The Jets (3-10) were held to three Eddy Piñeiro field goals and dropped a 30-9 decision to the Saints (6-7) on Sunday at MetLife Stadium. While rookie QB Zach Wilson finished 19 of 42 for 202 yards leading an injury-depleted unit, New Orleans leaned on star RB Alvin Kamara as he topped the 100-yard mark on the ground and scored the decisive touchdown from 16 yards out in the second quarter. The Saints put the hammer down in the second half, turning a 4-point game into a runaway.
After a 33-18 loss to the Eagles, linebacker C.J. Mosley said that the Jets had to go out and earn respect. Against a Saints team compromised at quarterback due to Taysom Hill's middle-finger injury, the defense forced three punts in the first half as former Saints DT Sheldon Rankins brought down Hill for a 19-yard loss following a fumble, and fellow DL Kyle Phillips recorded his first sack since 2019. They also held the Saints to 17% on third down (1 of 6) before intermission including a great stop from Mosley on Hill on a third-and-1.
Still Kamara was the best player on the field early as he amassed 75 ground yards on 13 carries for a 4.9-yard average as the Saints took a 10-6 lead into the third quarter. The dynamic weapon, who had missed the Saints previous four games, ran 27 times for 120 yards and added 25 yards on 4 receptions.
"I think for the most part we did a solid job," Rankins said. "Obviously Alvin is one of the better backs not only in the league, but when its all said and done, be one of the better backs to play the game. He was able to break a few, but with that type of guy, he's going to make some plays. Overall, we corralled him pretty well. ... We knew coming into the game it's a quarterback with a messed up finger, his best attribute is being able to run the ball, they were going to lean on the run and short passes, which are extended runs.
"We just have to be able to remain consistent in our detail level of play throughout four quarters. There were times where we played well and were able to stop it, get some run stops behind the line of scrimmage, get them in negative-yardage situations. Overall, we needed some stops and weren't able to get them."
Mosley, the four-time Pro Bowler, led the defense with 17 tackles and gave the Jets a jolt in the third quarter with a third-down stuff of Kamara. It was Mosley's seventh 10+ tackle game this season and he was the Jets' best player.
Hill, who completed 15 of 21 for 175 yards, ran for 73 yards and his 2-yard TD in the fourth quarter preceded a 44-yard sprint to paydirt with 1:07 remaining. The Saints finished with 203 yard rushing compared to the Jets' 78.
"Well-designed play on their part," HC Robert Saleh said of Hill's long rushing score. "They used [Kamara] as a decoy. We got cut out on one spot and ran underneath another block."
New Look(s) on Offense
Fresh off his best game as a pro, Wilson completed 7 of 18 in the first half for 76 yards as the Jets were limited to a pair of field goals from Piñeiro (36 and 46 yards). The Jets' top two wideouts — Elijah Moore and Corey Davis — were placed on injured reserve earlier this week, RB Michael Carter (high ankle) remains sidelined, RB Tevin Coleman (concussion protocol) was out and Austin Walter was active but couldn't go on game day because of illness.
"I thought the guys today were ready for the opportunity to step up," Wilson said. "I have to give them some better throws, put them in better situations. Obviously it would be nice to have those guys, but this is how the NFL goes -- next guy up. I thought they did a nice job."
Although Wilson converted a fourth-and-7 with a 14-yard connection to WR Braxton Berrios and eluded pressure before finding TE Ryan Griffin for a 22-yard catch-and-run and pitched in with an 18-yard scramble, the Jets were 1-of-7 on third downs in an uneven opening two quarters.
On the Jets' first three possessions in the second half, they punted twice and turned the ball over on downs. Berrios was targeted a team-high 10 times and led the offense with six catches and 52 receiving yards. The final play from scrimmage had Wilson scrambling for 5 yards to the New Orleans 1 and the Jets were held without a touchdown.
"Just not executing, that's all it really comes down to," Wilson said. "I've got to make better throws. We have to establish some drives and get going. The defense did a good job holding them up, gave us a lot of opportunities and we have to take advantage of them on offense."
Saleh added: "It wasn't his cleanest game. He was hindered with some drops early, don't know if that threw him off or not. He's played better in the past and he'll get better from it."
The drops Saleh were referring to included three times in the first three drives when Wilson tried to connect with RB Ty Johnson out of the backfield. Johnson couldn't corral any of the passes from the No. 2 overall pick, including one third-and-2 that would have moved the chains. Instead, the offense went three and out.
"It hit my hands and I dropped it," said Johnson, who finished with 4 catches for 40 yards. "What else is there to say? I can make those catches and I believe in myself to make those catches. I just didn't give eyes to the ball to look it all the way in and I told Zach it was completely on me. If it touches my hands, I need to bring it in. I told him on the sideline and I told him in the locker room just now. I've been catching all year out of the backfield. I just couldn't look them in those first three ones. I caught them in the second half and bounced back from it. I feel like I ended on a better note."
See Best Images from the Game at MetLife Stadium
Special Teams Solid
The Jets trotted out Eddy Piñeiro, their third kicker in as many weeks, and he delivered. Piñeiro made all three of his field-goal attempts, converting from 36, 46 and 36 yards out.
"I've kicked here before when I was playing with Chicago in 2019, so I was a little bit familiar with it," he said. "But leading up to this week, getting some snap-hold-kick, the timing right with the holder (Braden Mann) and the snapper (Thomas Hennessy) was crucial for me."
The temperature at kickoff was a mild 48 degrees, but the winds were clocked at 14 MPH with gusts must stronger than that on a blustery afternoon.
He said of the wind: "I felt like pregame it was very windy, but it started to die down during the second and third quarter."
Mann rebounded after averaging 39 yards per punt in each of his last two games. He had 6 punts for 313 yards (52.2 avg) including one punt inside the 20-yard line that put the Saints at their 7. He had a long of 60. Berrios continued to impress at both return spots, averaging 27.8 yards per kick return and 14.7 yards per punt return with a long of 28.
"We're doing a great job," Berrios said. "I say we because it's really the other 10 guys who make it happen, I'm just the one with the ball, so I tend to get more of the credit. We're doing a great job of executing and as the season as gone on, we've meshed a little better, understood things a little bit better and we continue to keep getting better."
The Jets inactives were RB Tevin Coleman, OL Isaiah Williams, TE Trevon Wesco, DE Ronnie Blair, DT Jonathan Marshall, CB Michael Carter II and CB Isaiah Dunn. … WR D.J. Montgomery made his NFL debut and had an 8-yard reception in the final quarter and CB Rachad Wildgoose was active for his first NFL game. … DE Kyle Phillips registered his his first sack since the 2019 season. … Against their former team, CB Justin Hardee had a special teams stop and DT Sheldon Rankins had 4 tackles. … TE Ryan Griffin had 1 reception for 22 yards and remains the only Jets' target with a reception in every game this season. … Third-year defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, who is tied for the team lead with 6 sacks and who was recently nominated for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, left the field for a few plays in the second half due to a shoulder injury. He returned and played through the pain. … Second-year RB La'Mical Perine, active for the fourth time this season, led the club with 7 carries and finished with 28 yards on the ground.