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Jets' QB Mike White: 'Moral Victories Don't Count in the NFL'

Signal Caller Has Another 300-Yard Game, but Green & White Was 1 of 6 in the Red Zone


Quarterback Mike White, making his second start of the 2022 season, completed 31-of-57 passes for 369 yards, his second-straight game with 300-plus yards passing. But the Jets weren't able to complete another fourth-quarter comeback and fell, 27-22, to the Vikings in Minnesota.

Eight White completions went to rookie WR Garrett Wilson for 162 yards. But among all the statistics in the game, the one that stands out in was the Jets' inability to score from inside the Vikings' 20-yard line on all but 1 out of 6 attempts.

"We just weren't good enough in the red zone today," head coach Robert Saleh said after the game.

He added: "The whole team, I'm proud to be this team's coach, I'm proud of every single person in that locker room. They fought their tails off. This team doesn't quit, but there are no moral victories or anything like that. When we play like that we know we're going to win more often than not."

No quit, to say the least. The Vikings (10-2) built a 20-6 lead after the first half. The Jets offense converted only 2-of-8 (25%) third-down attempts. White completed 14-of-26 passes for 121 yards. He was sacked once and had a deflected pass intercepted on a third-and-2 play at their own 33-yard line on the game's first series.

"We went into the game trying to play efficient football and stay ahead of the chains, keeping it third-and-manageable," White said. "We got away from that with some penalties and mishaps. They did a good job sitting inside of our in-breaking routes in the first half. That's what happened on the pick. They did a good job driving on the slant. I tried to hit Corey [Davis] on the back hip but it popped up and was picked [by Harrison Smith].

Things changed for White and the Jets in the second half, though White did say after the game that he felt the Jets were able to hit some out-breaking passes before the end of the first 30 minutes, which set the stage for the rally in the second half.

The Jets chipped away at the lead with three Greg Zuerlein field goals, closing a 20-6 gap to 20-15. His final field goal came at the start of the fourth quarter when New York's drive stalled at the 8. That drive featured a 60-yard connection to the Minnesota 11 between White and Wilson.

After breaking a tackle, Wilson headed down the sideline and would have scored had he not stepped out of bounds by inches. When that drive petered out, Zuerlein made another field goal, cutting the Vikings' lead to 5 points, 20-15. The purple guys came right back as QB Kirk Cousins hit WR Justin Jefferson (who was limited to 7 catches for 45 yards) with a 10-yard TD pass with 8:40 left in the game and a 27-15 lead.

But there is no quit in this Jets team.

White drove the Jets 75 yards in 5 plays, aided by a pass interference call on Wilson that put the ball on the Vikes' 3. Three plays later, White squeezed over the goal line on a play that was initially ruled short of the goal line, but was overturned on video review.

"The guys helped push me over," White said. "I didn't know if it was going to be overturned because I wasn't sure they [the officials] were able to see the ball."

Down by 5 points, 27-22, Minnesota again went three-and-out.

White drove the Jets from their own 15 to the Vikings' 1-yard line with 1:46 to play, but Braxton Berrios could not get a handle on White's fourth-down pass.

"Actually credit to Braxton [for getting open]," White said. "It's not the route that the play called for. He was supposed to break in then back out. He saw the opening, it's just how he plays football. He just sees things differently. And we couldn't connect. He just saw a linebacker playing so heavy outside, he saw the space. I have to find a way to put the ball a tad more in front of him and allow him to make the catch instead of a tough catch."

Still, the Jets refused to roll over. They assiduously used their three timeouts, forcing a punt after only 13 seconds. With 1:19 to play, White took the Jets from the Vikings' 43 to 19 with 16 seconds left. But his fourth-down pass intended for Davis over the middle in the end zone was intercepted.

"They took Garrett away on the boundary, the safety Harrison Smith was waiting on the deep over to Elijah [Moore] and the safety just drove on Corey," he said. "I thought at the time he was our best option. I felt the rush get on me and I didn't want to end up with the ball in my hands. I just wanted to give our guy an opportunity and see what happened."

He added: "By no means was this a moral victory. Moral victories don't count in the NFL. I'm proud of the way the guys stayed together. We stared adversity in the face and responded, but we have to respond better."

See the best images from the Week 13 matchup between the Jets and Vikings.

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