By Jeff Moeller, the New York Extra/thenyextra.com
As Seinfeld’s Kramer once said, “It’s a Festivus miracle.”
Festivus is officially Wednesday, but the Jets celebrated their perceived version of a Festivus miracle Sunday night.
At least that was the general impression of a destined winless team finally winning a game.
There is more below the surface. A Jets’ core helped resurrect a sense of security.
Sam Darnold, Frank Gore, Marcus Maye, Quinnen Williams, and Brandon Mann all played integral roles in the production.
There were others, too, all of whom made a mark already on the imprint of the 2021 season.
The Jets won their first football game since they defeated a playoff-resting Buffalo team, 13-6, last Dec. 29.
The Jets certainly didn’t like an 0-13 team for the better part of three quarters against the Rams, who sleepwalked through most of the same period, in their 23-20 upset victory.
Quarterback Sam Darnold had the time, looked poised in the pocket, and effectively moved out of it when he had to. His offensive line looked like a seasoned unit that kept sack lead Larry Donald sackless and toyed with the league’s top-ranked unit all afternoon and allowed two overall meaningless sacks.
Darnold’s 22-for-231, 207-yards, one touchdown day isn’t a staggering performance, but one steady enough to reassure the Jets and their fans that he can still be the quarterback of the future.
If Jacksonville doesn’t win any of their last two games, the Jets get the number two pick at best. Goodbye Trevor Lawrence, Hello again Darnold.
Gore has been the miracle man all season. The 37-year-old continues to run like the 26-year-plow even if he averaged less than three yards a carry against the Rams (23 carries. 59 yards). He did plow forward on a 1-yard TD plunge, and made the game-clinching third-down catch to seal the win.
It’s unlikely he will be back in 2021, but Gore has provided enough timely plays for a sputtering offense. He can be a constant in a newly constructed backfield next season.
Maye has been the captain of the team and the defense from his safety position. He has produced a Pro Bowl-type season, and again made a game-saving play when he tipped away an apparent game-winning touchdown. He was beaten earlier for a score that brought the Rams to 23-17, and he batted away a ball that he apparently could have grabbed for an interception.
Maye will be an unrestricted free agent next season, and GM Joe Douglas should resign him.
Williams, was having the type of afternoon Darnold was expected to have, as the second-year tackle thrived all game from the nose position.
He was a run-stopper on Rams’ rookie back Cam Akers until Williams left the game late with a concussion. After Williams left, Akers found some holes and had an 18-yard g0-ahead touchdown run called back because of a holding penalty.
If Williams is done for the season, it will mark a temporary stoppage to the kind of consistent play the jets had expected from him.
Mann has been an unsung hero all season. The rookie punter made an open-field tackle on go-ahead punt return score in the fourth quarter, and averaged nearly 45 yards a kick. For the season, Mann is among the bottom of the punters statistically, but he can provide stability for quite some time.
Add San Ficken’s return with three field goals that brings back consistency along with Bryce Hall’s and Nathan Shepherd’s contributions on defense.
This wasn’t just about the team’s first win, or possibly being ousted from the Lawrence sweepstakes. It reminded everyone about some solidity for the future.
The Jets proved Sunday in LA that they aren’t as dreadful as once thought. And this isn’t a Seinfeld skit.
It’s just a matter of confidently executing those miracles away.