The New York Jets ruined their big London trip with another slow start. There were three-and-outs, an interception, key penalties, no sacks.
The Jets came in against the Atlanta Falcons with high hopes after Zach Wilson gave a star performance last week. But the rookie quarterback’s London debut was a dud and the Falcons won 27-20 on Sunday at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
The Jets (1-4) gained just 80 yards in the first half, getting five first downs compared to the Falcons’ 251 yards and 17 first downs in the first two quarters.
“Starting three-and-out isn’t the way to do it, sitting on the sideline,” Wilson said. “We can’t keep trying to come from behind. The NFL is too hard to always come from behind.”
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The second drive was a three-and-out as well, and the next ended in an interception — Wilson’s league-leading ninth.
The pass wasn’t like one of the long balls he completed last week against the Tennessee Titans in a 27-24 overtime win that showed why the Jets made Wilson the No. 2 overall draft pick. He missed Keelan Cole on a open deep ball that was picked off by Jaylinn Hawkins.
“Obviously, the frustration of just, you know what, screw it, I’m going rip this ball to the sideline and he’s wide open,” Wilson said. “It wasn’t a bad decision. He was wide open, and I’ve just got to make a better throw, whatever it is, I’ve got to come out and be ready to rip this thing. I can’t be hesitant on any of those throws.”
It was already 17-0 at that point and the Falcons were driving again when Hayden Hurst caught a pass but fumbled at the Jets 13 when C.J. Mosley punched the ball loose and Michael Carter II recovered it.
Only then did the Jets move the ball, driving to Atlanta’s 16 before stalling on two incompletions and a short gain on third down. Matt Ammendola got them on the board with a 31-yard field goal with 2:18 left in the half.
The Jets got second-half rushing TDs from Ty Johnson and Michael Carter.
Carter’s 2-yard run and Jamison Crowder’s catch on the 2-point conversion trimmed Atlanta’s lead to 20-17 with 6:55 remaining.
But the Falcons completed a long drive with Mike Davis’ 3-yard run to extend the lead to 27-17 with 2:19 to play.
Too little, too late.
“I’ve got to come out and throw that thing, make the right reads,” Wilson said. “I just missed some throws. I can’t come out and miss throws, and not throws that are hard.”
Wilson finished 19 of 32 for 192 yards and no touchdowns with one interception.
After seven sacks last week, the Jets couldn’t get to Matt Ryan, who threw for 342 yards and two touchdowns.
Jets coach Robert Saleh said Wilson needs to trust himself “when bullets are flying.”
“It’s very easy to stand at the driving range and hit 300-yard drives,” Saleh said. “It’s, can you do it when you’re on the tee box and there’s water to your left and sand to your right? And that’s just something that he’s got to work on that’s something the coaches have to work on and everybody has to work on.
“And when he hits it,” Saleh continued, “it’s going to be pretty cool when it does. But obviously it comes back to eye placement, progression, footwork — everything we’ve been talking about over the last couple weeks.”
Mosley, who played all 100 defensive snaps against the Titans last week, took responsibility for some of Atlanta’s easy completions in the first half.
“Just have to, you know, like I said, look ourselves in the mirror,” Mosley said, “and figure what we have to do.”