With RB Matt Forte out of the lineup, the Jets turned to Bilal Powell and Eli McGuire against the Jaguars and the tandem became a dynamite duo for most of the afternoon. Powell had a career-high 163 yards on the ground and the rookie did his best to match the veteran with 92 yards as the two combined for 256 while averaging 8.0 yards a carry. They had two long scoring runs and also pitched in with 65 yards receiving in the Jets' 23-20 OT triumph at MetLife Stadium.
"Both those guys did a great job popping through and running the football," said head coach Todd Bowles. "It's a tough defense to run against. We needed every big play they got. Those guys did a heck of a job."
Entering Week 4, Powell was averaging just 2.6 yards per carry. But facing the NFL's 28th-ranked rush defense, he ammassed 120 yards in the first half alone including an amazing 75-yard scoring run to give New York its lone touchdown before intermission.
Trailing 7-0 midway through the first quarter, the Jets lined up with two tight ends and converted DE Lawrence Thomas at FB in front of Powell. A pulling Brian Winters and Thomas provided an early hole for Powell before he hurdled over a Jacksonville defender. His momentum took him to the ground but nobody had touched him. Powell exploded to his feet and ran away from everyone for the career-long score.
"It was a good drawn up play and I just saw the guy going for my legs and just jumped," he said. "I didn't feel anyone touch me and I didn't hear a whistle. That's something we practice throughout training camp — effort, finishing. That showed today."
Then right before the two-minute warning, the red sea parted for Powell as he sprinted through a gaping hole along the right side for a 33 yards.
With the game knotted at 10 in the third, McGuire gave the Jets their first lead of the afternoon. He took a handoff from Josh McCown and found a hole up the middle before getting to the second level. A pair of defenders dove at McGuire as he cut right but all the Louisiana Lafayette product found was green.
"It was an outside zone and the offensive linemen did a great job of getting on their blocks," McGuire said of his first pro TD. "They made a crease for me. I saw the hole and I hit it. I made one defender miss and I took it to the house."
The Green & White were unable to put this contest away in the fourth quarter. With a 20-10 lead and the offense looking for the dagger, McCown threw behind the line of scrimmage to Powell and a lateral was returned 84 yards for a touchdown by LB Myles Jack. Then with a 20-17 advantage, Powell fell down on a third down pass from McCown and CB A.J. Bouye intercepted in Jets' territory.
"Things like that can't happen too many times and hat off to our defense backing us up on some of the mistakes that we made," Powell said of the return TD.
The Jets did not let the productive days for the back go for naught. Powell and McGuire each gained a yard on the team's final rushes in quarter five before K Chandler Catanzaro nailed the game-winner from 41 yards.
"That was a complete team effort," Powell said. "We had been talking about all week just putting it together and everybody playing together as one. You saw the results of it today."