The New York Jets sacked Deshaun Watson six times on Saturday night, but J.J. Watt showed everybody what “elite” looks like.
EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY—Six sacks. 10 hits on the quarterback. 14 yards allowed from running backs. The New York Jets’ defense accumulated those stats on Saturday night against the Houston Texans.
Unfortunately, it’s something they didn’t get that will haunt them for the next eight days: one stop.
A potent offense headlined by Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins looked human against the Jets’ defenders. For a majority of the game, one could be excused for thinking the Jets, rather than the Texans, were the ones fighting for a first-round bye in the upcoming AFC playoffs.
The eliminated Jets harassed Watson all night, bringing him down at critical junctures throughout the game. With the help of a rejuvenated offense, a 16-3 deficit became a 22-19 lead. Back-to-back wins were possible for a Jets team playing for each other, fueled by pride and unity. MetLife Stadium was perhaps at its loudest since Taylor Swift’s Reputation World Tour came to visit, as Watson continuously got knocked down. Defensive lineman Henry Anderson, he of three sacks the entire season, led the way with three alone on Saturday.
But, like so many other times this season, a Jets team that prides itself on playing a retro brand of smashmouth football failed to make a defensive stop.
Held in check since the Texans’ lead summitted at 13, Watson led the team on a masterful 75-yard drive that needed just seven plays to complete. Appropriately, the drive ended in familiar fashion: a touchdown grab from Hopkins, a receiver thriving with a young, strong thrower getting the ball to him.
Saturday could probably go down as a win for the Jets as it is. After all, Darnold showed further evidence that he’s starting to get this NFL quarterbacking thing down to the tune of 253 yards and two showstopping scores. But a second win, one that could’ve been the Jets’ first instance of consecutive wins since October, could have provided boosts elsewhere. It’s great that Darnold is gaining confidence moving forward. But those good feelings shouldn’t be exclusive to the quarterback alone.
“It’s frustrating to lose a ballgame,” head coach Todd Bowles simply said afterward.