Jets get ‘bittersweet’ victory over Colts, look to improve
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The New York Jets have consecutive wins for the first time in more than a year, and they’re feeling good about getting back to .500.
The way they got there, though, was far from satisfying. And it has them motivated to improve.
“It’s one of those bittersweet victories,” cornerback Morris Claiborne said after the Jets’ 42-34 win over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday . “You played well enough to win the game, but you feel like you could’ve played a lot better. You never want to give up that many points.”
Jason Myers kicked a franchise-record seven field goals, Sam Darnold threw two touchdown passes, and the Jets (3-3) intercepted Andrew Luck three times in the win. They had to hold, though, against a Colts team that was never out of it.
But Jets coach Todd Bowles is fairly certain his squad would not have left the field with a victory when faced with this type of game in the past.
“The game wasn’t perfect, by no means,” Bowles said. “With the growth of the team, we probably would’ve lost this one a year ago or a couple of weeks ago. So, to win ugly, for us, is a pretty good thing.”
Just two weeks ago, the Jets were facing the prospect of their season spiraling after their third straight loss.
They have scored 76 points in their last two games, victories over the Colts and Denver Broncos, with at least 30 points in back-to-back games for the first time since the 2011 season.
“It just shows what we can do when we’re doing things the right way and when we’re executing,” said Jermaine Kearse, who caught a season-high nine passes for 94 yards.
The Jets closed the game with scores on each of their last eight drives. They also scored multiple times in every quarter, including a 23-point first half — the most by the team since scoring 27 against Tennessee in 2015.
The one criticism is that the Jets mostly failed to convert in the red zone, going 1 of 6 inside the Colts 20. Several drives stalled, resulting in all those opportunities for Myers.
Myers’ 24 total points are the second-highest single-game total by a player who did not score a touchdown in NFL history. Only the Titans’ Rob Bironas, who holds the mark with eight field goals in a game, had more: 26 on Oct. 21, 2007.
“Obviously, we want to finish in the red zone,” Darnold said. “That’s what we pride ourselves on.”
The Jets hadn’t won back-to-back games since they won three straight in Weeks 3-5 last season. Next Sunday, they’ll wrap up a three-game homestand against Minnesota with a chance to go over .500.
“We’re definitely back in the thick of things,” said Darnold, who had two touchdown passes and an interception. “But at the same time, we’re not satisfied.”
Here are some other things to know from the Jets’ victory over the Colts:
Indianapolis (1-5) has lost four straight and was again victimized by mistakes — namely dropped passes and turnovers .
Andrew Luck was 23 of 43 for 301 yards with touchdowns to Marcus Johnson, Eric Ebron, Erik Swoope and Chester Rogers. But he was also intercepted three times, including a pick-6 by Claiborne on the Colts’ second play from scrimmage.
It all had Luck pondering whether it’s tough finding the joy in football.
“At times, especially when I do things — stupid is the only word that comes to mind,” he said. “We do some silly things to ourselves, but when it comes to having fun playing, I’m having fun playing.”
The Colts played without several starters, including wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, defensive linemen Denico Autry and Margus Hunt, tight end Jack Doyle, safety Clayton Geathers and right tackle Denzelle Good. They might be down a few more players as running back Robert Turbin (shoulder) and wide receivers Johnson and Ryan Grant all left with injuries.
New York could also have its own injury woes. Wide receiver Quincy Enunwa (ankle) was seen with a walking boot after the game, while fellow receiver Terrelle Pryor left with a groin injury. Starting safety Marcus Maye also has a thumb injury and was wearing a cast while leaving the locker room.
The Jets forced four takeaways — three INTs, one fumble — against the Colts, making them the only team with at least two games this season with at least that many in each.
New York scored 20 points off the four turnovers Sunday, and has 15 takeaways for the season.
“Takeaways solve a lot of problems,” Bowles said. “There are some things we have to fix, but takeaways aren’t one of them.”
The 50th anniversary of the Jets’ 1968 team that won the Super Bowl behind Joe Namath was celebrated this weekend , first at a dinner Saturday night and then during a halftime ceremony at MetLife Stadium.
Several Jets players said they were inspired by meeting those players, who are still the only team in franchise history to play on the NFL’s biggest stage.
“I shook the hands of legends,” Claiborne said.
Jets defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers has not been coaching the last two weeks while dealing with an unspecified illness, but was on the field before the game and watched from a box in the stadium.
Bowles said he was “a casual observer,” and it’s uncertain when Rodgers might return to his role of calling the defense. The assistant coach was in the locker room after the game and broke down the team’s locker-room huddle after the victory.
“Just seeing him walking is a blessing,” Claiborne said.