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Friday, December 2, 2022

Zach Wilson and the New York Jets Falter Against an Old Rival

An hour before Sunday’s opener at MetLife Stadium, pyrotechnics exploded. With the Jets on a four-game winning streak and preparing to face a foe they had not beaten in seven years, the team decided to tease their supporters.

The Jets employed fireworks and bullhorns to remind a fan base that hasn’t had much to rejoice about recently how to leave their tailgates and get to their seats in time for kickoff.

By late afternoon, though, same supporters were booing play calls (a draw on a long third down in the third quarter) and leaving the stadium in droves after Zach Wilson, the Jets’ second-year quarterback, threw his third perplexing interception of the day in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter.

Through Week 7, the Jets had accomplished feats that the organisation had not accomplished in years: winning a September game and an AFC East matchup. On Sunday, though, the Jets reverted to an all-too-familiar result: a 22-17 setback to the New England Patriots, their 13th straight loss to their division rival.

These Patriots are not the same ones that dominated the AFC East for two decades. New England entered this game with a losing record, quarterback uncertainty, and a squad decimated by injury. Despite these factors, a win would have been significant for the Jets; a defeat hurt much more.

The Jets began to fall apart towards the conclusion of the first half. Up until that time, Wilson had performed admirably, finding a rhythm with the No. 10 overall choice in this year’s N.F.L. draught, rookie receiver Garrett Wilson, and scoring the game’s first score on an 8-yard ball to tight end Tyler Conklin.

As it has been all season, the defence was outstanding, intercepting New England quarterback Mac Jones in the second quarter after disturbing his throw. Two minutes before halftime, the Jets stopped the Patriots on a fourth-and-1 at the Jets’ 21-yard line to preserve a 10-3 lead.

Carter looked back after crossing the goal line and saw on the Jumbotron the yellow flag that would invalidate the play. John Franklin-Myers was penalised for roughing the passer after he shoved Jones to the ground after he threw the ball.

The Patriots ended the first half with a field goal and opened the second with a touchdown, a scoring sandwich that their opponents have learned to fear over the years. On their following drive, the Jets missed a 45-yard field goal attempt.

Jets supporters have learned to anticipate a series of unfortunate occurrences, which brought the team back to reality. Wilson’s second interception occurred at the end of the third quarter on a pass he claimed he was attempting to throw away, but safety Devin McCourty intercepted it barely in bounds. After Wilson’s third turnover, another interception by McCourty on another errant throw, he sat on the bench and yelled a four-letter obscenity, expressing the fury experienced by everyone in the crowd.

Breece Hall, the outstanding rookie running back who suffered a season-ending knee injury in last week’s victory against the Denver Broncos, was severely missed by the Jets’ offence. Without him, the Jets rushed for just 51 yards against the Patriots, increasing the pressure on quarterback Russell Wilson, who admitted to forcing some passes, including his last interception.

Prior to this game, the Jets’ 5-2 record was their best start to a season since 2010, when a tough defence propelled a running-oriented squad. It is a similar composition to this year’s Jets, who are learning the same thing their predecessors did: NFL clubs can only go as far as their quarterbacks can lead them.

Wilson did toss a second touchdown pass within the final minutes of the game. At that time, vacant grey seats outnumbered those occupied by fans. The Patriots (4-4) recovered an onside kick and had possession until the end of regulation.

Dan O'Brien
I am a journalist for The National Era with an emphasis in sports.
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