The Jets couldn't have scripted this one any better. Declare a "White Out," then bring in the Super Bowl III team for halftime honors for their achievement 50 seasons ago.
And then a half century after beating the Colts in the Orange Bowl, beat them again in the Meadowlands. Putting together another solid team performance, the Jets pulled away from Andrew Luck and the outmanned but feisty team from Indianapolis for a 42-34 victory to build a two-game winning streak and even their record for the year at 3-3.
The team performance came in parts from Sam Darnold's offense — the rookie QB was 24-of-30 passing for 280 yards, with TD passes to Terrelle Pryor and Chris Herndon while Jermaine Kearse came in with a career-high-tying nine receptions — defense — Morris Claiborne scored on an interception on the second play of the game and the D had four takeaways in all — and special teams — K Jason Myers drove through a team-record seven field goals on seven tries, four in the second half.
Those kicks kept the Jets ahead of the relentless Luck, who threw his fourth touchdown pass with 1:51 to play to get the Colts within eight. But Jets TE Neal Sterling prevented them from getting any closer by recovering Rigoberto Sanchez's line-drive onside kickoff.
Here are eight mostly chronological takeaways from the Jets' second 40-point game this season, something they haven't done since 2008:
1. Mo Off to the Races
It didn't take long for the Jets defense to feed off the stadium atmosphere. On the second play of the game, Andrew Luck threw an outlet pass that bounced off RB Marlon Mack's hands and also S Jamal Adams' hands — and into the breadbasket of Claiborne, who had a clear 17-yard path to the end zone. It was the first interception-return TD of Claiborne's seven-year career and his second TD. And at 12 seconds off the game clock, it was the quickest home score and quickest defensive score in Jets franchise history.
2. Trading Drives
Luck was unfazed as he hit three of four chunk plays, the last a 34-yarder to wide-open WR Marcus Johnson to tie things at 7 just 2:44 in. But Darnold and the Jets offense also didn't waste time, moving down the field 12 plays and 69 yards into the Colts red zone. The last three completions were to tight ends — the first an excellent deep sideline catch by Herndon, the second two by Sterling in his first action in four games. Myers converted No. 1 from 30 yards out and the Jets climbed back on top, 10-7, with 4:33 to play in Quarter One.
3. Rash of Turnovers
Darnold threw his only pick, trying to reach Robby Anderson flying down the left side and instead finding S Malik Hooker ranging over from center field. Hooker returned 27 yards to the Jets 35 and Luck marched the Colts to first-and-goal at the 1 before the D stiffened on three plays and Adam Vinatieri tied it at 10-all with a 21-yard FG. On the Jets' next offensive play, Darnold found WR Quincy Enunwa for his first catch in two games, but "Q" then had the ball punched out of his grasp for a fumble and a Colts recovery — not to mention an ankle injury that knocked him from the game — all leading to another Vinatieri FG, from 31 yards out, for a 13-10 Colts lead.
The Jets D came through again as RB Robert Turbin coughed up the ball when whacked on third down by Adams, with LB Jordan Jenkins pouncing on the fumble at the visitors' 43. The Green & White offense covered all 43 yards in eight plays with Darnold lasering a TD pass to Terrelle Pryor in the front of the end zone. That returned the lead to the Jets at 17-13 and gave them 14 points off of their first two takeaways.
5. First-Half Finish
Then came Takeaway No. 3, LB Avery Williamson's pickoff of a ball deflected by Claiborne away from falling WR Ryan Grant near midfield and return to the Colts 22. This time Darnold's offense moved backward and Myers had to boom one through from 48 yards, which he did to open the lead to 20-13 with 1:25 to play in the half. But after a 3-and-out stop of the Colts, the Jets got another shot with 42 seconds left. Darnold & Co. moved it from their 28 to the Colts 14, from where Darnold spiked it with 4 seconds to play. On came Myers for No. 3 and a 23-13 halftime margin. Then on came Joe Namath to whip up the fans in the stands for the second half.
6. Meatier Lead
Next came an expert "10-point sandwich" around halftime. The Jets got the second-half kickoff and moved 72 yards in five plays to another Darnold-to-TE success, a 32-yard catch-and-run by a wide-open Herndon for his first pro TD reception and a 30-13 lead coming out of the break.
7. Luck Skill
As with the first-minute exchange in the game, Luck barely batted an eye in engineering an answering TD drive or two. The first, he capped with an 18-yard strike to TE Eric Ebron to get it back to a 10-point Jets lead at 30-20 with 8:44 to play in the third. Then after Myers' fourth FG, Luck led the guests to first-and-goal at the 1 again, and this time cashed in with a third-down 2-yard score to TE Erik Swoope to bring it back to a one-score game, 33-27 with 14:52 to play.
8. Six Is Good, Seven Is Better
In the fourth quarter, the Jets offense turned into the Jason Myers Show. An Isaiah Crowell 21-yard run got Myers in position for a 37-yarder with 3:53 to play in the third quarter. One drive later, early in the fourth, Myers had a 45-yarder. One drive after that he feathered through a 37-yarder. And one drive after that, he nailed another 45-yarder. All the kicks were important in keeping the Green & White just far enough ahead of Luck.
Only two other kickers in franchise history, Bobby Howfield vs. New Orleans in 1972 and Jim Turner—in the stadium for the SBIII celebration—vs. Buffalo in '68, had six FGs in a game, and neither was 6-for-6. And Myers joins elite company as one of only six kickers in NFL history to go 7-for-7 or better.