After Jets future Hall of Fame RB Frank Gore notched another milestone -- becoming only the third running back in NFL history to eclipse 16,000 yards rushing -- on Sunday, Jets Head Coach Adam Gase said on Monday that Gore sustained a lung contusion during the victory over the Browns and will not play in the season finale at New England.
"He may try to play again, I'm not sure," Gase said, looking beyond the end of the 2020 NFL season. "As far as what he's done this year, he's helped keep the guys together. He's been great with the young players, they've seen him work and understand that no matter what the record is this is how you're supposed to come to work and play the game. I can't say enough of his leading by example."
With his 14 carriers and 49 yards against Cleveland Gore, the Jets' elder statesman, joined Emmitt Smith (18,355 yards on 4,409 carries) and Walter Payton (16,726 yards on 3,838 carries) in the dynamic threesome of running backs. Gore has exactly 16,000 yards on 3,735 carries. He has a team-leading 653 yards on 187 carries and 2 TDs with a long gain of only 17 yards.
QB Sam Darnold, too, had nothing but praise for the savvy, revered veteran.
"He's amazing," Darnold said. "Incredible work ethic day-in and day-out regardless of the circumstance. Going 0-13 for most of the weeks he was able to come in, put his head down and go to work. For other guys to see that, young guys including myself, you look at him and you want to embrace everything he shows. He's so consistent and has been his entire career.
"He's been awesome. He's not a rah-rah guy but when he has something to say people listen. He's a great leader and one of the best ones to ever do it. I'm super happy to have played with him and grateful to have played him this year."
Defense Rises Up
Hunting turnovers and hunting the quarterback. On Sunday at MetLife Stadium, it was the "Dee-fence" that propelled the Jets to their second straight "Dub."
"I think the guys are just playing a lot more free, not necessarily thinking and worrying about results," S Marcus Maye said on Monday. "It's just been a group effort of everyone coming together, just giving it our all despite the situation. We're all on the same page. It's been a great past two weeks."
The Jets (2-13) may be at the bottom of the AFC East standings, but when it comes to turnovers/giveaways the team has a plus-2 differential (tied with the 11-3 Bills), with 10 interceptions and 9 fumble recoveries. Tarell Basham and Javelin Guidry lead the team, each with 3 forced fumbles, followed by Maye and Quinnen Williams with 2 each. John Franklin-Myers has recovered 2 and six others each have 1 recovery.
When it comes to sacks, Williams (who is on IR with a concussion) leads the team with 7, followed by Basham and Franklin-Myers with 3 each. Nathan Shepherd has 2.5 and four other players have 2 each. On Sunday, Basham, Franklin-Myers, Frankie Luvu and Shepherd each had a sack of Baker Mayfield.
In addition to getting after the quarterback and limiting Mayfield to 28 of 53 passing for 285 yards, the Jets' defense limited Cleveland's vaunted rushing attack, which entered the game No. 3 in the league, to 45 yards on 18 carries, holding RB Nick Chubb to a season-low 28 yards.
With Williams and Harvey Langi missing, Franklin-Myers gave credit to LB Bryce Hager, who had been elevated from the practice squad, and the strong play of Folorunso Fatukasi, who returned to the lineup.
"I think we just keep coming to work," Franklin-Myers said. "Most teams may quit or give up, but that's not us. We push each other. That's the difference between us and other losing teams. We play for each other, that's the biggest thing."
With the game on the line, and the Jets clinging to the lead, the defense forced Cleveland into turnovers in its final two possessions -- both fumbles forced by Basham. The first led to a field goal and a 7-point lead. Then Basham popped the ball out of Mayfield's grasp on fourth-and-1 from the Jets 15 with 1:25 to play. By rule, since the ball was recovered and advanced by the Browns, the play was ruled dead where Mayfield lost the ball. The Jets took over and for the second week in a row QB Sam Darnold kneeled and the Jets ran out the clock.
"Over the last few years he's been our guy, our Energizer Bunny," Gase said of Basham. "He's always the one trying to juice everyone up, and he tries to play that way. He makes the plays we need to swing the game. Yesterday we had opportunities to take advantage of that. That last play, he was really smart. He is one of our smarter players. To see that play, that was a huge play for us, that won us the game."
Basham said: "We got so much knock-back on the inside Baker had nowhere to go, forcing him to slide out my way. Blessed, honestly, blessed to be able to make such a play as a team in such a critical moment in the game."
He added: "It proves that we don't quit, that we're still approaching every week to win. We had a great game plan. Our coaches put us in position to make plays and we showed up today to make plays. We played with energy, enthusiasm, and flew around, got to the ball.
"The guys are hungry and we didn't want to go into the offseason without winning. The guys continue to fight. It means a lot to us as players to come out and to play to win and to win a game, not just go home as a loser. We have children and the last thing we want is to go home as we want them to be winners and you mean we can't seem to win. This is big as players, as coaches, as men, as an organization.
"My daughter is my biggest fan and she's pretty excited about her dad winning these last two games. ... so."
See the Top Images from the Week 16 Victory Against Cleveland
In addition to the news about Gore, Gase said that CB Javelin Guidry continues to rehab his knee injury and could practice this week; OL Josh Andrews is dealing with a groin injury that could keep he out of practice; and TE Ryan Griffin is expected to be available on Sunday after spending time on the Reserve/COVID-19 list.