EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Before David Bakhtiari could make the all-important call on the coin toss, he had to look at the coin.
The Green Bay Packers left tackle, who served as the offense’s captain Sunday, was set to call tails Sunday. He’d already called heads before the opening kickoff. That decision worked, as the Packers won and deferred possession to the second half, but a double-heads call is dicey.
So before referee Ron Torbert could flip his coin, Bakhtiari had to look. When he saw the NFL logo represented heads, Bakhtiari said he changed his mind.
“I figured why go against that,” Bakhtiari said. “I mean, (interim head coach) Joe Philbin has said that the NFL gods are real. So I don’t want to bet against them, and they proved me right. I went 2-0.”
The second correct call represented rare success with the overtime coin flip. It snapped a four-overtime streak in which the Packers saw their opponent start the extra period with possession. The streak, painfully, included postseason losses to Seattle in the 2014 NFC Championship game and Arizona in the 2015 NFC divisional round.
“Just historically,” right tackle Bryan Bulaga said, “overtime games don’t go well. So to finally get one to go our way, it was nice.”
Bulaga credited Bakhtiari’s infinite wisdom for changing the Packers' overtime, coin-flip fortunes. To hear him say it, though, the veteran right tackle deserved an assist.
Bulaga, whose locker was next to Bakhtiari, said his longtime teammate entered Sunday planning to call tails twice. Before the game, he told Bakhtiari to rethink that.
“I told him before the game,” Bulaga said, “I always call heads. Yeah, he was going in tails. I said, ‘I always call heads.’ I’m glad he listened.”
Not that Bakhtiari always listens to his older teammate.
“Oh,” Bulaga said, “I mean, that's one in a million. One in a million.”
Bakhtiari stopped short of giving Bulaga credit. He said his streak-ending decision was simpler.
“I liked the way it looked,” Bakhtiari said. “It was either the NFL logo or something else. I said, ‘Is that one heads?’ He said, ‘Yeah.’ I’m like, ‘All right, heads.’”
Tramon Williams had a couple stitches in his right eyebrow and a bite mark on his tongue, but that didn’t stop him from returning to Sunday’s game and dropping back to field more punts.
With Randall Cobb inactive, Williams was called on again to be the Packers' punt returner against the Jets. The 35-year-old defensive back took a helmet-to-helmet hit from gunner Trenton Cannon, temporarily knocking him out of the game in the first half. Cannon was penalized 15 yards for a hit against a defenseless player.
But Williams returned and didn’t hesitate to field more punts. Even if he had to gather his nerve again for the first one.
“It’s like going through it all over again,” Williams said. “You want to make that catch just to get your mettle back. You’ve got to. You’ve got to. So went back there, made the catch, got my mettle back. I’m good.”
Williams joked about the toughness it took to field more punts.
“Man,” he said. “I’m a G, man. I’m a G. I’m fine. Got a couple stitches right here.”
If right tackle Bryan Bulaga said or did something to set off Jets defensive lineman Leonard Williams in Sunday’s first half, he wasn’t sharing.
Bulaga said there was nothing that escalated Williams’ hip toss and, eventually, punch to his face. The Jets defensive lineman, picked sixth overall in 2015, was ejected after the punch.
“I didn’t say anything to him,” Bulaga said. “He was just upset I guess.”
Bulaga said he was surprised when Williams hip-tossed him. He had been playing mostly three technique for the Jets, meaning he lined up against the guard. So Bulaga said there was little interaction with Williams before the confrontation.
“I didn’t even know what happened,” Bulaga said. “I have no idea. I just remember he hip-tossed me, or some MMA move. He must do that in the offseason or something, because it was a pretty good move by him. And he punched me in the face, and I was kind of like — I was kind of lost in where I was in space after he punched me in the face. So I don’t know who came or what happened.”
It was the second time in as many games between the two teams that a Jets defensive lineman was ejected for throwing a punch. When they last played in 2014 at Lambeau Field, Muhammad Wilkerson was ejected for punching Bakhtiari. Wilkerson now plays for the Packers, though he has been on injured reserve most of the season.
Alexander, Taylor injured
Jaire Alexander was pulling down his suitcase just before exiting the visitor’s locker room at MetLife Stadium when he noticed a reporter waiting for him
“You want to ask me about my groin?” he said. “Yeah, I pulled it. First drive.”
The rookie corner took himself out of the game after the second play of the second quarter, but it was clear early that something was off as Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson was able to make several easy catches on Alexander.
“It was the first drive, early. I tried to stay out there,” said Alexander, who was already playing with one broken finger and another sprained digit. “I tried to come up and make a tackle on a screen, the last screen, that (expletive) gave out. I knew I did. I just tried to do some other preventative measures but that (expletive) don’t work. And it’s cold out. It tightened up.”
It was the second time this season Alexander didn’t finish a game due to the groin, as he left the Buffalo victory on Sept. 30. He then missed the next two games.
“I’m very grateful. Very thankful, man. It could be worse. That’s how I look at it.”
Starting left guard Lane Taylor was lost for the game on the Packers’ second series with a knee injury. He said he hyperextended the joint on a six-yard pass play, the Packers’ seventh play of the game. There was instability after the injury, though Taylor did not have any protective apparatus on in the locker room.
As it stands now, the Packers are in the 15th position in the first round of the 2019 draft based on their 6-8-1 record.
Had they lost to the Jets, they would have been in the 11th spot, which is where they were going into Sunday.
The Packers’ tie with the Vikings in Week 2, puts them behind all the six-win teams (Cincinnati, Denver, Atlanta and Carolina) when considering the inverse order of finish.
If Denver were to beat Oakland on Monday night, it would fall behind the Packers, who would move up to No. 14.
If the Packers were to lose at home to the Detroit Lions next week and finish 6-9-1, they would have a chance of moving back into the 11th spot. They would need all the six-win teams to win so that they had one fewer victory.
If the Packers beat the Lions, they would need Cleveland (7-7-1), Washington (7-8) and Miami (7-8) to win in to hold in the 14th spot. The Browns play at Baltimore, Washington hosts Philadelphia and the Dolphins play at Buffalo.
If all three of those teams lose, and the Packers win, Green Bay would be tied with Cleveland for the 17th spot. The final position would be determined by tiebreakers.