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Jets-Eagles 3 Takeaways | Hail Mary Finish Puts a Bow on 2021 Preseason

With Jets Rookie QB Zach Wilson on the Sideline, Josh Johnson and James Morgan Played One Half Each

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The Jets ended their preseason in dramatic fashion as they tied with the Eagles, 31-31, Friday night at MetLife Stadium.

Down 31-23 with six seconds remaining in regulation, QB James Morgan, who commanded the offense in the second half, rolled to his right before unleashing a Hail Mary that undrafted rookie TE Kenny Yeboah came down with for a 49-yard score. Josh Adams converted the two-point attempt on a draw. The play was reviewed but the call was upheld. 

"Jamo was getting another opportunity," head coach Robert Saleh said after the game, referring to Morgan. "The way he was operating and moving, he showed a lot of grit throwing 60 yards into the end zone. He got better throughout camp. We thought they [the team's four quarterbacks] all got better in camp."

Morgan finished 13 of 23 for 158 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT. Yeboah was on the receiving end of both of Morgan's touchdown passes and finished with 4 receptions for 100 yards.

On Wednesday, Jets head coach Robert Saleh was leaning on playing many of his starters in his team's preseason finale against the Eagles. On Friday night, Saleh leaned the other way as rookie QB Zach Wilson, WR Corey Davis, ILB C.J. Mosley and S Marcus Maye were part of a large contingent of Jets regulars who sat out the contest.

Josh Johnson Cashes In
Veteran signal-caller Josh Johnson made like Wilson on the Jets' first offensive possession. With the rookie QB on the sideline and Mike White (ribs) having not participated in practice during the week, Johnson (35) got the start and was greeted with a 7-0 deficit following RB Boston Scott's 49-yard scoring catch-and-run. Johnson had an immediate answer, hitting on all four of his passes on a march that culminated with a 2-yard TD to WR Lawrence Cager on fourth down. 

"I try to focus on being prepared for the moment and today was the moment," Johnson said. "I found out I was going to play and to me, I don't focus on the circumstances because we are presented with different circumstances. My thing is being focused on making the best choices with those circumstances and I feel like we were able to do that as an offense. I would have liked to have finished that last drive but we were able to put some points up and then James and the next group came on and finished it." 

In one half of play, Johnson was 7 of 8 for 73 yards and led the Green & White to 10 points.

"Giving JJ a chance to go compete, he hasn't had a lot of reps, obviously," Saleh said. "But we felt like it was a great opportunity for him to go show it. It doesn't look like he's in his mid 30s the way he's running around, slinging the ball. I thought he was very productive. Obviously a veteran, knew exactly where to go with the ball. He was decisive with it."

See Best Images from the Final Preseason Game of 2021 at MetLife Stadium

Defensive Reserves Struggle Early
The Jets yielded two TDs in the opening quarter as Joe Flacco (6-7-97-1TD), the Jets' backup to Sam Darnold last season, led the Birds to 137 total yards. Saleh had most of his first-stringers on the bench minus a trio of players who could potentially start in DT Folorunso Fatukasi, DE Bryce Huff and nickel Michael Carter II plus a rookie linebacker penciled in to start in Jamien Sherwood. The Auburn product couldn't get Jalen Reagor down to the ground on a short catch that turned into an 19-yard gain and then couldn't close the gap on Scott before the Eagles back kept S J.T. Hassell inside enough to get space up the boundary. Then on Philly's second possession, the Jets were flagged for unnecessary roughness when Fatukasi and CB Bryce Hall combined for a body slam of RB Kenneth Gainwell.

"The first one he got unlucky," Saleh said of Sherwood's tackle attempt on Reagor. "That's why you don't let go. Every time he hits the field, he's going to learn something and it'll help when he has C.J. [Mosley] flanking him and to be able to talk to him and all that stuff. Then obviously with Marcus [Maye] flanking him on the other side just from a communication standpoint. I thought it was so important for him and [Hamsah Nasirildeen] to get out there and execute the best they could."

Fatukasi and Hassell each racked up sacks of Flacco in the first half, but immediately before intermission Flacco connected to J.J. Arcega-Whiteside for a 42-yard score with seconds on the game clock. The Eagles receiver caught the ball over CB Isaiah Dunn and then ran through an Elijah Campbell tackle attempt. Campbell and rookie CB Jason Pinnock prevented further damage in the fourth, forcing a touchback after ripping the ball out of Travis Fulgham's grasp as the Eagles WR reached for the end zone.

Long List of DNPs
Among the Jets who did not play Friday: QBs Zach Wilson and Mike White; WRs Corey DavisJamison CrowderElijah Moore and Denzel Mims; RBs Tevin Coleman and RB La'Mical Perine; TEs Tyler Kroft and Ryan Griffin; LT Mekhi Becton, C Connor McGovern, G Greg Van Roten; DTs Quinnen Williams and Sheldon Rankins, DL John Franklin-Myers; LB C.J. Mosley; CB Justin Hardee; Ss Marcus Maye and Lamarcus Joyner. Rookie CB Brandin Echols sustained a shoulder injury during the game and did not return.

Wilson led the Jets to scores on four of his six preseason drives, hitting on 75% of his throws (15 of 20) for 191 yards with 2 TDs. He also was turnover-free in games against the Giants and the Packers.

Speaking about Wilson after the game, Saleh said: "He always wants to play. He lobbied to play. They all lobbied to play."

And with Becton in the concussion protocol, the Jets started Morgan Moses at RT and George Fant at LT. Moses and Fant have been battling throughout training camp for the right tackle job and when asked, Saleh said he'll name the starter soon.

"We'll talk about it again tonight or tomorrow when we watch tape and all that stuff," Saleh said. "I think it cleared itself up a little bit. I'll wait to tell you guys until we get a definitive answer from everybody in the discussion."

Wideout Jeff Smith was one of the Jets' leading rushers, taking three end-arounds for 44 yards. Another wide receiver who showcased his versatility was Braxton Berrios who averaged 36 yards on two kick returns. And Braden Mann finished an impressive summer, nailing a 58-yard punt. …

Ty Johnson got going in the third stanza, running 4 times for 24 yards on a scoring drive including a 3-yard TD. That closed the gap to 24-17. Johnson finished with 13 carries for 53 yards. …

A flash flood hit MetLife Stadium a couple of hours before kickoff and the weather, which included lightning in the area, forced kickoff back from 7:30 to 8:00 p.m. …

The Jets finished the preseason with a 2-0-1 record. They have to get down to 53 players on Tuesday and they'll also have 16 practice squad spots to fill. The club is No. 2 in the waiver order, so they'll have an early look at hundreds of players about to spring free.

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