Defense, Zach Wilson pace Jets to unlikely overtime upset of Titans

Jets Titans
Oct 3, 2021; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets running back Michael Carter (32) celebrates with teammates after a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans during the NFL game at MetLife Stadium.
Kevin R. Wexler-USA TODAY Sports

Hold off on purchasing those paper bags, Jets fans. Your team just won a football game.

Randy Bullock missed a 49-yard field goal attempt with 19 seconds remaining in overtime to secure Gang Green’s first victory of the season (1-3) after Matt Amendola’s 22-yard kick put the Jets ahead in the extra period.

The anxiety of the Jets’ triumph was only exacerbated by questionable playcalling that asked rookie quarterback Zach Wilson roll out on a quarterback keeper on a third-down play with the ball at the 1-yard-line in overtime. Wilson wound up losing four yards to force the Jets to settle for the field goal.

Wilson had his best day yet as a pro, completing 21-of-34 passes for 297 yards with two touchdowns and an interception while his No. 1 receiver, Corey Davis, posted four catches, 111 yards, and a touchdown against his former team.

The duo hooked up for a 53-yard touchdown with nine minutes left in regulation to give the Jets a 24-17 lead, which they would unsuccessfully try to cling to.

Punting the ball away with 2:21 left in the game, the Jets’ defense that had been so solid for most of the day couldn’t finish the job in the fourth quarter. The Titans went 74 yards on 11 plays in 1:53 to tie the game with 16 seconds remaining when Ryan Tannehill hit Cameron Batson for a two-yard score and force overtime.

But this time, the Jets found a way to win rather than fumble it away, driving 71 yards on 13 plays to get into field goal range and set up the victory — something that seemed unlikely when the day began.

After going three-and-out to punt it away, the Jets embarrassingly allowed the Titans to convert a 3rd-&-21 near midfield to get into New York territory.

Tennessee would get to the Jets’ 17-yard-line but would ultimately stall and kick a field goal to open the scoring.

The Titans got right back down into Jets territory, but a 3rd-&-1 snap at the New York 11-yard-line cannoned off the helmet of Tannehill and behind the Tennessee quarterback, resulting in a 17-yard loss. It wasn’t far enough to ricochet out of Bullock’s range, though, as the Titans’ kicker knocked it home from 46 yards out to put the visitors up six.

Wilson’s interception problems cropped up early in the second quarter — though his eighth pick of the year that landed in the hands of Kristian Fulton was through no fault of his own. Davis fell down on his route, leaving the Titans’ defender to haul in the easy interception uncontested.

But the Jets defense continued to weather the storm, holding the Titans to another field goal despite the possession starting at the New York 32-yard-line.

Those defensive stops looked all the more important when the Jets’ offense finally found some life — featuring a 30-yard reception to Davis — as Wilson directed a 75-yard drive that ended with a Michael Carter two-yard touchdown rush to bring the hosts to within two with 4:49 left in the half.

It was the Jets’ first first-half touchdown of the season, their first time hitting paydirt since Week 1, and their first rushing score since Week 11 last season.

They had an opportunity to do even more damage after a Titans 12-yard punt gifted the Jets with possession inside Tennessee territory, but instead posted a three-and-out that featured an eight-yard sack of Wilson.

After forcing a pair of punts to start the second half, the Jets took their first lead of 2021 after kicking a field goal that was sparked by a 54-yard completion from Wilson to Keelan Cole. The rookie showed off his big arm while on the run rolling out to his right and delivering a pinpoint throw down the right sideline.

Falling behind to the lowly Jets seemingly woke the Titans up as they provided an immediate reply, going 75 yards on just six plays to re-take the lead. Derrick Henry’s one-yard score was answered with a successful two-point conversion to put Tennessee up seven two minutes into the fourth quarter.

Sparked by a pass interference call, the Jets tied it right back up when Wilson hit Jamison Crowder for a three-yard touchdown just 1:44 after Henry found the end zone.

Wilson and Crowder hooked up just two plays earlier to put the Jets on the doorstep. At the Titans’ 34-yard-line, Wilson fumbled a low snap before recovering it, scrambling, and hitting the slot receiver for a 29-yard gain.

The 22-year-old made another highlight-reel throw just two minutes later after the Jets’ defense came up with another stop, hitting Davis for a 53-yard score to put the Jets ahead with nine minutes to go.

Wilson not only showed his athleticism by making another perfect throw on the run, but he also showed his awareness — directing Davis to head toward the end zone after identifying that there was no safety shadowing the Jets’ No. 1 receiver.