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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Christian D'Andrea

The Jets’ Aaron Rodgers-less, walk-off overtime win was the most chaotic way to start the NFL season

It’s possible 2023’s NFL game of the year heavily involved Zach Wilson. On the other side of the ball? A perennial MVP candidate and his four turnovers.

The New York Jets staged an unlikely comeback without Aaron Rodgers, knocking off a disheveled Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills 22-16 in overtime. An overtime forced by a doinked-in 50-yard field goal and ended by a 65-yard punt return touchdown by an undrafted free agent rookie (and aided by a blown tripping call).

So yes, the first Monday Night Football game of the year wasn’t a good one, but it was a great one. Chaos reigned for roughly 60 minutes of game play. Let’s go over how it unfolded, step-by-step.

Aaron Rodgers' Jets debut ended after four snaps

Rodgers’ three dropbacks resulted in negative-five net yards. A bullying Bills pass rush pressured him throughout his brief spell behind center, dropping him for a 10-yard loss on his fourth snap in green and white.

This was his last snap of the night. After being helped off the field, he was carted to the locker room and x-rayed. While those x-rays were negative, he was still ruled out for the game, turning the reins over to deposed starter Zach Wilson. This was Robert Saleh’s approximate reaction to the whole ordeal.

Josh Allen failed to capitalize

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Cornerback D.J. Reed suggested the Bills could have a historic defense in 2023. Nothing they did Monday night dissuaded that notion. While Stefon Diggs found space in single coverage — understandable, as he’s Stefon Diggs — the rest of Buffalo’s receivers and running backs combined for 134 receiving yards on 26 targets. That’s a paltry 5.2 yards per throw from Josh Allen, a player who has finished in the top three of MVP voting in two of the last three seasons.

This was not the end of Allen’s struggles. Safety Jordan Whitehead haunted him all night to the tune of three interceptions. He was five of 13 on third down, equally as efficient as Wilson’s Jets offense. If not for Rodgers’ injury, Allen’s talent snatching at the hands of the Mon-Stars would be the lead on SportsCenter Tuesday morning.

Zach Wilson looked very much like Zach Wilson

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Wilson’s stats will suggest he was more or less an average quarterback Monday night. This is incorrect. While the third year pro had some nice throws, he also had several bonehead moments. He scrambled into traffic. He ran backwards 10-plus yards in hopes of avoiding trouble. He threw a truly awful interception.

He showed up in moments and didn’t give the game away. That was important, as we’ll see he wasn’t really given the chance to.


Garrett Wilson bailed out a bad Wilson throw with a catch of the year candidate for a touchdown

Wilson went from wideout to cornerback to wideout all in the span of roughly 1.5 seconds here. It’s beautiful — and it tied the game.

Josh Allen nearly butt fumbled and Mark Sanchez noticed

The Jets got the ball back on the very next possession after Allen dropped a snap, tried to run, bashed into his own lineman and put the ball on the turf.

It wasn’t quite butt fumble embarrassing, but Mark Sanchez wasn’t about to let that slide when it happened on his old home turf.

The Jets refused to take any chances with a possession deep in Bills territory

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

New York picked up Allen’s fumble at the Bills’ 27-yard line. These are the plays Robert Salah called from there:

  • run
  • run
  • run
  • run
  • run
  • run
  • run
  • 30-yard field goal.

This is how things get done when you’ve got Wilson back behind center.

Josh Allen rode Stefon Diggs into field goal range before a glorious, successful doink

Diggs had 40 of his 102 receiving yards in the final minute of regulation. This set up a 50-yard Tyler Bass kick with six seconds to play. It was centimeters away from disaster.

Finally, undrafted rookie Xavier Gipson took matters into his own hands and ended the game; no Zach Wilson required

Was it a great punt return? Absolutely.

Was it a legal one? Hah, no.

But hey, tripping is only a penalty if the referees call it. Congratulations, Jets. You somehow pulled it off. What a way to start the season.

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