Zach Wilson ignites Jets for first win over Titans in overtime

Andy Vasquez
NFL writer
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The first time Zach Wilson played a game at MetLife Stadium, he was booed by an angry crowd of New York Jets fans in the fourth quarter.

Things looked and sounded a little bit different late in Wilson's second home game.

Jets fans were screaming and jumping and there was even some hugging going on, as Wilson played a key role in a fourth-quarter comeback as the Jets beat the Titans 27-24 in overtime for their first win of the season.

And it was a wild one.

Wilson had his struggles early, but he was exactly what the Jets needed in the second half, throwing two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter to get the first win of his career and leading the game-winning drive in overtime. He finished 21-of-34 for 297 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

"Like we all talk about with these young kids – they’re kids," Jets coach Robert Saleh said of the 22-year-old who completed 14-of-22 passes for 232 yards and two touchdowns in the second half and overtime. "You get a little ball rolling, you get a little bit of confidence and it starts to snowball. ... The kid was outstanding. There are still things that he knows he can clean up. He had a chance to end it in overtime, but the guy was resilient, he had resolve and he’s a playmaker."

Zach Wilson, of the New York Jets, is shown before the game. Sunday, October 3, 2021

He didn't do it alone. Receiver Corey Davis, who has struggled early in the season, had a breakout game with four catches for 111 yards.

And the defense kept the Jets in the game early, when the offense couldn't get anything done. Yes, they allowed Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill to complete 30-of-49 passes for 298 yards and a touchdown. They surrendered 157 rushing yards and a touchdown to star back Derrick Henry. They also gave up a game-tying touchdown with 16 seconds remaining, allowing the Titans to force overtime.

But they also sacked Tannehill seven times, including two sacks from Quinnen Williams and one from Quincy Williams, making them the first brothers to record sacks in the same NFL game since Elias Sports started tracking sacks in 1982.

And after Matt Ammendola made a 22-yard field goal early in overtime, they won the game by forcing the Titans to attempt a long field goal in the final seconds of overtime. Titans kicker Randy Bullock had the chance to tie the game, but his 49-yard kick missed wide left sending the fans and players here into celebration mode.

And when it was over, Saleh had one message for Wilson. 

"‘You having fun yet?'" Saleh said. "That’s it."

Yes, the Titans were without their two top receivers: A.J. Brown and Julio Jones. But the Jets were without starting safety Marcus Maye and rookie receiver Elijah Moore — not to mention the key injuries they've been dealing with since training camp. And they were coming off an awful game in Denver in which they weren't even competitive.

They had scored zero touchdowns in eight straight quarters before Sunday's game. But when they needed a win to avoid falling into a 0-4 hole that would have essentially ended their season on the first weekend of October, Wilson and the Jets responded with their best offensive performance of the season. And for the first time since before the season began, the Jets move forward with something to be optimistic about. 

But they also know there's plenty to learn. 

"I wouldn’t say we fully arrived," Wilson said. "I would definitely say that this is just another puzzle piece to where we’re trying to get. We’ve got to stack blocks. We’ve got to just keep getting better. ... It’s great learning from a win."

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