At the beginning of this season, this Thursday night game was easy to overlook.
But both the New York Jets and Jacksonville Jaguars have played well enough to put themselves on the brink of the AFC playing cards. Going into Week 16, the Jaguars were ramping up. Planes were faltering.
The trends continued to play out that way in the rainy and windy MetLife Stadium, as the Jaguars edged out the Jets 19-3 and pulled half of the game from the Tennessee Titans in the AFC South.
For the Jets, it was their fifth loss in six games and was symbolic of their screwup. Quarterback Zack Wilson was benched – again – in the third quarter for an unheralded Chris Streveler.
Here are the winners and losers from the second-to-last Thursday Night Football game of the season.
Follow every match: Latest NFL results and schedules
Who is Chris Striveler?:Meet the QB who replaced Zach Wilson after the Jets’ pass sophomore
Picture of an NFL playoff entering Week 16:The Bengals clinch their playoff spot with the Jaguars’ victory over the Jets
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For five seasons, Engram called MetLife home. As a member of the New York Giants, he was booed on the field on several occasions.
This time he was not booed.
Ingram caught seven passes on eight targets for 113 yards, often showing his ability to catch yardage after catch.
The former first-round pick, who signed a one-year contract with Jacksonville in the offseason, had 11 catches, 162 yards, and two touchdowns two weeks ago against the Titans. Last Sunday, in a win over the Cowboys, he had 62 yards on eight catches.
Lawrence continues to grow into the potentially game-changing quarterback the Jaguars are hoping to acquire when they take him atop the 2021 draft. He was 20-of-31 for 229 yards in the air. But Lawrence was even more impressive on the ground, with seven rushes for 51 yards (7.3 yards per carry).
In the second quarter, he scored the only touch of the game on a quarterback sneak, extending the ball over the goal line immediately after the punt.
The Jaguars have lost seasons in 10 of the past 11 years. They’re not .500 yet, but they’ve won three of the last four and they only seem to get better every week.
Pederson’s brilliant first-quarter call to Ingram’s loose dismissal to counter the Jets’ blitz got them the opening score of the game, a 32-yard field goal by Riley Patterson. On a touchdown drive, the Jaguars went 96 yards over 16 plays. The sequence had 8 minutes, 15 seconds of game time, and Jacksonville had eight first downs—and didn’t face a third down until Lawrence’s first down.
Pederson has the quarterback playing the best he’s ever looked in the NFL and his team believes in himself.
There weren’t many highlights for the Jets in this game, but Williams put the Jets in the driver’s seat on the third play of the game. It also showed why he is one of the league’s most underrated, yet dominant defensive players.
The inside defensive lineman was shoveled by hooker Tyler Chatley and sacked Lawrence, who fumbled. Carl Lawson recovered and set up the Jets to a key field position at the Jaguars’ 16-yard line. This led to New York scoring the only game, a 37-yard field goal by Greg Zuerlein.
Patterson could beat the planes himself. He was 4-for-5 on field goals in a game that didn’t have the best kicking weather. His pass came from 44 yards before halftime.
The Jets put out a bunch of plays featuring Streveler this week to emphasize the running game and counter potential bad weather. Streveler came early with about five minutes left in the first quarter but the game was nullified by a false start.
With 3:31 left in the third quarter, Streveler relieved Wilson for the rest of the game. He played with his legs (nine rushes for 54 yards) and went 10-for-15 with 90 yards.
Streveler’s performance highlighted the fact that the Jets’ offense seems more efficient with anyone other than Wilson at quarterback. The year-old No. 2 overall pick is now benched for the second time, in this case by a different quarterback with Mike White — the original substitute — sidelined for the second straight game with a rib injury.
Wilson went 9-for-18 for 92 yards with an interception of a long pass as the first half ended.
Asked why the offense worked for any quarterback other than Wilson, Jets head coach Robert Salih said, “I don’t have that answer right now.”
This fanbase has not had a post-season game to cheer for over the course of 11 seasons. Looks like this line will go to 12.
The fans, who faced harsh conditions at times, declared their discontent several times throughout the course of the competition. Boos and cheers for Joe Flacco or Streveler were clearly audible on the Prime Video broadcast.
I don’t blame them. After the game, Wilson said, “We have a very passionate fanbase. They are here to watch us score touchdowns. And we don’t score touchdowns. We don’t have first downs. We don’t move the ball.”
After Thursday, another long season looks set to tempt the Jets — and their fans.
The Jets were ineffective on the ground except for some Streveler lag, when the game felt out of reach. A few weeks ago, Knight seemed like a potential star. On Thursday, he only had six rushes for two yards.
What was an elite unit this season looked mediocre at best against the Jaguars. They gave up 365 total yards, forced two hits, and also allowed Jacksonville to convert seven of their 16 first down attempts.
The titans now officially have the Jaguars breathing down their necks in the AFC South standings. At 7-7, the Giants should win Saturday at home against the lowly Houston Texans to stay on top of the division. This divisional race looks like it will come down to the teams’ Week 18 matchup – and Jacksonville currently has the head-to-head advantage thanks to their Week 14 win.
Follow Chris Bombaka on Twitter @employee.
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