The Jets defense was elite and QB Zach Wilson led a trio of second-half TD drives as the Green & White drilled the Houston Texans, 30-6, Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium. The Jets (5-8) snapped a five-game losing streak in a driving rain and the Texans dropped to 7-6.
Wilson, who served as the team's emergency No. 3 QB the past two games, was triumphant in his return to the lineup and got the Jets offense rolling in the third quarter. Leading 75- and 69-yard scoring drives, the Jets opened up their largest lead of the season at 14-0 on Wilson's 15-yard TD to Randall Cobb and Xavier Gipson's 9-yard scamper on an end around. Wilson (27-36-301-2TD) became the first Jets passer in 16 games to reach 300 yards. It was his third career game when he eclipsed 300 passing yards and the first that came in a win.
"I thought Zach probably played the best game of his career," HC Robert Saleh said. "Just the off-schedule stuff, the timing and rhythm and getting the ball to where it needed to get to, being aggressive but smart at the same time. I know he had the [fumble], but the aggressiveness to scramble, he was out there having a good time. He made a lot of things happen that weren't there, so hats off to him. I thought he was outstanding today."
C.J. Stroud, the No. 2 overall selection in last April's NFL Draft, and the Texans were bottled up all afternoon. The Jets held the Texans to 135 yards of total offense and limited them to 1 of 12 on third down. Stroud (10-23-91) left in the fourth quarter and entered concussion protocol. Corners D.J. Reed (3 PD) and Sauce Gardner (2 PD) led a frisky unit that finished with 10 PD.
"If our offense is up, or if it's a close game, the other team has to throw the ball," Gardner said of the production. "We don't have that many picks in the secondary, especially me and D.J., but when we're winning, the other team has to the pass the ball. That allows us to have more opportunities to make plays on the ball."
Scoreless entering the third quarter, Wilson got 25 yards on a conversion to Garrett Wilson that came on a third-and-12 play from the Houston 40. Then he hit Cobb over the middle for a score and the Jets were off and running. That set the tone for a sizzling start to the second half that saw Wilson complete his first 16-of-17 passes for 200 yards. After losing a fumble on a scramble that set up Texans RB Devin Singeltary's TD, Wilson quickly led the Jets back down the field and answered with a 3-yard score to Breece Hall.
G.Wilson (9-108) and Hall (8-86-1TD) combined for 17 receptions, 194 yards and 1 TD on 23 Z.Wilson targets. The Jets more than doubled their season scoring average and handed DeMeco Ryan's club its biggest margin of defeat in the process.
Already without electrifying rookie WR Tank Dell (47-709-7TD) and TE Dalton Shultz (40-455-5TD), Stroud lost Nico Collins (59-991-6TD) in the first half to a calf injury. Stroud, who was averaging a league-high 295 pass yards per game, couldn't get anything going in the rain against an elite pass defense. The Jets totaled 3 sacks and Bryce Huff moved back into the team lead with 7 QB takedowns. Past the midway point of the fourth quarter, Stroud exited following a 6-yard completion to John Metchie.
The teams played to a scoreless first half as they combined for 11 punts in the first two quarters. Both clubs converted 1 of 7 on third down before intermission as Thomas Morstead helped the Jets win the field position game with three punts downed inside the 20. But the Jets exploded in the second half for their most dominant win of 2023.
See the best game action photos during Sunday's game against the Houston Texans.
The Jets started a ninth different offensive line combination in as many games as Jake Hanson got the call at RG and Max Mitchell returned to RT. While Hanson became the 13th different starter on the line, it was the Jets' 10th different line combo in 13 games. …. The 0-0 score at halftime was the NFL's first scoreless opening half since a Washington-San Francisco Week 7 game in 2019. … After a three-game homestand, the Jets will return to division play next week in South Florida against the AFCE-leading Dolphins. …. Greg Zuerlein continued his terrific season with makes from 51, 55 and 44 yards.