Who'd've thunk it? And can they do it again?
Those are two questions that come to mind when taking one last look back at the Jets' 34-31 rocking of the Cincinnati Bengals and a quick look ahead before their next game comes tonight against the Indianapolis Colts, kickoff scheduled for about 8:20 p.m. ET.
On the surface, it would seem that Mike White, making his second start for Zach Wilson at QB, and the Jets are primed for another fine performance. They have put the Bengals game behind them but are no doubt still cruising after coming back to beat the 5-2 Bengals. They're playing another Midwest opponent that has some of the same characteristics of last Sunday's foe:
■ Two teams with solid upper-middle-ranked offenses, led by veteran QBs (young vet Joe Burrow of the Bengals, more mature vet Carson Wentz with the Colts) and top running backs (Joe Mixon for Cincy, the NFL's fourth-leading rusher, and Indy's Jonathan Taylor, the AFC Offensive Player of October sitting at No. 2 among NFL rushers and No. 3 in scrimmage yardage) in the league and both averaging 25-plus points/game.
■ Their defenses are both upper-middle as well, with the Colts posing an imposing picture for the Jets to try to move against with a strong-up-the-middle unit led by LBs Darius Leonard and Bobby Okereke and DL DeForest Buckner, whom Jets head coach Robert Saleh is quite familiar with, having coached him for three seasons with the 49ers. Indianapolis is tied with Buffalo for the league lead with 18 takeaways, and their plus-8 turnover margin matches up nicely with the Jets' minus-10.
But besides the turnovers, the Colts have some advantages that the Bengals didn't: (1) They're at home in Lucas Oil Stadium, and (2) they're ready for the Jets, having come off a difficult 34-31 home overtime loss to the Tennessee Titans.
The Jets may have sneaked up on the Stripes. But the Horseshoes definitely hear them coming.
But how will the Colts handle the "folk hero" that is White, who calmly went about his business picking apart the Bengals defense for 405 passing yards and three touchdown passes, two coming to pull the game out in the final 4½ minutes and watched with equanimity as his jersey was sent on to Canton for display this week in the Pro Football Hall of Fame?
"Mike's got a big smile on his face," Saleh described White. "He's very deliberate in the way he goes about his business. He's calm, he's cool, he's collected, and I think he exudes confidence. So it's an exciting time for him. And it's not often you get an opportunity like Mike is getting, and continue to take advantage of it."
See the Jets Arriving for the Night Game Against the Colts
White won't have Corey Davis back — the Jets' No. 1 WR is inactive for a second straight game — but he has the same cast of dynamic characters who fashioned the Jets' 511-yard attack on Sunday, led by their own growing performer in rookie RB Michael Carter, who put together a 172-yard scrimmage game. If Carter, who has two 100-YFS games back-to-back, can do it again, he'd be the first Jets rookie to peel off three 100s in a row since FB Clark Gaines, all the way back in 1976.
The Jets defense is also pumped up after a game that wasn't always pretty but was pretty impressive in posting an early goal-line stand, getting a late interception from DL Shaq Lawson to snap its pick-less streak at eight full games, and keeping a lid on the explosive duo of Mixon and rookie WR Ja'Marr Chase.
Some strong run stoppage from LB C.J. Mosley and company, followed by some strong pass-rushing from the likes of Quinnen Williams going up against a sore-toed but multi-Pro Bowl LG in Quenton Nelson, plus Lawson, John Franklin-Myers and Sheldon Rankins will be just the ticket to extend Wentz's difficult games to two in a row after he threw two late INTs vs. the Titans.
So can the Jets do it again? Mosley wouldn't answer that question but he certainly had some thoughts on the Jets as a defense and a team looking forward to playing the Colts in primetime and the rest of the season.
"Great teams find a way to win two games in a row and keep it going, so that's really our next challenge, to come back with a win," Mosley said. "It doesn't have to be pretty, it doesn't have to be a blowout, as long as it's a W. For this win this past weekend, I feel that it's bringing and it brought confidence to our team. I want everybody to understand that it's all about our mindset. It doesn't matter who the team is, what star players they have. When we step on the football field, when we come to work every day, we have to have the mindset that we're capable of winning every game that we play."
Here is the Jets' seven-player inactive list for tonight's game.
- QB Zach Wilson
- QB Joe Flacco
- RB Tevin Coleman
- S Jarrod Wilson
- WR Corey Davis
- DL Jonathan Marshall
- OL Laurent Duvernay-Tardif
And this is the Colts' six-man inactive list:
- WR T.Y. Hilton
- RB Marlon Mack
- CB Bopete Keyes
- DE Ben Banogu
- T Julien Davenport
- OL Will Fries