The Jets had a lot on their minds and something to prove, and they played like a team on a mission.
They were angry at themselves for how they played last week in Jacksonville. They had defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers, who is away from the team because of a health issue, in their thoughts. And they basically had their season riding on what happened Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
The Jets showed up big time on both sides of the ball. They became the big-play Jets in a 34-16 beatdown of the Broncos that snapped a three-game losing streak.
“We finally got to the point where enough was enough,” defensive end Leonard Williams said.
“We needed it bad,” linebacker Avery Williamson said. “We went too long without a win.”
The bounce-back win was impressive after the Jets gave up 503 yards in a 19-point loss to the Jaguars. After a slow start, everything clicked for the Jets (2-3) in the opener of a three-game homestand.
Isaiah Crowell rushed for a franchise-record 219 yards on only 15 carries and had a game-changing 77-yard touchdown run. Sam Darnold threw touchdown passes of 76 and 35 yards to Robby Anderson. The Jets totaled 512 yards of offense, their most since 2013. Their 323 yards rushing were the second-most in franchise history.
Todd Bowles handled the play-calling duties for Rodgers and had a terrific game. The defense applied pressure on Case Keenum all day and sacked him four times. Williams (two sacks) had one and was in on two others. The Jets also held the NFL’s second-ranked rushing team to 92 yards on the ground.
The game ended with Marcus Maye intercepting a pass in the end zone and taking it 104 yards, but he was tackled at the 1-yard line as time expired.
“Everybody took this game just a little bit more personal, just because of the situation going on with coach Kacy,” Morris Claiborne said.
The Jets also took it personally because of what happened last week. They said they would respond and they did — and in a resounding way.
“We’re capable of winning a lot of games,” Darnold said after the first three-touchdown game of his career. “Every single week we’re going to look to win and have that fiery passion that we had today.”
Darnold finished 10-for-22 for 198 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. His third scoring strike was a 20-yarder to Terrelle Pryor. Anderson, who had only eight receptions for 108 yards coming in, caught three passes for 123 yards.
Crowell’s 14.6-yard average per carry is the most in a game in NFL history, with a minimum of 15 carries. He totaled 231 yards from scrimmage. The Jets almost had a second 100-yard rusher as Bilal Powell finished with 99 yards on 20 carries.
“It means a lot to me,” Crowell said of the record. “I just want to congratulate my O-line because without them, I wouldn’t be able to do that.”
The Jets were down 7-0 after Keenum threw his first TD pass since Week 1, connecting with DaeSean Hamilton for an 8-yard score in the first quarter. The three-play drive was set up by Powell’s first fumble on a running play in his eight-year career.
But the Jets started to take control of the game with a 21-point second quarter. On the Jets’ first play from scrimmage in the second quarter, Crowell broke free for his long touchdown run that tied the score at 7. Anderson’s 76-yard catch on the Jets’ next drive made it 14-7.
It was only the third time the Jets had two scoring plays of at least 75 yards in the same game. The last time it happened was in 1972, when Joe Namath threw TD passes of 79 and 80 yards to Rich Caster.
“I love big plays like that,” Anderson said. “I feel like that play alone gave us a lot of energy, a big spark to the game.”
After the Broncos (2-3) closed to 14-10 on Brandon McManus’ 30-yard field goal, the Jets scored 20 unanswered points.
Darnold threw another beautiful ball to Anderson, this time in the end zone for a 35-yard touchdown that made it 21-10 with 1:13 left in the half.
Crowell had a 54-yard run on the first play from scrimmage of the third quarter, but Darnold’s pass on third-and-11 from the Broncos’ 35 was tipped and picked off by Derek Wolfe.
But the Jets’ defense made a big stand as Williams sacked Keenum on third down. The Jets went ahead by two touchdowns, 24-10, on their next series as Jason Myers capped a 13-play drive with a 49-yard field goal. Another field goal by Myers and Pryor’s touchdown reception gave the Jets a 34-10 lead.
“We really needed it,” Williams said. “We had three losses in a row, but last game was the first game I’d say we really got beat. To come out and play lights out, it was huge for the team.”