Some losses, it's a struggle and a stretch to put find a star. That wasn't the case Sunday at MetLife Stadium
Elijah Moore turned on the Jets for a shining individual game that almost led the Jets to team victory.
Moore wasn't being rude, just direct in his postgame remarks about his eight-catch, 141-yard game that included a 62-yard catch-and-run that had the Jets in the fight as the fourth quarter began.
Head coach Robert Saleh politely begged to differ.
"Elijah's getting better every week," Saleh said. "I'm really pumped for him. He's starting to get into a rhythm, he had the explosive play. He's stacking up days and he's only getting better. He's going to be special."
The "explosive" the coached referenced was eye-popping in any number of ways. The play itself was a play-action sling by QB Joe Flacco on third down. It hit Moore in stride at Miami's 46 past diving S Byron Jones and No. 8 was off to the races. He outran three Dolphins to the goal line, diving over ahead of rookie S Jevon Holland's attempt to shove him out of bounds. That tied the score at 14-14.
Then the history of the play: At 62 yards, the reception was the longest by a Jets rookie since RB Leon Washington (now a Jets special teams assistant coach) went 64 yards from Chad Pennington on Christmas night at Miami in 2006. And it was the second-longest catch by a Jets rookie at home, behind only WR Al Toon's 78-yarder from Ken O'Brien vs. Tampa Bay in 1985. And the score was Moore's fifth of the season and fourth receiving TD in the last three games.
The long play was also the center gem of a tiara of a game by Moore, who added a 15-yard end-around to his career-high eight receptions to finish with 156 scrimmage yards. His 141 receiving yards were the most by a Jets rookie since Rob Moore had 175 yards at New England in 1990, and the most receiving yards and YFS by a Jets rookie in a home game since Wesley Walker erupted in 1977 for 178 yards — all on four receptions. That's some elite company Moore is now keeping .
But those distinctions didn't do it for the serious-minded second-rounder out of Ole Miss.
"It's just execution," he said of the Jets' decent but not quite good enough 380 yards and 18 first downs (six of which came on his plays). "At the end of the day, that's what it always comes down to. Close game, four-quarter fight. All we've got to do is finish."
Michael Carter, the Jets' other rookie skill-position draftee, was on his way to a similarly impactful showing before he turned an ankle on the second play of the third quarter, ending his day with 63 yards at 7.0 yards/carry plus a 2-yard catch. Flacco was happy to get their contributions to his 291-yard passing game and the Jets' 380 yards of total offense.
"I think they're really good players and they've got really good attitudes," Flacco said. "Both those guys specifically have good heads on their shoulders. They look like they're ready to learn and they want to get better. The next step in developing those guys is getting some wins so they can get confident to build on what we're doing."