13 seconds remaining in the game, the Las Vegas Raiders and their quarterback Derek Carr took to the air with a guided missile to rookie wide receiver Henry Ruggs III to down the winless New York Jets at their home in East Rutherford, New Jersey for a final score of 31-28 after the extra point.
The Jets with 5:34 in the 4th quarter took the lead 28-24 on a 1-yard Ty Johnson touchdown run. Following that lead change their defense came up with a huge stop on a fourth-down from the Jets’ own nine-yard line with 1:42 that fell short and incomplete from Carr to Nelson Agholor. The favored Raiders turned over the ball and seemingly put the Jets in position for their first win of the season. The Jets needing a first-down to run out the clock, as the Raiders used their remaining timeouts, went three-and-out and punted. Las Vegas had the ball on their own 39-yard line with :35 left in the game down four points where they had to get in the end zone as a field goal would not win the game of force overtime. Derek Car connected with tight end Darren Waller, who had a career day, for 14 yards but with the clock still running the Raiders rushed to the line to spike the ball and stop the clock. The following play from the Jets own 46-yard line Carr unloads and overthrows Agholor into the back of the end zone. Now third-down and ten with :13, Carr recognizing the defense pressure pre-snap switched formation to seven-man protection which also brought in Darren Waller to block or chip pass rushers despite his stellar day of 13 catches for 200 yards and 2 touchdowns. The decision proved to be the right call as Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams called a cover-zero blitz which rushes eight defenders and leaves three defenders in man-to-man coverage with no safety help to protect the deep middle. The Jets secondary consisted of two rookie cornerbacks and four year veteran safety Marcus Maye all playing man coverage on that final offensive play of the Raiders. One of the New York rookie corners was undrafted Lamar Jackson, not to be confused with NFL MVP Ravens quarterback of the same name, who was tasked to cover Henry Ruggs III, the Vegas 2020 #1 draft pick from Alabama who also ran a lightning 4.27-second 40-yard dash at the NFL rookie combine. Needless to say, it didn’t end well for the Jets as their rookie was outpaced without help as the ball dropped in to the wide open Ruggs III for the game winning touchdown. Credit to Jackson, who in his fifth start at the position at the NFL level, accepted blame in that game situation for not executing but many feel it was the wrong play call including team captain Marcus Maye who was critical post-game adding “We have to execute, but you have to help us out at the same time,” Maye said, per The Athletic’s Conner Hughes. If the pressure got there it would’ve been a different story and the Jets would have their first win, despite some Jets fans wanting the loss for draft positioning, and the Raiders would have had a second consecutive crushing loss following their disastrous 43-6 loss to then 3-8 Atlanta Falcons. The Jets final defensive play call would ultimately be the last for Gregg Williams as he was fired today after the controversial blitz.
THE CONTROVERSIAL BLITZ CALL
Examining the Jets final defensive play call per ESPN’s Stats and Info, @ESPNStatsInfo on twitter.
“The Jets made an unprecedented play call to end their game vs The Raiders
There were 252 pass plays meeting this criteria the last 15 seasons:
- Final 15 seconds of regulation
- Between a 4-8 point lead
- 40+ yards to the end zone
They were the first defense to send 6+ pass rushers in ^ situation”
THE NEW YORK JETS
Starting from the bottom and they are here. The New York Jets came into the contest 0-11 in unimpressive fashion as they lacked any shown consistency on offense or defense throughout the season. They have had their share of injuries throughout the year which included quarterback Sam Darnold who missed the previous two contests before last week’s Sunday, November 29th game hosting the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins game was the first game Darnold has played this year with his full set of healthy wide receivers, rookie Denzel Mims, Breshad Perriman, and Jamison Crowder where he was sacked 3 times, threw 2 interceptions, and no touchdowns. That performance led to some remaining Sam-believers in Jets’ fandom leaning towards wanting the team to move away from the third-year quarterback the organization invested a 2018 #3 overall draft pick in and look towards next year’s draft. The second game with his complement of receivers against the Raiders showed some of the usual flashes of his talent but came with the mistakes again as well. Darnold completed 14 of 23 passes for 186 yards, 2 touchdowns, a 2 point conversion, and an interception. On the ground, he rushed for 26 yards, 1 rushing touchdown, and lost two fumbles. Sammy and the Jets opened the game with an efficient 12-play, 74-yard drive that was a capped with a 3-yard touchdown toss to Jamison Crowder. It was the quarterback’s first touchdown pass since Week 3, granted he missed a couple of two-game stints with shoulder injuries while quarterback Joe Flacco took over. The Jets started strong with 2 scores in their first 3 possessions but closed out the half with 3 turnovers compliments of a risky Darnold throw for an interception and two strip-sack fumbles. The offense went scoreless in the 3rd quarter but Darnold in the 4th helped with his legs on a key first down and later a 4-yard touchdown run that culminated a 96-yard touchdown drive where the running of Ty Johnson made solid contributions. After the touchdown, the Jets were given a second chance attempt for a 2-point conversion after a pass-interference penalty and Sam converted it with a pass to Mims to get the Jets within 3 points with a score of 24-21 with 10:22 left in the game. After a great Jet defensive play, the offense got back on the field leading to a New York scoring drive that ended with a 1-yard Ty Johnson run giving Gang Green the lead 28-24 with 5:34 left. The J-E-T-S turned a 13 point 4th quarter deficit into a 4 point lead by scoring 15 unanswered points.
