CLEVELAND — Garrett Wilson was kicking himself for dropping a third-down pass in the fourth quarter, and still would have been if the Jets hadn’t won in spectacular fashion — with a lot of help from the rookie receiver.
Wilson starred in his second NFL game and made up for his drop in major fashion in the Jets’ 31-30 victory over the Browns on Sunday.
He had eight catches for 102 yards and two touchdowns, including the winning score with 22 seconds to go after the Jets recovered an onside kick.
“I went crazy. I went absolutely crazy on the sideline,” Wilson said. “I didn’t want my drop to be the reason that we lost the game.”
It wasn’t, thanks to a total team effort. Special teams made the big recovery. The defense had an interception to put the game away. The offense had a strong showing, with Wilson looking nothing like a rookie.
“He has that Justin Jefferson vibe,” cornerback D.J. Reed said.
The No. 10 overall pick in the 2022 draft, Wilson was back in familiar territory on Sunday. He lived in Columbus, Ohio, until he was 11 and played for Ohio State.
Wilson had lots of family and friends in the building — at least 25 of them — and many others who used to cheer for him in college.
It was important to Wilson that he had this type of game in Cleveland and that the Jets won after the offense struggled in last week’s season-opening loss to Baltimore.
“The win’s number one,” Wilson said. “This is a great environment, great team we played against, great defense. As an offense, we wanted to make a statement. We didn’t feel like we played well last week. We wanted to make a statement.
“To be out here and playing in front of a lot of people I played in front of the past three, four years was definitely special to go along with it.”
The Jets said they wanted to play Wilson more and utilize him more Sunday, and they did.
He was targeted seven times in the first half. He caught his first NFL touchdown pass in the second quarter on a 2-yarder from Joe Flacco.
There was a scary moment midway through the third quarter, though, after Wilson leaped at the sideline in an attempt to catch a pass. He was hit and landed hard on his back, but he said there was never a thought of sitting out.
Wilson went back in and the Jets continued to go to him. He was targeted twice on the final drive. The Jets’ last two completions were to Wilson — a 12-yard gain and the 15-yard touchdown.
“He’s got grit,” Robert Saleh said. “He’s a dynamic football player. We all know that. He’s still trying to find his footing. His sky is the limit. Thought he did a really nice job today. He’s got a couple of things he’s got to clean up. He showed resolve, got that big touchdown at the end. He’s going to be a stud for a long time.”