ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — In what has been a gloomy season for the Jets, Sunday’s comeback win over the Bills gave Robby Anderson hope for the future of the franchise.
“It’s as bright as the summer sun,” Anderson said in the afterglow of the Jets’ first victory in nearly two months.
Anderson was limited in practice and questionable to play because of an ankle sprain that has bothered him for several weeks, but he turned in one of his best performances of the season in the Jets’ 27-23 victory.
Anderson made two pivotal plays during the Jets’ fourth-quarter comeback and had four receptions for 76 yards, his second-best output of the year.
Anderson found an opening in the end zone while Sam Darnold scrambled, and the third-year wideout caught a 7-yard pass that tied it at 20 with 12:06 left.
On the winning drive, Anderson won a one-on-one matchup with Buffalo’s top cornerback, Tre’Davious White, and made an over-the-shoulder catch along the right sideline for a 37-yard gain to the 5. That put the Jets in position for Elijah McGuire’s go-ahead TD run on fourth-and-goal from the 1.
“It means a lot to me, especially because it contributed to us winning,” Anderson said. “Of course you feel good to make those plays, but if we would’ve lost, it would not have felt as good. It feels great that we won the game and I got to contribute for us.”
He was impressed by Darnold’s ability to escape pressure and improvise on the touchdown pass, and by the rookie’s ball placement on the 37-yard connection, the Jets’ longest gain of the day.
“It was where only I could get it,” Anderson said. “It was basically a perfect pass.”
“Sam made a heck of a throw,” Todd Bowles said, “and Robby made a heck of a catch.”
The 37-yarder was Anderson’s longest play since a 76-yard touchdown pass from Darnold in a 34-16 win over the Broncos in Week 5. Anderson also caught a 35-yard TD pass in that game and totaled 123 yards.
In his next five games, he averaged only 37 receiving yards and did not score or make a catch for longer than 25 yards. He also sat out twice because of his ankle injury.
In the two games before Sunday’s contest, Anderson had six catches for 70 yards while Josh McCown filled in for the injured Darnold. Anderson missed the Jets’ 41-10 loss to the Bills in Week 10.
With three games left, Anderson has 31 receptions for 492 yards and four touchdowns, a major drop in production from a year ago, when he caught 63 passes for 941 yards and seven touchdowns in 16 games.
It’s significant that he’s forming a playmaking connection with the new franchise quarterback as Anderson approaches restricted free agency. He’s optimistic about the Jets’ trajectory with Darnold in command.
“It gives you hope for the future,” Anderson said. “He’s going to be a great football player. I’ve said that and I’ll stand on that. He fights. He works hard. You got to give him credit where it’s due.”