There is nothing automatic about a last-minute 54-yard field goal attempt to try to pull out a W that had suddenly turned into a potentially embarrassing L.
Unless you've got the Z-man to handle the kick.
Not Zorro. Zuerlein.
"GZ, he never misses, so I wasn't surprised at all," said RB Breece Hall, whose two first downs on the Jets' final drive got Greg Zuerlein just close enough to fade that 54-yarder inside the left upright to take back the lead for good in the 30-28 triumph over the Commanders. "I was walking on the field getting ready to shake everybody's hand. I knew he was going to make it."
"It wasn't the cleanest hit," Zuerlein said during his brief chat with reporters. "but it was good enough and that's all that matters."
"There was almost like no chance he was going to miss that ball," HC Robert Saleh said. "He's been in that situation a lot in his career. We were good from 38, but I thought we did a good job getting him 5 extra yards."
The last 3 yards came on QB Trevor Siemian's scramble to the 36. But the two big plays before that were Hall's doing. Putting exclamation points on his game of 191 scrimmage yards and two rushing touchdowns, the second-year RB battled and converted a third-and-1 with a 5-yard run around left end, then grabbed a short Siemian pass and split two Washington defenders for a 14-yard reception (11 yards after the catch) to the 39.
"End-of-game stuff like that, it's always a moving line," Zuerlein said of where he ideally would have liked the last line of scrimmage to be. "Generally it's around the 42 so about a 60-yarder. Luckily, we got closer than that. The offense did a great job getting as many yards as possible and we made it happen."
And Zuerlein did his usual job of making his points almost automatic. Atop the list of achievements "Greg the Leg" has put put into or extended in the Jets record book, it's slightly amazing to note that his third FG of the game to beat the Commanders was also his 25th consecutive successful FG attempt this season.
Thus he now holds another set of Jets records. He broke the franchise record of 24 FGs overall, set by Jay Feely in the 2008 and '09 seasons, and his second FG, in the second quarter, surpassed the single-season record of 23 set by Nick Folk from the start of the 2013 season.
Some other notes of distinction for the man sometimes called "Legatron":
■ He entered the game tied (with now Titans K Folk) for second in the NFL with 96.4% in field goal accuracy, then improved it with his 3-for-3 day to move into second all alone at 96.8%,
■ Zuerlein's clutch kicks this season before Christmas Eve include the kick to send the opener vs. Buffalo into overtime, which the Jets won on Xavier Gipson's punt-return TD, and his two kicks vs. the Giants, the first to send it to OT, the second to win it.
■ His 54-yarder was his fifth 50-plus kick of the season, putting him one behind the team mark of six shared by Jason Myers in 2018 and Zuerlein last year. And Z's 11 kicks extends his franchise mark for most 50-plus FGs in back-to-back seasons.
■ His first two FGs vs. Washington of more most distances of 25 and 27 yards, extended his streak of FGs made of less than 50 yards to 38 in a row, the second longest active streak in the league behind only the 40 of the Chargers' Cameron Dicker.
■ And Zuerlein wasn't kidding about 60 yards. In less than two full seasons he has already set the Jets' distance records for longest field goal (60, at Minnesota last year) and longest home field goal (57, vs. Chicago last year).
"It's a good feeling," Zuerlein said about hitting his latest game-winner, finally offering up a small, satisfied smile. "Better than the alternative."