The Jets (1-1) fell to the Cowboys (2-0), 30-10, in Arlington, TX, in Week 2 on Sunday. Here are three takeaways from the game.
There were a handful of plays that could've changed the Jets' fortune leading into the second half.
After Garrett Wilson's 68-yard touchdown reception, Cowboys QB Dak Prescott fired a ball to WR CeeDee Lamb on the right sideline that was nearly intercepted by CB Sauce Gardner. It would have likely been returned for a touchdown had he come down with the ball, to give the Jets a 14-10 lead with five minutes left in the half. Instead, the ball fell to the turf and the Cowboys took an 18-7 lead nine plays later after a pair of third-down penalties – John Franklin-Myers was flagged for roughing the passer and Brandin Echols, making his season debut, was penalized for pass interference in the end zone.
"Sauce had a chance, we had a couple of chances at an interception," head coach Robert Saleh said. "One of them would have been a pick-6. Probably would have changed the entire outlook of the entire game. Again, give them credit. They made the plays, we didn't. Sauce got the ball out on one, they recovered it. There were a lot of opportunities in that first half that to kind of change the outlook and just kind of rattle their cages a little bit with big plays and we did not make a single play, especially in the second half."
Before the half, Zach Wilson orchestrated an 11-play, 59-yard field-goal drive that could've ended in a touchdown to cut the deficit to 18-14 instead of 18-10. On the final play before the FG try, Wilson dropped back and fired a ball intended for G. Wilson, but Cowboys DE Demarcus Lawrence's hand hit the ball just as the signal-caller released it. The second-year wideout shook free from All-Pro CB Trevon Diggs and would've likely scored to close the half with the Jets set to receive the second-half kickoff.
"I was so frustrated," Z. Wilson said. "We called a great play. The situation was the ball had to get out of bounds so we can at least get a field goal. Garrett was my safe throw away and as I got to the top of my drop, he was open and I was going to rip it to him at the front of the pylon. [Lawrence] got a piece of the ball. It's unfortunate because in games like that, those are the ones you need to connect on."
See the best game action photos during the Week 2 matchup against the Cowboys.
Run and Red Zone Defense
The Jets had an uncharacteristic performance on defense. The No. 4 defense in 2022 gave up 30 points after it averaged 18.6 per game last season. Lamb had 11 catches for 143 yards, but the defense played well against the run and in the red zone.
The Green & White defense held Dallas to 3.0 yards per carry on 44 attempts, including 2.9 yards per carry to Pro Bowl RB Tony Pollard, who averaged 5.2 yards per carry last season. Over the last 10 seasons, nine teams have held opponents to 3.0 yards per carry on 40+ rushes. Sunday's game was the only one without a rushing touchdown allowed.
Dallas went 2 of 6 in the red zone in Week 2 as the Jets have allowed 3 touchdowns on eight possessions in the red zone. They rank fourth in the NFL at 37.5% and their 4.6 yards per play allowed this season ranks second.
Lack of Run Game
After rushing for 172 yards in Week 1, the fourth-most in the NFL, the Jets only mustered 64 yards on the ground, 36 of which came from Z. Wilson. Breece Hall, Dalvin Cook and Michael Carter combined for 10 carries and 24 yards. Down by 21-10 after Dallas' first possession of the second half, the Green & White only ran the ball three times in the final two quarters as the offense tried to claw its way back.
"I think they were just filling the gaps," RG Alijah Vera-Tucker said. "They were playing well early on and we just couldn't get it going. It was just one of those things where it's one block away from getting a 5-five or 10-yard run. It just wasn't there. Unfortunately, we were forced to pass the ball the rest of the game."