Sports News

Jets deliver feel-good win they, fans deserve to enjoy

In the moment, everyone reacted precisely as they were supposed to. Jets players ran around the field at MetLife Stadium, celebrating a fourth victory in 15 games. The fans roared. In his hotel room, the head coach rejoiced. On the sidelines, the temporary head coach shook his fist and hugged his colleagues.

Jets 26, Jaguars 21.

The game film will not be forwarded to Canton, Ohio. The memories of this will fade quickly, mercifully. These were two terrible football teams playing each other, and one of them was going to win. But you know what? For this game, for this one day, it was good to see Jets, and Jets coaches, and Jets fans, happy.

It was good for them to have this moment: Jets 26, Jaguars 21.

“It was an awesome win,” said Ron Middleton, the tight ends coach who stepped in for Robert Saleh when Saleh tested positive for COVID-19 this past week. “I’m glad it worked out for us.”

It was impossible not to feel good for Middleton, who’s paid his dues for almost 20 years as a coach after playing for five NFL teams in 10 years out of Auburn. It was impossible not to feel good for Saleh, who appeared postgame in the team’s locker room via Zoom, who has worn so many other difficult Sundays on his face and on his shoulders.

It was impossible not to feel good for Zach Wilson, who ran for a touchdown and threw for another in the first of what promises to be many showdowns with Trevor Lawrence, the Nos. 1 and 2 picks in the 2021 draft saddled with bad teams and inconsistent play. Lawrence played well, too. But Wilson carried the day.

“You have to take advantage of opportunities,” Wilson said, “and do the best you can.”

Jets
Zach Wilson walks off the field after the Jets beat the Jaguars
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

And along those same lines, it was impossible not to feel good for Conor McDermott, all 6-foot-8 and 310 pounds of him, a tackle who caught Wilson’s TD pass on a fourth-down play that essentially allowed the Jets to walk off the field this Boxing Day feeling rewarded for taking multiple puncher’s chances at winning.

“My old tight end skills from high school came out,” the big man quipped.