In the end, the Jets’ defense made the key stop.
In the beginning and throughout most of the game, they didn’t.
There was an ominous sign before the game when linebacker Darron Lee was inactive due to being late to practice Saturday, and defensive tackle Muhammed Wilkerson sat out most of the first quarter because he was late to a meeting, both reasons were according to published reports. Lee will be active next week at Denver.
Would a few scratches be noticeable in the Jets’ sterling defense? Whatever it was, something wasn’t right all afternoon.
For the first time arguably all season, the Jets’ offense saved the defense. They held the ball for nearly an incredible 43 minutes and amassed 30 first downs and 488 yards of total offense in their 38-31 victory.
On the other hand, Kansas City recorded 31 points in just over 17 minutes and rolled up 474 yards of total offense.
Statistics can lie about a game, but this one didn’t.
From the start, Kansas City looked energized when they threw the ball down the field on five plays and took a 7-0 lead just over two-and-a-half minutes in the first of two Alex Smith passes touchdown to Travis Kelce.
When they got the ball back, Smith found Kelce again wide open on a 36-yarder.
Five plays from scrimmage and 14 points place on the board in 2:44. Jets look sluggish. Ball game over, long afternoon ahead, right?
But like they have all season, the Jets don’t quit. They battled back to register two sacks on Smith, but they still allowed the big play.
Smith found Tyrek Hill for touchdown passes of 79 and 40, both in which Hill was more than a few steps ahead of cornerbacks Rashad Robinson and Raymond Claiborne respectively.
In the end, the Smith-to-Hill combination got the Chiefs down to the Jets’ 19. Wilkerson and Leonard Williams chased Smith out of the pocket on two plays and Jamal Adams dropped an interception.
“They got some big plays on us due to lack of attention and discipline, but they rebounded well,” said head coach Todd Bowles.
It also was a much-needed relief for both units and the Jets were able to finish in the fourth quarter. With their fifth win (5-7), they slotted themselves back into the AFC playoff race.
“This feels good,” said Claiborne about the win. “We had some trouble at the beginning and they have some very good receivers. But we all held together as a team.”
It was another test of character for the defensive unit, not only navigating through a mostly frustrating outing, but also further helping galvanizing the team.
“We don’t quit,” said linebacker Demario Davis. “Maybe it wasn’t our day, but the offense gave us a spark. We gained a lot of confidence from them, and we rallied at the end.”