The young New York Jets were unable to pick up a second consecutive victory Thursday night, falling to 2-6 with a 45-30 loss to the Colts (4-5) in Indianapolis. Mike White's promising second NFL start was cut short because of a right forearm injury and the Colts rolled up 532 yards while storming out to a 42-10 lead. Rookie wideout Elijah Moore had the first 2 TD catches of his career — one from both White and Josh Johnson as Johnson, who entered the game with 8 career TDs, threw a career-high three scoring tosses in defeat.
Fairy Tale Start Takes a Turn
For the second time in 11 days, the Green & White lost a quarterback to injury. White, off to a hot start against the Colts after a historic effort against the Bengals, injured his right forearm on a 19-yard scoring pass to Moore that tied the score at 7 in the first quarter. White completed 7 of 11 for 95 yards including a rope to Moore for 26 yards on the play preceding the TD. Jamison Crowder drew some attention inside and Moore blew by veteran CB Xavier Rhodes, but White's follow through hit oncoming Colts DT DeForest Buckner. He immediately got medical attention on the sideline and was replaced by Johnson.
"We don't know exactly when it occurred," White told reporters after the game. "I know I felt it on the touchdown throw to Elijah. I felt it kind of lock up on me and going to the sideline, my two middle fingers kind of went numb. I couldn't aggressively grip the ball enough to be out there and help my team. Throughout the course of the game, we kept trying different things -- compression sleeve, heat, all that good stuff. We tried to throw at halftime and it progressively got better throughout the game. It feels better now, but during the course of the game I couldn't get enough effectiveness with my grip and power to be able to help the team."
White started the season as the Jets' backup but came on relief of Zach Wilson when the latter when down with a PCL sprain against the Patriots. In parts of two games and one full contest, White hit on 64 of 88 (72.7%) of his passes for 702 yards with 5 TDs and 4 INTs.
With Wilson missing his second consecutive game and White joining him on the sideline, Johnson finished 27 of 41 for 317 yards with 3 TDs and 1 INT in relief. Joe Flacco, acquired by Jets GM Joe Douglas on Oct. 25, was a game day inactive against both the Bengals and the Colts.
"I thought he did an awesome job coming in," HC Robert Saleh said of Johnson's performance. "He ran the offense exactly how it's supposed to be run -- hitting the open receivers and moving the chains. You can say [the Colts] pulled off, but I promise you they didn't pull their foot off the gas. They kept all their starters in all the way to the very last whistle. They were playing their normal stuff, their normal coverages. Our offense was doing a really nice job. They were blitzing, they were playing man, they were going after it. I promise you a D-coordinator doesn't want to give up all those yards. I thought our offense was fantastic. We just have to be able to match their intensity from the defensive side of the ball."
Perfect Start for Horseshoes
The Jets didn't have answers defensively on the Colts' first four drives as the home club got touchdown runs from Nyheim Hines (34 yards) and Jonathan Taylor (21 yards) plus a 1-yard shovel pass from Carson Wentz to TE Jack Doyle, and a Wentz 14-yarder to WR Michael Pittman with 11 seconds remaining in the half. Indianapolis totaled 280 yards of offense through two quarters and converted 4 of 5 (80%) on third down as it got it done on the ground (134 yards) and through the air (146). Second-year safety Ashtyn Davis (10 tackles) forced a pair of early fumbles, but the Colts recovered them both. Cornerback Bryce Hall recorded his eighth PD of the season in the first quarter, but the ball appeared catchable and the Jets couldn't come down with the takeaway.
"As far as the defense, we're going to get looked at," Saleh said. "We have the whole weekend to evaluate and figure this out. The run game is what's gotten us two of these three weeks. I felt really good about the way we defended the run last week, but when you can't defend the run, good luck."
Conversely, star LB Darius Leonard's 13th career forced fumble on RB Ty Johnson was recovered by Indy S George Odum. Nine plays later, Doyle was in the end zone and the Colts cashed in on their NFL-leading 19th takeaway.
"They just executed better than we did," C.J. Mosley said. "They got the blocks that they needed, they got the gaps that they needed, their running backs ran hard and they kept running hard. Unfortunately, those types of things happen. We pride ourselves in stopping the run game. We knew going into this game, if we didn't stop the run game, it was going to be a night like we had. Tough pill to swallow, especially for the defense, but we have to find a way to bounce back, look at the film because we know the things that hurt us, we're going to start seeing more with our future opponents."
Moore finished with career highs of 7 catches and 84 receiving yards and two of his grabs went for TDs. After scoring on an 18-yard run against the Patriots in Week 7, Moore had a touchdown reception in the first and third quarters. Following a play-action rollout to the right, Johnson found a wide open Moore from 19 yards out as the visitors attempted to mount a comeback.
Despite the injuries at QB, the Jets amassed 486 yards of offense and converted 57% of their third downs. Johnson, who also had TDs to TE Ryan Griffin and RB Ty Johnson, threw for 317 yards and 11 different Jets caught passes.
"We have a lot of work to do, but that's how it's supposed to be," Moore said. "That's the way the offense is supposed to be run, it's supposed to be putting up a lot of numbers, a lot of yards, a lot of accolades for a lot of different players."
See Best Images from the Game at Lucas Oil Stadium
The Jets inactives were QB Zach Wilson, QB Joe Flacco, RB Tevin Coleman, S Jarrod Wilson, WR Corey Davis, DT Jonathan Marshall and OL Laurent Duvernay-Tardif. … During pregame warm-ups, Wilson worked on his dropbacks and throwing the ball. He could return to practice next week. … Running back Michael Carter (49 rush yards, 37 receiving yards) narrowly missed becoming the first Jets rookie since Clark Gaines in 1976 to record three consecutive games with 100 yards from scrimmage. …DL John Franklin-Myers and TE Tyler Kroft (2-38) received medical attention in the first half and Kroft was ruled out with a chest injury. Franklin-Myers returned and had 2 tackles … S Marcus Maye (6 tackles) exited in the beginning of the third quarter with an Achilles injury that Saleh said "does not look good" and Sharrod Neasman took his place in the lineup.. … For the second consecutive week, the Jets defense had a goal-line stand. The Colts looked poised to make it 5 of 5 on drives for touchdowns, but the Jets had an answer midway through the third quarter. RB Jonathan Taylor was taken down for no gain on second-and-goal from the 5 and then DE Shaq Lawson made a diving tackle to hold Carson Wentz to a 3-yard gain. Then on fourth down, C.J Mosley met Taylor in the hole and got some help from DT Folorunso Fatukasi and DL Franklin-Myers as the corralled the dynamic runner at the 1. … WR Keelan Cole had a nice game for the Green & White, totaling 66 yards on a season-high 5 catches.