Not playing up to their standard in run defense the past few weeks, the Jets controlled the trenches Sunday holding the Falcons' fourth-ranked rushing offense, averaging 139.3 yards per game, to 90 yards in a 13-8 loss.
"We came out there with an attitude that we wanted to stop the goddamn run," DL Quinton Jefferson said. "The past few games we have slipped up and we wanted to show we're still dominant and I think we all challenged ourselves to stand up and stand up to the table."
In the last three contests, the Jets defense allowed 148.3 yards per game on the ground. In Week 13 they held the Dirty Birds to 2.6 yards per carry among three running backs – Bijan Robinson, Tyler Allgeier and Cordarrelle Patterson.
"We were just getting off the ball and playing physicality," said DL John Franklin-Myers. "We understand that teams want to come and run the ball. They want to be physical, but that is what we like to do. We like to be physical and violent. So, between our physicality and effort, that is what I think changed the game."
They set the tone in the first quarter with a safety that gave the Jets a 2-0 lead. Pinned inside their own 5-yard line by a Thomas Morstead 47-punt downed at the 1, the Falcons tried a run to the left with Robinson, the No. 8 selection April's NFL Draft. DL Quinnen Williams got a hand on Robinson to slow him down and S Ashtyn Davis drove his blocker into the rookie tailback to drop him for a safety – the Jets' third of the year (they're the only team with more than one this season). They finished the game with 6 tackles for loss.
"We're relentless," Franklin-Myers said. "We can't stop no matter the circumstances of what goes on. We play hard and when we get a team backed up, we smell blood. We want those points."
Pass rusher Jermaine Johnson stood out with 1.5 sacks, 3 QB hits and 2 tackles for loss. The Jets second-year pass rusher continues his breakout season and upped his sack total to 6.5 on the year, four better than his rookie season.
"Today was one of the first times you could really tell that guys just didn't want to line up in front of him," Franklin-Myers said. "You watch 90% of his reps and he was on the dominating end. He is playing better as the year goes, and you can't say enough good about him."
Early in the first quarter, Johnson bull rushed Falcons Pro Bowl LT Jake Matthews into the lap of QB Desmond Ridder and wrapped up the signal caller by the legs for a half sack with Jefferson.
With 6 minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Falcons, up 13-8, faced a 3rd and 2 inside at their own 19-yard line. Ridder handed the ball to Patterson and Johnson knocked Matthews back five yards and wrapped up the tailback for a 2-yard loss. Johnson's TFL gave the Jets offense another opportunity to win the game.
"He came out there with an attitude and a mindset and took it to that guy play in and play out," Jefferson said of Johnson. "He was walking him back, going through him, and just being physical."
Despite a disappointing loss, the Jets have now held their opponent to less than 100 yards on the ground four times and held the Falcons to 194 yards of total offense.
"I'm super proud of all those guys on our side of the ball man," Jefferson said. "And I'll say I'm honored to go to war with them week in and week out. I appreciate it."
See the best game action photos during Sunday's game against the Atlanta Falcons.