It wasn't always pretty, but Bryce Petty stayed after it and he got the job done. Making his second NFL start, Petty helped lead the Jets back from an 11-point 4th quarter deficit as they defeated the San Francisco 49ers 23-17 in OT here at Levi's Stadium.
Down 17-6, Petty first led the visitors on a 15-play, 66-yard march. He converted on key third and fourth downs along the way, getting three yards to WR Robby Anderson and then somehow finding WR Charone Peake for 10 yards, respectively. After TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins bulled his way for 14 yards and got the Jets in the red zone, RB Bilal Powell ultimately powered home from five yards out. Down 5, the gritty Petty fought his way to convert on the two-point try.
"I think that's the first time a stiff-arm has ever worked in my life and I'm glad it worked at that moment," Petty said. "It was funny. BP was kind of yelling at me to pull the ball as the snap was going on, and it just so happened I needed to pull the ball and got in."
On the ensuing Jets' possession, Petty moved the offense 33 yards in order to get into Nick Folk's range. Petty absorbed a huge shot from CB Jimmie Ward following a scramble, but the officials ruled that the second-year passer was in the field of play. Folk didn't need any extra room, drilling a 50-yarder to tie the game, sending it to OT.
While the Jets rode the legs of Powell Sunday, Petty came up with some key plays late. In overtime, he threw across his body to a wide-open Anderson (6-99) for 26 yards that got the Green & White into scoring range. Petty, who finished 23 of 35 for 257 yards, had a quarterback's best friend in Powell, who scored the game-winner and had 145 yards on 29 carries.
"Shoot. I think you just play QB and you go off your instincts," Petty said of his throw to Anderson in the extra seassion. "In that moment it just felt like flush left and Robby was there. It probably wasn't the smartest thing to do throwing across my body like that, but he made a play and we're sitting here with a win."
The afternoon got off to an ominous start for Petty. On his first pass, Ward jumped in front of intended receiver Quincy Enunwa for an interception. A play later, the Jets went down an early touchdown as Colin Kaepernick hit RB Carlos Hyde for a 7-yard TD.
The Jets managed a single first down in the opening quarter as Petty was sacked on two occasions. On the Jets' lone scoring drive of the opening half, Petty beat a blitz with a strike to Seferian-Jenkins (3-35) for 12 yards and then showed good touch on a short toss to Anderson. Perhaps his best pass of the half was a 14-yard hookup with Anderson as he threw out to the sideline before the Temple product made his break.
"The first half was probably about as ugly as I could play. I came out a little more nervous than I thought I was going to be," Petty said. "I felt good all week, good practices all week, and then, for whatever reason, I just have to settle down."
Sacks continued to be an issue in the second half. But with the score 17-3, Petty improbably got the Jets in position to make it a one-score game. After a DeForest Buckner takedown of Petty forced a third-and-18, Petty responded with a 40-yard completion to Anderson. The jump-ball win for the Jets created a first-and-goal situation from the 3, but another sack followed a penalty and the visitors had to settle for a 30-yard FG from Folk.
That set the stage for the Jets' largest comeback win since Week 1 of the 2011 season as Powell's 19-yard scamper rightfully ended festivities. In a start to his four-game trial run as the Jets' quarterback, Bryce Petty made a few mistakes along the way. But he persevered and got his first win as an NFL QB.
"He was up and down. You know, he had some plays he'd like to have back," said head coach Todd Bowles. "He made some throws, he made some dangerous throws. He got away with some things, but he settled down and made some gutsy plays. Two-point play took a lot of guts on his part, you know? He won the game though, the important thing, and we'll work on getting better from there."