It was fitting Marcus Maye returned an interception nearly for a touchdown on the game’s last play.
Even though Sam Darnold and Isiah Crowell were in the spotlight, the Jets’ defense answered their own challenge in a 34-16 victory over the Broncos.
They provided an admirable showing of what they are capable of doing on any given Sunday, even when they weren’t hitting on all cylinders.
Earlier in the week, Jamal Adams called out himself and his teammates to bring some further intensity and energy to their unit, playing off the fans in the first of three consecutive home games at Met Life.
The Jets’ defense gave up nearly 400 yards passing to Case Keenum, and he began the game hitting six of his first nine passes and felt little pressure from the Jets’ defensive front.
Still, the Jets didn’t break and kept Keenum out of the end zone until late in the fourth quarter, after he flipped a touchdown pass on his team’s opening drive.
Keenum also began to lose his touch after halftime, mainly due to Leonard Williams and the rest of the Jets’ front, who began to take control of the line and ignited an assault as he would record two of their four sacks on the afternoon.
Williams had five stops and several run stuffs during the afternoon and showed the dominant play expected of him. He combined with Jordan Jenkins on a pivotal sack in the third quarter after Denver intercepted a deflected pass in Jets’ territory with the game still in the balance.
Corner Mo Claiborne has key pass deflections and nearly snared two interceptions. Fellow corner Buster Skrine left the game late in the opening quarter with a concussion, and replacements Daryl Roberts and rookie Parry Nickerson had trouble adjusting the rest of the afternoon.
Overall, the unit found the intensity and energy, and they didn’t need a completely dominating effort due to the fact that the offense generated more than 500 yards.
The effort could be especially pleasing to head coach Todd Bowles, who called the defense in place of coordinator Kacy Rodgers, who is battling an illness.
The Jets spent most of the second half in a nickel with either five linebackers or five corners or safeties. Williams and Henry Anderson, who had another strong game, played the majority in the two-linemen alignment.
“Our defensive lineman played well and pressure the quarterback,” said Bowles. “They probably played extra hard for Kacy. We kept everything in front until the end. (Williams) has been getting pressure and today worked out for him. He just has to keep grinding. It was tough at times (making the calls), but all of the coaches helped me out a great deal.”
Adams kept everything in perspective.
“We played good enough,” he said. “We weren’t perfect and we made a lot of mistakes. We have to clean up our mistakes and work on the little things.
“But we did do a phenomenal job in keeping him (Keenum) in the pocket. We understood what they were going to throw and we communicated. As long as we communicate and play fundamentally sound, we can be a good defense.”
That is what we all need to continue to see.