The Jets brought some heart to San Francisco and came out with a 23-17 overtime win, as Bryce Petty earned his first-career win.
While one streak ended (New York’s four-game skid), another was extended (San Francisco’s 12-game slide), as it appeared early on that it wouldn’t have been the case. The Niners (1-12) had the look of a team that was going to end its 11-game losing streak, as it only took a handful of plays to impose their will. New York started Petty for the second time in his career, and it initially looked like head coach Todd Bowles made the wrong choice.
The game began in ignominy for the Jets on both sides of the ball, as Petty was intercepted on the game’s second offensive play from scrimmage. The defense followed up that gaffe by allowing quarterback Colin Kaepernick to connect with running back Carlos Hyde on an eight-yard touchdown reception on the ensuing play. New York’s struggling defense began the game by allowing two San Francisco touchdowns on its first five plays, as they were getting embarrassed by a team entering the game with a mere victory.
But it was Petty who gathered the team – and a Gang Green defense that bent but never broke – that led the Jets (4-9) to the win. Petty reversed his fortunes as the game extended and was vital in erasing a 17-3 halftime deficit. His practice squad connections with Robbie Anderson paid off, as it was the rookie wideout who hauled in a gutsy 25-yard reception down to the Niners’ 26-yard line on New York’s only drive in overtime. The surprise deep ball set up Bilal Powell’s 19-yard game-winning, walk-off run to complete the comeback. Powell, who tallied 145 yards on 29 carries and two scores, was a sensational replacement for starting running back Matt Forte, who missed the second half with a knee injury.
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The fourth quarter and overtime was Petty time, though, as his cool play might’ve really won over his teammates, as he was responsible for an eight-play, 33-yard drive that spanned nearly two minutes and was capped by Nick Folk’s 50-yard field goal with 38 seconds remaining to push the game into overtime.
Petty’s clutch performance and grit showed he just may be ready to be the man, next season.
Metro takes a look back at other key storylines, as the Jets finally got back into the win column.
What We Saw:
1. Gang Green was somewhat back
Sure, it was against the lowly one-win 49ers, but they have professional athletes, too. And the fact that Gang Green stifled San Francisco in the second half and allowed just two first downs in the second half was impressive. The Niners gashed the Jets in the first half, but were stymied thereafter. The key was the adjustment they made to its run defense, as they cornered and corralled running back Carlos Hyde in the final two quarters and overtime. Hyde, who at one point had a 20-yards-per-carry average in the first half, could only muster 50 yards on the ground in the remaining time. Kaepernick (8-of-18 for 38 yards in the remaining three quarters and overtime) was also slowed down and wasn’t the same player after a torrid 7-of-7 start. Bowles has always deemed that effort or lack of pride wasn’t the reason for Gang Green’s malaise, but rather assignment football. And for at least five quarters, his team played their assignments correctly, showed some guts, and proved him right.
2. Run and Hyde
The Jets initially had trouble containing Hyde, as he notched a game-high 193 rushing yards and a touchdown. Hyde scored his only touchdown on an eight-yard grab on the Niners’ first play from scrimmage following Petty’s early interception. Although he started hot, tallying 141 rushing yards on just seven carries in the first half, he wasn’t as big a factor in the second half and overtime, including being stopped on a crucial 4th-and-1 at the Jets’ 37-yard line in overtime. That stuff led to the Jets’ eventual game-winning drive.
3. True grit
Petty got his second career start and at times looked like someone with little experience. But once he got into a groove, the second-year signal caller acquitted himself far better than is first career start. The fact he led the game-tying drive at the end of regulation and the game-winning drive in overtime showed the youngster’s moxie and grit. The Jets’ offense was stagnant at times under his charge, but that was to be expected for a guy with minimal opportunities at real game action. Including his first-career start against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 10 – a 9-6 loss – New York has looked inconsistent at times with Petty as the starter, but it’s apparent that even with his growing pains, he’s definitely the right choice going forward, as Todd Bowles and co. need to see what the youngster can do in actual games. The two-minute offense to send the game into an extra frame – and the fact he steered the Jets from a 17-3 halftime deficit -- should be a good indication that Petty can be a player in this league. Bowles himself begrudgingly gave the young quarterback minor props, calling his performance “up and down,” and remarking that Petty made “some dangerous throws.” But ultimately, Bowles knows he made the right decision in sacking Ryan Fitzpatrick for Petty.