While all three phases clicked for the Jets in their 48-17 season-opening win over the Lions, the defense had a pick parade and inside linebacker Darron Lee led their thievery with two of the unit’s five interceptions.
Lee’s pair of picks of Matt Stafford were the firsts of his career and the initial theft resulted in his first professional touchdown. Defensive lineman Henry Anderson made a nice move to get inside pressure on Stafford and the veteran passer forced a ball into coverage. Confident in his pre-snap read, Lee jumped the route and returned it 36 yards up the sideline to put the Jets up 31-17. That was the Jets’ second touchdown in a 31-point third quarter explosion.
“I’ve been watching that formation since July,” Lee said of the score. “Jamal [Adams] called it out, I called it out. I just sat there and went on the inside route. It was either going to be a snag route or a ram route. I told somebody I was going to score the first defensive touchdown. In the grand scheme of things, that play is the result of everybody being on the same page. Communication is something we’ve worked on, so hats off to everybody on the defense.”
On a historic night for the visitors, Lee’s score marked the first time since 2013 that a Jets defender found the end zone (Antonio Allen). Entering his third season, the 6’1”, 232-pounder said in training camp that he was in the best physical shape of his career and expects to make more splash plays like he did Monday night. The Ohio State product’s second interception came in plus-territory and led to a Jason Myers 32-yard field goal, extending the team’s lead to 41-17.
"I made coverage a real point of emphasis with my game during the offseason," Lee said. "We've made some real strides in coverage as a team. And I'm happy it came to fruition tonight."
Last season, the Jets totaled 11 interceptions while Stafford totaled 10. But the Green & White collected five overall with defensive backs Trumaine Johnson, Morris Claiborne and Jamal Adams all pitching in with one apiece. In addition to Lee registering his first two career interceptions, Adams picked up his first in the final frame against backup Matt Cassel.
“We played a full four-quarter game,” Lee said. “This is just what happens when we put in the work. I’m just so proud of everybody.”