LANDOVER, Md. — Nearly two years removed from a devastating knee injury that nearly ended his career, Teddy Bridgewater wanted to see what it would feel like to get hit during a game. So, when it did happen in Thursday night’s preseason matchup against the Redskins, it was a relief.
Not so much for coach Todd Bowles, though.
“Fortunately for him and unfortunately for me, he wanted to get hit some,” Bowles said. “I told him that I have a neighborhood where he can get hit quite a bit if he wants to get hit.”
Bowles may have been referencing the rough neighborhood where he grew up in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and Bridgewater understood his coach’s concern about limiting the hits he took on Thursday. But it still felt good to get hit — and get up.
“Some of those plays, I told him, ‘Coach, I know to throw the ball away,’ but for me, I just wanted to get hit,” said Bridgewater, who played the entire second half after taking over for rookie Sam Darnold. “I don’t know if it’s the right thing to do or say as a quarterback, but for me, it’s continuing to knock down that mental block that hey, you can do this. You just don’t know the past two years, sitting on the sidelines, not knowing what’s going on.”
Bridgewater suffered a torn ACL during practice two years ago with the Vikings, and there were fears that he might never play again. After missing the entire 2016 season, he returned for a game late in 2017. Bridgewater signed a one-year deal with the Jets in the offseason.
“Some of those plays [against Washington] I could have thrown the ball or run out of bounds, but I wanted to challenge myself, see if I could take a hit,” Bridgewater said. “It was fun. Get up, smile, tell the guys, ‘Hey, that was nothing,’ next play.”
Playing against the Redskins’ backups, Bridgewater was 10 of 15 for 127 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He led the Jets’ only touchdown drive in the fourth quarter, finishing it off with a 16-yard scoring throw to Charone Peake. The Jets briefly took a 13-12 lead on Trevor Bertolet’s 21-yard field goal with 1:52 left in the fourth quarter, but the Redskins won it, 15-13, on Dustin Hopkins’ 40-yard field goal as time expired.