Three in a Row
While beating the Giants (2-8) and the Redskins (1-9) was nice, how would the Jets respond to a step up in weight class against the 6-4 Raiders? On a rainy Sunday at MetLife Stadium, the Jets, not Oakland, looked like the playoff contender as they thoroughly outclassed the Raiders, 34-3. With the 31-point victory, the Jets captured their third consecutive victory and ended the Raiders' three-game winning streak.
With a 13-3 halftime advantage, the Jets came out with bad intentions to open the third quarter. Adam Gase had the Raiders think screen and first-year wideout Braxton Berrios, who entered Week 12 with 3 career receptions for 30 yards, popped free over the middle of the field. The result was a career-long 69-yard reception for the 5-9-, 190-pounder, setting the Jets up with a first-and-goal from the 1. On the next play, Gase had Darnold sprint right before TE Ryan Griffin, who signed a contract extension Saturday, leak out to the back side. Darnold's easiest throw of the day and Griffin's team-leading 5th TD put the Jets up, 20-3.
"What a play call. The design was great and it was tough for me to get in the end zone in between Beach (Kelvin Beachum) and Jonotthan (Harrison)," Griffin said with a laugh. "So it was fun."
Then playing complementary football, the defense stuffed the Raiders on a 4th-and-1 attempt as safety Marcus Maye and cornerback Bless Austin combined to hold FB Alec Ingold short of the 40. With the ball back, Gase went to some trickery with Bilal Powell pitching to Jamison Crowder before the slot wideout tossed back to Sam Darnold. Then the smoking-hot passer, who went 20 of 29 for 315 yards with 2 TDs, fired down the home sideline to Robby Anderson for 30. Three plays later, Darnold hit Anderson for 1-yard score and it was 27-3.
Yet the defense was not to be undone, answering with a score of its own. Big-play Brian Poole, the understated nickel corner, recorded the first touchdown of his career with a 15-yard one-handed INT return for a score. During their three-game streak, the Jets have scored 34 points in each of the triumphs, marking the first time the club has scored 30-plus points in three straight since the Brett Favre days in 2008.
"It just shows the kind of character you have in that locker room, what kind of guys you have — especially the amount of movement they've had in and out with guys going down whether it be IR or just out for multiple weeks — and the next-man mentality these guys have kind of developed," Gase said of his club's recent rebound. "I really think the way these guys have practice and prepared, it just hasn't changed. It just keeps getting better."
The Jets looked like they had set a franchise record, scoring a touchdown on their opening possession for a fifth consecutive game. Darnold connected with Demaryius Thomas for an apparent 8-yard TD, but points were taken off the board when replay officials charged TE Daniel Brown with offensive pass interference. The Jets instead had to settle for a 24-yard field goal from Sam Ficken, halting the TD streak but giving the home club a tying field goal.
Darnold again found an early groove, leading the Green & White to 13 points on their first three drives. The second-year signal-caller, who connected on 12 of 17 for 168 yards in the opening half, scored on a 4-yard keeper in the second stanza to cap a 96-yard scoring march. The home team had 224 yards in the first half and was balanced, rushing 16 times for 58 yards.
"For us, it's just about making sure everyone is on the same page," Darnold said. "If we do that, I think we're a hard offense to stop. Obviously our defense is playing really, really well these past few weeks — really the whole season. I feel like if we just keep this up, we're going to look up and it's going to be a good year. But at the same time, we just have to take it one week at a time."
Sunday was the first time the Jets had three scoring drives to open a game since Game 9 of the 2016 campaign. MIA (FG-TD-FG).
See Best Images from the Matchup Against the Raiders
Carr in Park
For all the talk Gregg Williams had done with the Jets' rush defense, it's time people take note of what the entire unit is doing. In addition to Poole's INT and score, the Green & White, starting Arthur Maulet and rookie Bless Austin at corner, held Derek Carr to 15 of 27 passing for 127 yards. It was Carr's lowest total since Week 3 of the 2017 season. Safety Jamal Adams, who was credited with 7 tackles, continued to climb towards the NFL's career single-season mark for a defensive back (Arian Wilson 8, 2005) split a sack with linebacker Neville Hewitt and now has 6.5.
"We got our butts kicked and there is no other way around that," Carr said. "They got after us from start to finish and hopefully it's an eye opener... We got our face kicked in a little bit."
The Raiders, who entered the game ranked No. 3 in third-down efficiency at 47.6%, were held to just 5 of 13 (33%). The Jets No. 1 ranked rush defense took away the visitors run early and balance went out the window for the Silver & Black.
"That was a great finish," Adams said of his team's 21-0 second-half shutout. "It was not only the defense finishing, but the offense did as well. We played complementary football and fed off of each other."