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Jets' Gritty Defense Withstood the Test of Faith Late in Regulation vs. Giants

Sauce Gardner: 'I Don't Even Know How It Happened' but He Always Knew the Game Wasn't 'Over-Over'


The head coach, the quarterback and the offensive performers all had words of high praise for their defense, which bailed the Jets out for much of regulation until the offense and special teams could seal the deal on the Green & White's 13-10 OT win over the Giants.

"We just feel like we just kill them sometimes when we're not moving the ball and going 3-and-out," RB Breece Hall said of the unit on the other side of the ball. "I thank God we have them."

HC Robert Saleh knew exactly how difficult it could have been for his defenders, being human and not robotic, to give up the cause just this one time. "It's easy to cash it in at the of that game, thinking the game is over," he said.

At least one saucy Green & White defender admitted that thought maybe did almost cross his mind when the Giants got the ball back at the Jets 26 with 1:26 left in the fourth quarter.

"I don't even know how it happened," CB Sauce Gardner told reporters in the Jets' locker room about rescuing the 13-10 win from a seeming 10-7 loss. "I messed up my hand, it got stepped on, and so I took the tape off my hand. I thought it was over. The next thing I know, I had to get it taped again. That's on me for not having the faith that it wasn't over."

But as Gardner said, CBs coach Tony Oden was keeping him focused for just the eventualities that unfolded and turned things around. "So I didn't think it was over-over," he said. "But I didn't know what we could do to turn this around."

C.J. Mosley, being the captain and spiritual leader of the unit, admitted things weren't always pretty in between the raindrops but said his unit always kept the faith.

"I was just waiting on the offense, that's it," Mosley said of his thoughts when the Giants got the ball back with the game appearing to be in their grip. :Anytime we get out on the field when it's a close game like that, as a defense, our only goal is either get a turnover or get the ball back to the offense. So once we got off the field, we were just praying for the offense. That's it."

Those prayers of Hall, Mosley and others were a testament to the D's resilience and its Saleh "grit" that rose up again despite that sinking feeling that the rain, the injuries and the Giants' own very accomplished defense were going to turn this game into a wet, painful, depressing Jets loss.

After all, the Jets, for one thing, set a franchise record. The Giants, who lost backup QB Tyrod Taylor to injury in the second quarter and barely asked third QB Tommy DeVito to throw the ball over the final 40 minutes of play, were held to minus-9 net passing yards and 7 gross yards (not including sacks) for the game.

The minus-9 yards is the Jets' new standard. The previous mark was minus-4 yards when the Jets prevailed at New England in Game 2 of 1982. And the NFL's last minus-9-or-more game was in 2000. The Giants' 7 gross yards were second-fewest in a game vs. the Jets, since another weather game , 1974, held the Bills to zero gross yards in a loss at Buffalo.

Other distinctions for the Jets' defense:

■ The Giants' longest completions were only a pair of 4-yard passes, to TE Darren Waller and RB Matt Breida. This is the first game in franchise history that the opponent didn't complete at least one 10-yard pass.

■ The Jets defense allowed 2.77 yards/play, tied for the 24th-best single-game average in Jets/Titans annals. And it was the lowest average allowed by the Jets since Arizona in 2012 and in a road game since Tampa Bay in 2009.

■ With no passing offense, the Giants turned to Saquon Barkley (36 carries, 128 yards) and their 203-yard running game. But even that figure figures in Green & White lore. The only other time since 1985 that the Jets allowed 203-plus rush yards and still won the game was the 2016 Bilal Powel "Turf Angel" OT win at San Francisco.

"Let's be honest. The game's not over till zero-zero-zero is on the clock," LB Quincy Williams said. "So in this game was not about being a superhero but just doing your job. That was the biggest thing. That's what it took today."

And as Gardner said, even as the Giants drove to Graham Gano's late 35-yard field goal, the Jets may have had their doubts but they always knew it wasn't "over-over." And after Gano's miss gave the Jets 24 seconds to try to send this to overtime, Sauce said:

"We were able to go back out there in overtime and do what we do."

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