Ty Montgomery
ESNY Graphic, AP Photo

New York Jets back Ty Montgomery saw a familiar issue rise in Saturday’s game, but recovered to score the lone touchdown.

Geoff Magliocchetti

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ—A crucial fumble against a 2018-19 NFC finalist ended Ty Montgomery’s career in one green uniform. One on Saturday for a new team probably wouldn’t have done the same, but the implications were nonetheless brutal.

The New York Jets‘ top preseason rusher nearly saw a good exhibition slate go to waste after a familiar issue was resurrected on the Jets’ second play from scrimmage on Saturday night against the New Orleans Saints.

A Montgomery fumble deep in Jets territory allowed New Orleans to expand an early lead to double digits at 10-0. New Orleans’ offensive starter had previously marched down the field to take the initial lead, one they wound up never giving away in a 28-13 exhibition victory.

That turnover came less than a calendar year after Montgomery’s career as a Green Bay Packer ended with a fumble on a crucial kickoff from the Los Angeles Rams. Green Bay would trade the fourth-year veteran mere hours after the incident.

On Saturday, the Jets offered Montgomery what the 2018 Packers did not: trust and redemption. Montgomery has taken over primary rushing duties during summer’s exhibitions while fellow newcomer Le’Veon Bell rests. He’s taking the most out of his opportunities, establishing himself as a de facto 12th starter.

The fumble didn’t scare the Jets from giving Montgomery new opportunities. The dual-threat running back wound up touching the ball 11 more times (seven carries, four receptions) after his early gaffe. His final haul wound up being the Jets’ most profitable play of the evening.

Situated deep in opponents’ territory, Montgomery teamed up with Sam Darnold to end an otherwise stagnant night for the Jets’ offense the right way. Two yards from the goal line, a floater to Montgomery from the hands of Darnold gave the Jets their eventually only touchdown of the evening.

The score drew a fist pump from Bell on the sidelines and ended a day that saw Montgomery earn 45 total yards (21 rushing, 24 receiving).

Montgomery’s redemption was no shock to Darnold.

“Ty’s a vet. He’s been doing it for a long time,” a non-pulsed Darnold said. “To see the way he bounced back after the fumble doesn’t surprise me.”

The rusher/receiver potentially ends his preseason with 64 yards on 17 carries to accompany 29 yards on five catches. Stepping in for Bell has afforded Montgomery a chance to reclaim her career narrative.

He has been grateful for the Jets’ faith in him all offseason. The New Orleans aftermath had him talking about the positive feeling of taking some hits against a starting defense.

“I like the preseason for that reason: just get a feel for the flow of the game, get hit a couple of time,” he said. “It’s faster than practice. Obviously, guys (are) laying out too many tackles when they wouldn’t do that in practice.”

But on Saturday, Montgomery was far more pleased with the Jets’ cohesiveness as an offensive unit.

“I think we’re in a great spot right now. I think we’ve shown we come out hot, we come out fast,” he said. “I had the fumble, we had some three and outs. Whatever happened we bounced back and we ended up getting (an) explosive play. We ended up getting that touchdown drive, and I think we ended up finding that rhythm.”

In a way, there were several similarities between Montgomery’s summer journey and the Jets’ starting offensive unit.

At first, the night was full of struggles. Four punts ended the Jets’ first quartet of possessions. But thanks to the dual threats of Montgomery and Darnold’s budding talents, they were able to generate something positive.

Once again, Montgomery opted to view things from a team-oriented lens.

“I think the positive from the night is we’ve shown that we can bounce when adversity strikes, just in the little bit we’ve played tonight so I like where we are,” he said. “We’re making some mistakes but we’re doing some really good things.”

Montgomery and the Jets conclude their preseason on Thursday night at home against the Philadelphia Eagles (7:00 p.m. ET, WCBS).

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