The Jets lost QB Aaron Rodgers to injury early Monday night and then showed amazing resolve in a 22-16 OT win over the Buffalo Bills. Trailing 13-3 at the half, the Jets staged a stunning second-half rally without their star QB, who was making his first regular season start with the Green & White. After K Tyler Bass tied the game for the Bills in the final seconds of regulation as the ball kissed the left post and bounced through the uprights, rookie WR Xavier Gipson returned a punt 65 yards for the game-winning score in the extra session.
Head coach Robert Saleh told reporters after the game the team fears Rodgers sustained an Achilles tear. Zach Wilson finished the game for the Jets and will take over the offensive reins heading into Week 2's matchup at Dallas.
"I thought he was awesome," Saleh said of Wilson's performance in Week 1 in which he threw for 140 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception. "He had a couple big third-down throws, clutch throws to extend drives and score points. I thought he commanded the huddle, line of scrimmage, he scrambled for a big one. He threw the interception, still bounced back. It didn't snowball into anything big. We still have a lot of faith in him. I think we've proven that by keeping him here and continuing to invest in him. Excited for him and his opportunity."
The Jets defense repeatedly got after Bills QB Josh Allen, forcing the star into four turnovers as S Jordan Whitehead led the way with his first career 3-interception game. Garrett Wilson had an amazing 3-yard TD grab from Zach Wilson in the fourth quarter and then Greg Zeurlein's third field goal of the night — a 33-yarder — gave New York's AFC representative a 16-13 lead they held until Bass' FG at the end of regulation.
RB Breece Hall, who tore his ACL Week 7 last season, was fabulous in his return to game action. His 83-yard run in the second quarter set up the Jets' first points of the season, a 26-yard Zeurlein field goal. He added a 20-yard reception on the offense's second scoring drive that ended with Zeurlein's 43-yard field goal that cut the deficit to 13-6. He rushed for 127 yards on just 10 carries.
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The Jets got the start they wanted, forcing a punt on the Bills' first series. Then Hall exploded for 26 yards on the Jets' first play from scrimmage. But two plays later, Rodgers was sacked by Buffalo edge rusher Leonard Floyd and spun around for a 10-yard loss. The four-time NFL MVP attempted to get back on his feet but crumpled to the ground. Rodgers hobbled to the blue medical tent before exiting on a cart.
"Personally, I don't hurt for me, I don't hurt for our locker room, I hurt for Aaron and how much he's invested in all of this," Saleh said. "I'm still going to say a prayer, we're still going to hold out hope, but my heart is with Aaron right now and nowhere else."
The Jets went on a 13-point run in the second half as the defense shut down the door and forced a punt early in OT. Linebacker Quincy Williams (10) and CB D.J. Reed (11) combined for 21 tackles and the Jets were credited with 5 sacks. Former Bills DL Quinton Jefferson led the way with 2 QB takedowns.
On a special night, the Jets won it with a special play in overtime as Gipson's dramatics ended a wild affair.
"I'm going to speak for our entire locker room and say we knew he was going to get one today," Saleh said. "We just had a feeling. That kid is electric with the ball in his hands. If I'm a team, I'm not kicking to him, but let him keep proving it. I think none of us in the locker room are surprised that he took one."