After the Giants defense scored 16 points in the first half, Josh McCown sprinted towards the locker room and was the first Jet off the field. McCown didn't play Saturday night, but head coach Todd Bowles will soon decide if McCown will be his team's Week 1 starter when the regular season opens in Buffalo on Sep. 10.
"Regardless of the game reps in the preseason, the way this league works is you have to be ready to go," McCown said. "Having spent a number of years in my career in different situations, when you're a backup, you don't get reps and you have to go in the game and you have to play. I rely on the ton of reps we had in the spring and getting good work during the week at practice, so I'll rely on that and be ready to go if called upon."
For the second consecutive week, McCown watched from the sideline as Christian Hackenberg endured a painful 30 minutes of action. And Bryce Petty, playing closer for a third straight game, gave the Jets a jolt with a trio of scoring passes in the second half. Unfortunately during this wild contest, Petty couldn't finish a valiant comeback attempt after getting rolled up on in the final minutes by OL Ben Braden.
"It kind of felt weird. It felt loose, which is not something you want to feel as an athlete," said Petty of his injured left knee. "MRI tomorrow and I'll find out from there."
Despite a 26-point hole, Petty took charge in the third quarter. He showed different attributes on each of his scoring passes. There was the pinpoint accuracy to ArDarius Stewart for a 25-yard TD and then there was the recognition of a mismatch as he helped further close the gap on RB Bilal Powell's 85-yard catch and run.
"Petty played well in the second half," Bowles said of his third-year passer who finished 15 of 18 for 250 yards. "He came in, made some throws and he rallied the troops. They rallied around him and he had a good ball game."
Finally there was the improvisation on the third TD as he bought himself time and eventually came back to a wide-open Stewart for another score. Petty, who started four games last season, had the ball in his hands down one score when injury struck.
"That's unfortunate, but things happen," he said. "You have to roll with it and keep your head up. There's always a plan with everything. I know I'm in good hands on that and we'll come back."
Hackenberg was victimized by two pick-sixes and was sacked four times as the Giants raced out to a 29-3 lead.
After stressing the need to establish an early rhythm, Hackenberg had a beginning that was eerily similar to the previous week in Detroit. On the second play from scrimmage, LG James Carpenter and LT Kelvin Beachum occupied one defender and blitzing FS Darian Thompson rocked Hackenberg to the ground.
Later in the first, Hackenberg locked in on TE Eric Tomlinson. S Landon Collins jumped the route for an easy interception and returned it 23 yards for a score. The Jets were outgained 182-0 in the opening stanza and found themselves in a 19-0 hole.
"I knew he was rotating down," Hackenberg said of the Collins theft. "I had lost sight of him and I turned around. And by the time I looked over, he was breaking on it."
Although Hackenberg did lead a scoring drive, he also underthrew Robby Anderson on a long ball and threw high to TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins on a intermediate toss.
Completing 8 of 15 for 60 yards Saturday, the second-year passer's final throw in the second quarter went short to Anderson, but the Jets' top target was rocked by CB Janoris Jenkins and DB Donte Deayon returned it 36 yards for another score.
"The second one was a bit of miscommunication between Robby and I," Hackenberg said. "We'll clean that up on tape and move on from there."
Yet when Petty went down, Hackenberg finished his night with a 17-yard TD pass to Frankie Hammond.
"I'm proud of the way he came back in the second half," Bowles said. "He threw a touchdown and got us down there. He learned some things in the first half that he can get better from as well as some of the other guys on offense and we'll go from there."