The Jets (6-3) are growing up in front of our eyes, and perhaps the biggest growth spurt to date came in Sunday's 20-17 victory over the Buffalo Bills (6-2) at MetLife Stadium. The Green & White has time to digest the upset (the Bills, in first place in the AFC East, were favored by 11.5 points) with a week off before a trip to Foxborough to face the Patriots for the second time this season. Second-year QB Zach Wilson, who is 5-1 as a starter, led an impressive late fourth-quarter drive that set up Greg Zuerlein's game-winning field goal.
No. 1 -- Jordan Whitehead Interception
It was only the third play from scrimmage.
The Bills were at the Jets' 13-yard line after Josh Allen hit Stefon Diggs with a 42-yard pass on the first play from scrimmage. After an incomplete pass, Allen underthrew TE Dawson Knox and Whitehead was there to snag his second INT of the season, and (at the time) the Jets' 10th of the season.
"I just didn't see the guy that was right down at the end," Allen said. "Dawson was kind of latched on with the D-end, I got my eyes back, I kind of looked, the guy [Whitehead] was right behind the defensive end, didn't really see him there, that's why I floated it."
No. 2 -- Fourth-and-1 at Buffalo 32
TE C.J. Uzomah's biggest reception among his 3 in the game came on the Jets' final drive of the second quarter. Facing fourth-and-1 at the Buffalo 32 and trailing by 14-3, head coach Robert Saleh didn't hesitate leaving his offense on the field.
Zach Wilson took the snap from Connor McGovern, faked a handoff to James Robinson (who went left) and rolled to his right. He sent a soft pass that Uzomah grabbed and rumbled for 5 yards and the first down. Four plays later, Michael Carter burst into the end zone from 5 yards out as the Jets closed to 14-10 at the end of the first half.
No. 3 -- For Sauce Gardner 'That's Your Touchdown'The Jets opened the second half by driving deep into Buffalo territory before Von Miller got a strip sack of Zach Wilson. Then two plays later, the Jets top draft pick, CB Sauce Gardner stepped in front of a Josh Allen pass intended for Gabe Davis at the Bills' 35 and returned it to the 19. After Wilson threw an incomplete pass and scrambled for 5 yards to the 7-yard line, RB James Robinson caught a short pass and burst into the end zone for his first TD in green & white. The score put the Jets in front, 17-14, their first lead of the game.
For Gardner, it was the second interception of his NFL career and the team's 11th in 9 games this season. Last season, the Jets had 7 INTs in 17 games.
"I told Sauce, 'Let's change the game.' " fellow CB D.J. Reed said. "He got that interception, I told him, 'That's your touchdown.' We ended up scoring and I was like, 'That's your touchdown!' When he did that, that tuned me up. ... I wanted to make a play."
No. 4 -- Jermaine Johnson's Huge Sack
The Jets recorded 5 sacks of Josh Allen, none more important than the one notched by the speedy rookie DE Jermaine Johnson, who had missed three games with an ankle injury.
Early in the fourth quarter, with the score tied, 17-17, the Bills moved from their 27-yard line to midfield. On first down, Allen was flushed out of the pocket but could not elude the Johnson. It was the second full sack (he now has 2.5) for the rookie DE from Florida State. The 4-yard loss didn't seem significant at the time, but Buffalo was forced to punt three plays later when two passes intended for Stefon Diggs were incomplete. Sam Martin's punt was downed at the 4-yard, which is where the Jets started their spectacular game-winning drive.
"It feels like a high-school team, the camaraderie we've got," Johnson said after the game. "We're just close. We hang out outside the building, and we have fun when we're in the building. It's not just business to us, we have a real-life connection here, and we show it."
No. 5 -- Denzel Mims' Catch in 'Crunch Time'
Third-year wide receiver Denzel Mims was inactive the first six games of the season, but saw his most action on Sunday -- taking 50 snaps (83%) -- no play of greater impact than his only reception of the game on the Jets' final offensive series.
Facing third-and-5 at the Buffalo 18, QB Zach Wilson hit Mims with a laser-strike on a slant route for a first down at the 8-yard line with 2:08 to play. A TD would have been great, but four plays later Greg Zuerlein converted a field-goal attempt from 28 yards. The Wilson-to-Mims collaboration was the only completed pass of the 13-play, 86-yard drive that burned 6:10 off the clock.
The drive featured eight straight running plays, with Michael Carter getting 3 carries for 36 yards and James Robinson running 5 times for 33. The rushing attack, which amassed 174 yards in the game, was particularly sharp on that final drive, never facing a third down as the Jets marched down the field.
Speaking about the pass, Wilson said: "That one with Mims though, thinking I was getting man coverage there, which we ended up getting. They were starting to play with Garrett [Wilson] a little bit, trying to send the other safety over there. When it comes down to crunch time, who's your big-body guy that's going to get separation and come down with the play? Great separation by him and then pulling it in, huge play by him to show up in crunch time."