a controversial holding call late in the game saved the Kansas City Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes by a 23-20 final.  

“You can always take positives out of any situation. no moral victories but I would’ve liked to have seen what would’ve happened on that final drive,” Jets head coach Robert Saleh said.

New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh motions from the sidelines during the third quarter of an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Kansas City came out of the gate strong, sprung by the excitement surrounding the pop stars in attendance no doubt. Mahomes and Kelce connected twice on the opening drive which resulted in an opening drive field goal to take the early 3-0 lead. 

Things shortly went from bad to worse for Gang Green when, after a quick three-and-out from the offense, Isiah Pacheco gashed the Jets for a 48-yard touchdown run. The play was highlighted by a missed tackle from John Franklin-Myers and several pancake blocks by the Chiefs offensive line. A 34-yard touchdown from Mahomes to Noah Gray extended the Chiefs lead to 17-0 before the first quarter even came to an end. 

But from there, the Jets would battle back in the second quarter. New York went on a 12-0 scoring run, highlighted by a safety caused by Bryce Huff and a one-yard touchdown throw from Zach Wilson to CJ Uzomah. 

All in all, it was the best Wilson had looked in his entire career to this point. 

The former second-overall pick shrugged off reports that he could be replaced as soon as next week and had a strong showing against the defending champs. 

Wilson finished the day 28-39 passing for 245 yards and two scores. 

“He’s been practicing outstanding. I’m really happy for him to show he belongs in this league. If he plays like this, we’re going to win a lot of football games,” Saleh said of his starting quarterback.

Arguably the best drive from the Jets quarterback came to open the second half. Wilson went five for five on throws with the last being a 10-yard touchdown dot to Allen Lazard. His two-point conversion run not only sent the home MetLife crowd into a frenzy, but it tied the contest against the heavily favored Chiefs. 

New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) celebrates with teammates after scoring a two-point conversion against the Kansas City Chiefs during the third quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

After both offenses stalled to end the third quarter though, Kansas City’s offense turned to the ground game and quick passing attack to regain the lead on a 26-yard field goal from Harrison Butker. 

A crucial Wilson fumble gave the ball right back to the Chiefs who promptly converted two third-and-longs thanks to questionable holding calls in the secondary. The last one, a holding call on Sauce Gardner, negated Mahomes’ third pick of the night to ice the game for Kansas City. 

“I have a lot of thoughts on it but I’m going to stay quiet,” Saleh said of the missed calls on the Jets Sunday night. 

The loss moves New York to 1-3 on the season with a road contest against the Denver Broncos next week. 

Game Notes

  • Much was made about who was watching the game from the stands, but there were plenty of important updates from current Jets who didn’t play. Al Woods was a healthy scratch as the team opted for a more aggressive pass rush.
  • Rodgers spoke to the Sunday Night Football telecast and stated that he expects to return at some point during the 2023 season. The update is substantial because it has only been three weeks since the quarterback had surgery on his Achilles. The injury usually takes about a full year to heal, but the four-time NFL MVP is expected to break that mark. 
  • Kansas City was able to gash New York on the ground throughout the night. The Chiefs ran for over 200 yards in the win. 
  • The 28 completions were a career-high for Zach Wilson. While he took personal responsibility for the loss, the team around him felt that he took an important step. “It shows his maturity, shows the growth that he’s had over the last year. He brushed it off and went out and balled out in the game. I’m proud of him,” Connor McGovern said.

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