The Jets were almost knocked out in the first round by the Chiefs, but they got off the ropes and fought for 60 minutes before ultimately dropping a 23-20 decision on Sunday night at MetLife Stadium.
After falling behind the defending Super Bowl champion by 17-0 in the first quarter, the Jets staged a furious rally, but KC QB Patrick Mahomes, who was largely contained through the air, put the game on ice with 9-yard scramble in the final seconds. With the 3-point defeat to the 3-1 Chiefs, the Jets fell to 1-3 ahead of next week's game at Denver.
"I love the guys," HC Robert Saleh said. "I've expressed what I feel about the guys in the locker room, what we feel about who we have and the character of the locker room. There's no question that when you're backed into a corner, you swing. That's all you can do. And that's a locker room who can swing."
The Jets defense held Mahomes to 18 completions and intercepted him twice while Zach Wilson hit 28-of-39 passes for 245 yards and 2 TDs. But Wilson's fumble with 7:45 remaining was the final time the offense was on the field as Mahomes, benefitting from a questionable third-down holding call on Sauce Gardner, did some damage with his feet, including a 25-yard run on a third-and-23.
The Jets needed a fast start, but quickly fell behind in a one-sided first quarter. In the second stanza, the Jets turned up the heat on Mahomes & Co. Bryce Huff started the Jets' 12-0 run with a safety, cleanly beating RT Jawaan Taylor and forcing a face mask penalty in the end zone that resulted in points.
See the best game action photos during Sunday Night Football against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Then the offense came to life as Wilson hit Allen Lazard for 39 yards on a scoring drive and the Jets cut the gap to 17-5 when Greg Zeurlein hit on a 31-yard field-goal attempt. Mahomes made a careless mistake on the next possession, throwing into triple coverage and Ashtyn Davis intercepted the ball in plus-territory. The Jets moved 41 yards in 7 plays, culminating an impressive march on a deft 1-yard toss from Wilson to TE C.J. Uzomah.
The Chiefs got a field goal before intermission, but the Jets shrugged off the slow start and made it a dogfight.
Wilson, who was 18 of 26 in the first half for 141 yards and the TD, came out hot in the third quarter. On a 75-yard scoring drive, Wilson hit all 5 of his attempts for 75 yards including a 10-yard strike to Lazard for a TD. Down 2 points at 20-18, Robert Saleh elected to go for the 2-point conversion and Wilson got in with his feet to tie the game.
"He was letting it rip and I thought he did a really nice job," Saleh said. He added: "I was just really happy for him to go out there and show that he does belong, that he can play in this league. If he plays that way we're gonna win a lot of football games."
But the Chiefs were the only club to score in the fourth quarter, on Harrison Bunker's 26-yard field goal with 10:54 remaining, which proved to be the game-winner. New Jersey native Isiah Pacheco, who attended Vineland South High School and Rutgers University, totaled 158 yards (115 rushing/43 receiving) for the visitors.
Garrett Wilson was targeted 14 times Sunday night and finished with 9 receptions for 60 yards. He became the fastest Jets player to reach 100 catches to start his career, reaching triple digits in his 21st game … RB Breece Hall averaged 9.3 yards on 6 rush attempts. … LB Quincy Williams led the defense with 13 tackles (10 solos), 2 TFL and 1 PD.