One month ago, WR David Nelson was out of the NFL, waiting for his chance to prove that he could still compete at the highest level.
Meanwhile, the Jets were left searching to fill the gaps of a then-depleted receiving corps after a 38-13 loss at Tennessee in which Santonio Holmes suffered a hamstring injury and Stephen Hill a concussion.
Nelson needed a team; the Jets needed a wide receiver. A perfect match.
Four games later, it appears that first-year GM John Idzik made a shrewd move. After catching just three passes for 20 yards in his first two games for the Green & White as he learned OC Marty Mornhinweg's playbook, Nelson has led the team our past two games with 19 targets, 12 receptions, and 160 yards.
His 6'5", 215-pound frame certainly helps, and he's proven to have soft hands with zero drops in four games, but Nelson's most impressive ability might be a non-physical trait: his attitude.
"I was out on the street four weeks ago," Nelson said in the Paul Brown Stadium visiting team locker room following the Jets' 49-9 loss Sunday, "and every play is a chance for me just to be grateful that I'm out here playing and to continue to prove that I belong here, because I could be one play away."
One play away from being back on the street, that is.
He realizes that it could take just one drop, one miscue, or one injury to jeopardize his ability to play on Sundays. So, down 40 points in the fourth quarter, the team was not going to be able to pull out a "W," but Nelson refused to pack it in and call it a day.
"I thought he was playing hard," head coach Rex Ryan said of Nelson during today's late-afternoon news conference. "He was blocking like crazy. … He was competing his butt off out there and I was impressed with him."
"It's just that never-give-up," Nelson said, "no matter what's going on, no matter what the circumstances are. Even though the scoreboard may be out of your favor, you can still control what you can control and that's each and every single play you line up. I'm going to give it all I have from whistle to whistle, from start to finish of the game."
And he wasn't the only one.
Despite the 40-point deficit, QB Matt Simms laid it on the line as he attempted to move the chains on a fourth-and-11 scramble and leap.
"It kind of tells you about the kid," Rex said of Simms. "That's the way he plays. He's an impressive young man."
RB Alex Green finished the game strong as well, rushing for 20 yards on three carries and adding a 7-yard reception.
"It's always tough being down," Green said this afternoon, "but one thing that I've learned growing up facing adversity is that you never stop fighting no matter how bad it is, no matter how down you are. Whether it's the first quarter or the fourth quarter, any chance that I have with the ball in my hands, my job is to make something happen, so I try to do that as best as I can."
Sunday's game hopefully will go down as our most lopsided loss this season, but as the final minutes ticked away, Nelson, Simms, Green and others continued to show heart, hustle and fight.
"Sometimes things like this happen," Nelson said of the blowout defeat, "but if you really want to find out what this team is about, if you really want to find out what these individuals are about, turn on the last seven minutes of the game and see who's going to continue to battle, who's going to continue to fight for this team." Nelson will. Simms will. Green will. And the rest of the Jets will, too.