The Jets defense despite giving up 31 points in dramatic fashion did have it’s bright spots in it’s exposure. While the Jets had no answer for Raiders TE Darren Waller who had 8 receptions, 123 yards and 2 touchdowns in the first half alone, they kept the Raiders under 100 yards rushing for the entire game. The Raiders received the ball with :28 left in the 2nd quarter with 3 time outs but failed to score before the end of the half with Jets defensive lineman Neville Hewitt and Quinnen Williams sacking Carr on consecutive plays. In the 4th quarter the Jets needed a great defensive play to get back into the game and they got one from undrafted Javelin Guidry from Utah who forced a fumble from Henry Ruggs III which was recovered by Marcus Maye that got their offense back on the field with 8:45 left and the Jets down by 3. The offense on their end got the job done and gave the team the lead 28-24. The defense needed to continue making plays to secure the 1st win of the season for the 0-11 Jets. The defense got the Raiders to a fourth-down and 8 with 2:11 remaining on the Jets own 21-yard line but a holding call in the Jet secondary by Marcus Maye, which appeared to save against a touchdown, was called giving Las Vegas a fresh set of downs. Gang Green held the Raiders to another fourth-down situation with 1:49 left and it appeared to give up a touchdown pass from Carr to wide receiver Hunter Renfrow but holding on both teams led to offsetting penalties to replay the down. The Jets brought pressure and with good coverage had the backpedaling Carr throw short intended for Agholor ending their drive leaving the Jets up 4 points with 1:37 away from victory.
LAS VEGAS RAIDERS
The Raiders were without their star running back Josh Jacobs, inactive with an ankle sprain, and as a team they only managed a total of 72 yards on the ground against a middle of the pack New York Jets run defense. In replacement of Jacobs, running back Devontae Booker got the start and gained 50 yards on 16 carries and added only 1 yard on his lone reception from 2 targets. The running game was ineffective early as their longest run of the first half was for 5 yards by Julien Rashard but that was quickly addressed on the first play of the second half for Las Vegas with Booker running for a 14 yard gain. The Raiders got the damage done through the air and with Derek Carr and his favorite target of the day tight end Darren Waller. It was a statistical career day for Waller who totaled 13 catches on 17 targets for 200 yards and 2 touchdowns. The porous Jets defense could not stop him as he carved them up for large gains. Derek Carr had himself a game as well completing 28 of 47 passes for 381 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception that was a drop off the hands by Henry Ruggs III. The game was a stark contrast to his previous performance against the Atlanta Falcons where he went 22 of 34 for 215 yards, 0 touchdowns, 1 interception to go along with 3 lost fumbles as well. He had a bounce back game in dramatic fashion with what proved to be the deciding score, a 46-yard touchdown reception to the speedy Ruggs III with :05 remaining. That pass helped Ruggs III find some redemption as well after his dropped pass earlier in the game that turned into an interception plus a fourth quarter fumble. Derek Carr for his career now has 23 game winning drives which is second to only Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford’s 26 for active quarterbacks.
The defense performed better than the previous week where it gave up 43 points to the Atlanta Falcons. Carr’s four turnovers contributed to the defensive unit being put in bad field positions and allowing the Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and their talented kicker Younghoe Koo to light up the scoreboard. During the contest with the Jets they allowed Sam Darnold to throw a pair of touchdowns to Jamison Crowder and run in a score himself. They allowed New York to have their 1st 100-yard rusher on the year with Ty Johnson carrying the ball 22 times for 104 yards and a score. While they gave up 28 points to the Jets they were able to keep the game within reach with big plays in the turnover battle. Raiders defensive end Clein Ferrell had not one but two strip sacks on Darnold giving their offense back the ball. Cornerback Trayvon Mullen also contributed when he hauled in an interception which stopped a Jets drive in Raiders territory with 3:04 left in the second half. The biggest win for the silver and black defense was forcing the Jets to punt after a three-and-out series that started with 1:37 left in the 4th quarter. That final defensive series for the Raiders allowed them to give their offense the ball with 35 seconds left to try and win the game.
The 0-12 New York Jets travel to Seattle to play the 8-4 Seahawks. They will get to face former Jet Jamal Adams for the first time since trading him this offseason.
The 7-5 Las Vegas Raiders travel to Indianapolis to play the 8-4 Colts. The Raiders with their playoff hopes still alive face one of the best defenses in the league.
Photo by Daniel Álvasd on Unsplash