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Jets Defense Wasn't Perfect vs. Titans but Overall It Was 'Fantastic'

C.J. Mosley & Quincy Williams, LB Stars of OT Win, Gave Credit to Teammates, Who All Played 'Complementary Football'


What can you say about a Jets defense that gave up 430 yards and 30 first downs in front of a packed home stadium?

That yielded 177 rushing yards on 37 carries to the visitors, most of it gained by their "running back as big as an offensive lineman," Derrick Henry?

That allowed a 75-yard drive to a go-ahead touchdown, then a 74-yard TD drive to tie the score with 16 seconds left in regulation, then a 44-yard drive to a field goal attempt that threatened to end this long afternoon of football with what would've ultimately been a very frustrating tie game?

"It was a big game, a big victory," said LB C.J. Mosley, one of the stars and leaders of the Jets' opportunistic D in their 27-24 overtime victory over the Titans.

"We were fantastic," said head coach Robert Saleh.

Those things could be said because they were true, and because a lot of what the Jets defense did was not captured in the above statistical shortfalls that might've doomed a defense and offense with lesser resolve.

Such as sacks. The Jets took Tennessee QB Ryan Tannehill to the MetLife turf seven times — their most in a game since they took down Buffalo's Tyrod Taylor for seven sacks on TNF in 2017. Four of Sunday's sacks were by the Green & White front four, two by Quinnen Williams after his 1.5 sacks last week at Denver. Five of the sacks came on third downs, ending visitors' drives with punts.

"Credit to this D-line — they've been doing it all year, getting after the quarterback," Saleh said. "But it's rush and coverage. I don't think enough credit goes to these young kids in the back end. Two new safeties stepping up and playing a heck of a game back there with communication, Ashtyn [Davis] getting his first run, [Sharrod] Neasman getting his first run. We lose [Brandin] Echols and they didn't flinch.

"And that was the big thing we talked about at halftime. We can't flinch, especially against a team of Tennessee's caliber."

Mosley, who had 13 tackles to give him three consecutive 10-tackle games for the first time in his career, explained how his unit remained unflinching despite Henry's steamroller 157-yard running day and some seemingly backbreaking receptions by second-year RB Jeremy McNichols.

"One of the things we talked about was no matter how many quarters it takes, how many minutes we've got to play, we have to play complementary football," Mosley said. "It didn't look great all the time, but when the offense needed it, they stepped up, when the defense needed it, they stepped up, when the special teams needed it, they stepped up."

One who loomed large in green and white was a player whom Jacksonville placed on the final-cut scrapheap a month ago. Quincy Williams, Quinnen's big bro, had some strong play behind the line against both the Patriots and Broncos, but that turned out to be only a prelude for his all-over-the-field showing Sunday. Williams' line: 12 tackles, one sack, one other tackle for a 6-yard loss, and even a pass defense.

"I got a lot of wonderful guys around me," said Quincy, who dedicated this game to his mother, who died of breast cancer in 2010, as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. "The only way I got to run around the field was because my defensive line kept me clean. And on the line is my brother, which makes it even more special."

Also in the front seven, ends John Franklin-Myers (sack, three QB hits) and Bryce Huff (1.5 sacks, three QBHs) were at times dynamic. And then there was the back end that Saleh referenced.

Javelin Guidry, who came in when Echols suffered a concussion late in the first quarter, racked up 10 tackles. CB Bryce Hall had a half-sack, which he shared with Huff when the two of them "Bryced up" Tannehill to end the first half. And for a defense that managed only four pass defenses — their lowest total after three games over the past quarter of a century — Hall led the way with three PDs of his own for the seven-PD pass defense.

In the final analysis, the Jets defense was very good at times, imperfect at others. But that was OK. Same for the offense. And as Mosley said, and Williams reiterated, it's all about complementary ball, which, if the Jets have started to master it, will help them through their next stretch of contests, beginning Sunday at London against Atlanta.

"Really, we're just out here doing our job. Our job is to win the game," Williams said. "If it's got to be 3-0, we can win the game 3-0. We're really not worrying about what the offense is doing. We're just playing our game."

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