Punched in the mouth early, the Jets need a settling presence Sunday and Josh McCown once again was in position to give his team a lift. Making his 12th start of the 2017 season, McCown turned in perhaps his most impressive performance to date. In a wild 38-31 win over the Chiefs, McCown threw for 331 yards and a score and added two touchdowns on the ground.
His 1-yard TD with 2:15 remaining proved to be the game winner, culminating a possession that was extended by Chiefs’ penalties and clutch play from the veteran passer.
“I thought Josh played a great game,” said head coach Todd Bowles.
For the second consecutive week, McCown torched an opposing secondary as Jermaine Kearse (9-157) and Robby Anderson (8-107) were targeted 22 times and combined for 17 receptions and 264 yards. It was the second consecutive week both receivers reached triple digits and McCown is in sync with an emerging duo.
“The dude’s 38, but it looks like he’s 26 out there,” said Kearse of McCown. “He’s been huge for us. His leadership throughout the week, throughout the whole season has just allowed us to continue to get better and better.”
After the Chiefs exploded out of the gates with a 14-0 lead, McCown answered with a pair of scoring drives to get the Jets evened up before the second quarter ended. He did it through the air and with his legs, the latter of which continues to be an underrated aspect of his game.
“For us to take another step as a team, it’s to handle those situations,” McCown said. “It’s to be down 14, it’s to get into one of these games that are back and forth and find yourself on the winning end at the end.”
Down 14-7, McCown picked up a couple of yards on a fourth-and-1 from the 10. Two plays later, McCown got his fourth rush TD of the year with a 1-yard sneak.
“For me, I’m just like whatever works,” McCown said. “Whatever gets us in the end zone and that’s all that matters.”
Moments before half, McCown orchestrated an excellent two-minute dive and his 11-yard scoring toss to veteran Matt Forte gave the Jets a 21-17 advantage. He was nearly flawless in the opening 30 minutes, completing 14 of 17 for 164 yards with the two total touchdowns.
“It was fun to be a part of today.” McCown said. “These are the things we’ve been chasing where we get into these fourth quarters —we’re playing good football and then we don’t finish the game.”*
*But he made sure they finished Sunday. The Jets were fantastic on third down, converting eight of their first 12 and 13 of 20 overall. To open the third, McCown led a long possession that saw the Green & White convert on five of six third downs. He continued to spread the ball around, keeping the drive alive with a 13-yarder to rookie Chad Hansen and also going to an “old” reliable like Anderson for 14 on third-and-long. He also deftly scrambled for a 12-yard gain on third-and-long.
“We ran the ball and we didn’t have as many third-and-longs as we had the last two weeks with the run game helping us out a lot and Josh is very intelligent,” Bowles said. “He picks up things and see things. I thought everybody chipped in.”
The Jets ran 49 times Sunday, totaling 157 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. McCown had two of them and he’s accounted for five of the team’s 11 rush scores this season. He is completing 68% of his passes with 18 TDs and 8 INTs and his QB rating is 96.7. But McCown, who the Jets signed in March, is much more than numbers.
“Resilience. He keeps fighting,” Anderson said. “He doesn’t let things affect him. His energy and his passion, it’s easy to play with someone like that. It’s fun to play with someone who has the same hunger as you.”
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