The defensive starters saw two drives of action for the Jets in their 31-27 victory over the Giants in preseason finale on Sunday. After the starters forced a three-and-out and an interception, head coach Robert Saleh decided he had seen enough.
"On the flipside [from the offense], I wanted to, and the intent was to get the defense a little bit more work," Saleh said. "But it was so dominant the first two series I said enough was enough."
For the first time this preseason, the Jets played all their available defensive starters and limited the Giants to just eight 8 total yards and 1 first down.
Lined up in the nickel on the opening snap, Carl Lawson and John Franklin-Myers started at defensive end; Quinnen Williams and Solomon Thomas at the defensive tackle; Lamarcus Joyner and Jordan Whitehead at the safety; and C.J. Mosley and Quincy Williams at linebacker. Sauce Gardner and Brandin Echols started at cornerback,and Michael Carter II lined up in the nickel. D.J. Reed (knee) and Bryce Hall (ankle) were out with injuries.
The Giants' opening possession lasted just 1:17. After Joyner and Echols stopped a run after 2 yards and Giants QB Tyrod Taylor tossed an incompletion caused by pressure from the D-Line, Quinnen Williams and Carter II converged on Taylor for a sack and a 10-yard loss.
Williams violently bull rushed his way through the left guard and Carter quickly turned the corner set by the right tackle to get into the backfield.
In the subsequent Jets defensive series, the Giants ran just five plays ending with a Carter II interception.
See the best images from the preseason finale against the New York Giants.
Mosley and Whitehead stuffed a run up the middle for a yard before Quinnen Williams wrapped up Giants running back Matt Breida for a 2-yard loss. Taylor scrambled for 13 yards and a first down, but two plays later, after being flushed out of the pocket by Franklin-Myers and Quinnen Williams, Taylor flipped a pass down the left sideline where Carter was lurking in coverage to make a leaping grab.
"I really thought they played fast and violent," Saleh said. "The back end was sticky. I was really pleased with how the defense played especially in that first half."
The Jets' starting defense was done after eight plays. Carter finished with half a sack, an interception and a pass breakup.
Rookie defensive lineman Micheal Clemons and linebacker Kwon Alexander, expected to make regular defensive contributions come the regular season, also made notable plays later in the first half.
After pressure by rookie Jermaine Johnson forced Taylor out of the pocket, Clemons chased and cleanly leveled Taylor as he threw. At 6-5, 263, the Jets' fourth-round selection in April showed off his impressive ability to pursue the ball and finish plays.
"[Clemons] is just exactly what we saw in college," Saleh said. "That's what we were getting. He has lived up to exactly what we have expected. His mindset, his attitude, his effort, just everything about it was awesome. So, I'm really happy with where he is at. I have got a lot of respect for Tyrod, and I think he's going to be O.K. But regardless, just his mindset, the way he plays, he is absolutely relentless."
Alexander produced a highlight reel hit in the second quarter. On an outside run by Giants running back Antonio Williams, Alexander hammered him with his shoulder, prying the ball loose.
The Giants recovered the ball but CBS analyst Anthony Becht could not help but be impressed by the hit.
"New York, meet Kwon Alexander," he said. "Bam! Look at that! Look at that pop right on the football. That is an unbelievable play right there. Antonio Williams didn't even know what hit him."