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Jets-Rams 3 Takeaways: Green & White Fend Off Rams for First Win of the Season

Sam Darnold and Offense Put Together Most Complete Performance of 2020

New York Jets running back Frank Gore (21) celebrates after a first down during an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, December 20, 2020 in Inglewood, California. (Ben Liebenberg/NFL)

Quick Starts, Settling for Field Goals
The Jets offense put together it's most impressive performance of the season against the NFL's No. 1 defense in the 23-20 win over the Rams on Sunday.

"We had some big plays in the game, we did some good stuff in the closing minutes to close it off," Head Coach Adam Gase said. "We had a little lull there in the beginning of the fourth quarter. We have to get some things cleaned up and help us keep the lead we had. I thought the guys did a great job of keeping their heads down, working and finishing the game the right way."

He added: "I'm happy for our guys. If you watch them work every day, see how hard they compete in games, they deserve this. They deserved it awhile ago. We had a few snatched away from us and to finally close out a game against a good team, too, it says a lot about what kind of character we have in this locker room."

The Jets scored on each of their opening possessions in both halves and extended a franchise-mark, scoring on the team's opening drive for the eighth straight game. QB Sam Darnold led the Jets on a 13-play, 74-yard drive capped by a Ty Johnson 18-yard catch-and-run touchdown for a 7-0 lead. The Jets extended their lead to open the second half, driving 72 yards on 11 plays. Frank Gore put the Green & White up, 20-3, on 1-yard score up the middle on fourth-and-goal. Then late in the fourth quarter up, 23-20, facing third-and-6, RB Darnold checked down to Gore, who got the first down and sealed the Jets' first win of the 2020 season.

"I saw 51 [Rams' LB Troy Reeder] run out of the middle of the field, I knew it was going to be a quick pass," Gore said of the game-sealing first down. "I told Sam to watch me over the middle. He looked and I was open. I wanted to make sure I secured the ball."

Darnold completed 22 of 31 (71%) for 207 yards and 1 TD for a 99.8 rating. Despite good third-down numbers (7 of 17, 41%), the Jets couldn't capitalize in the red zone. They scored touchdowns in two of their four possessions. And without gaudy rushing and passing numbers – Gore led the RBs with 59 yards and WR Jamison Crowder led the WRs with 66 receiving yards – the Jets were able to get their first win of the season.

"It's everything," Darnold said. "The effort that our guys put forth every single week, our coaches, it means the world to us. To be able to celebrate in the locker room after, that's what you live for as an NFL football player. It's an amazing feeling, but we're excited to get back and get back to work. We have a tough game ahead in the Browns and we're excited for the challenge."

See Best Images from the 23-20 Victory in Los Angeles

Inspired Defense
The Jets defense came out firing against the Rams and put together its best half of the season, but couldn't stop the Rams late. The Jets shut out the NFL's No. 5 overall offense in the first half and held Los Angeles to 97 total yards. QB Jared Goff, who entered Sunday's game completing a career-high 68.5% of his passes, completed 11 of 20 (55%) in the first half and threw for 86 yards and 1 interception.

Momentum was starting to slide to the Rams when Jets DL John Franklin-Myers jumped offside on fourth-and-1 on the LA 28-yard line, giving the Rams a first down. The next play, however, rookie CB Bryce Hall came away with his first career interception and ran it back 20 yards to the Rams' 22. Five plays later, K Sam Ficken extended the Green & White's lead, 13-0. In the second half, however, the Rams gained 206 yards and roared back from a 17-point deficit. But S Marcus Maye sealed the deal, breaking up a Goff pass intended for TE Gerald Everett on fourth-and-4.

"Their offense has tons of players," Gase said. "You saw it today, it takes one or two touches and all of a sudden they're from one side of the field to the other very quickly. The guys just kept coming back, wiring in. I thought the defensive coaches did a great job of being aggressive in the right way. I can't say enough about Marcus Maye. What he did in this game, he almost tried to end it himself with an interception, but then he made a hell of a play at the end of the game. I'm just glad that he was out there."

Perhaps the best tackle came in the fourth quarter on special teams as P Braden Mann took down PR Nsimba Webster in the open field for what would have been a touchdown to give the Rams the lead.

"That returner is slippery," said Mann, a former high school LB, who entered Sunday's game with 3 tackles. "He split about six guys and made it through. I just reacted. I didn't really think a whole lot and I guess I was in good position, by accident kind of."

Gase added: "I was standing on the end that the returner was coming and there was a lot of green grass. That one was an unbelievable tackle by him."

Run Defense
Coming off a game in which the Rams ran for 186 yards against the Patriots and the Jets allowed 174 yards to the Seahawks, the Green & White held the Rams to 26 rushing yards on 8 carries (3.3 avg) in the first half. Rookie RB Cam Akers, who had 171 rushing yards in Week 14, came alive in the second half. He finished with 61 yards on 15 carries and WR Robert Woods had a 40-yard rush that put the Rams on the Jets' 21-yard line. Four plays later, TE Tyler Higbee's 3-yard TD made it a one-possession game, 23-17. The Rams finished with 114 rushing yards.

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