The New York Jets pulled off a Christmas miracle on December 26, 2021 — winning an NFL game against the Jacksonville Jaguars despite a COVID-19 outbreak and numerous key injuries or absences.
One major reason for the victory was rookie quarterback Zach Wilson, who operated as the dual-threat playmaker of fans’ dreams. Another was an unlikely hero, backup offensive tackle Conor McDermott.
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Big Man for 6
It was a bizarre game filled with some wild decision-making from interim head coach Ron Middleton. The Jets’ current HC went for it on fourth down five times and the offense actually converted three of them.
Unfortunately, the two they missed sacrificed six potential points in field goal tries.
On the fifth attempt of the game, Wilson extended a play as the pocket collapsed, tossing a floater on the run toward the corner of the end zone. The shocker? This one was caught by the 6-foot-8 lineman, who was an eligible receiver on the play.
The conversion wasn’t necessarily Wilson’s best play of the game, but it was his most important throw in the clutch. This touchdown put the Jets up 23-15 after the extra point.
After the game, Wilson smiled when asked about the big-man TD, before telling the media that it was “probably the highlight of [his] entire life so far.”
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Wilson Breaks Records as Jets Find Future WR1?
Even though the game ended up coming down to a defensive stop, this was a really nice holiday moment for the rookie QB and the journeyman lineman. It also turned into the eventual game-winning score.
When the big man came down with the football, Twitter lit up with reactions. New York Daily News reporter DJ Bien-Aime joked: “Conor McDermott = WR1.”
With all the injuries and COVID absences, this wasn’t too far from the truth. ESPN’s Rich Cimini also noted that he was “having [Jumbo Elliott] flashbacks.”
The Athletic’s Connor Hughes also got in on the fun. “No lie that was actually a really nice catch. Maybe give McDermott some more reps at [tight end].”
Former offensive lineman Damien Woody chimed in too, calling it a “FAT MAN TD.”
McDermott certainly deserved the hype he received, but Robby Sabo of Jets X-Factor gave the real credit to Wilson. “The TD was just Wilson buying time, the stuff that cannot be coached,” he tweeted.
The BYU product definitely displayed those raw traits on Sunday, running the ball for a record-setting 91 total QB yards. Earlier in the game at 89, Cimini announced the new addition to the Jets’ history books.
“Wilson (89 rush yards) currently has the franchise record for QBs in a single game. Darnold had 84 last year against the Broncos,” he wrote.
His highlight-reel play of the game was an improvised 52-yard scramble after escaping a sack in the first quarter — another franchise record. At the end of the run, Wilson even juked a Jaguars defender to make it into the end zone.
The rookie didn’t have to throw much in Week 16, finishing with 102 passing yards on 22 attempts, but he did combine for a 273-yard rushing day with Michael Carter and Tevin Coleman. The rookie running back led the way with 118 yards after a 38-yard long late in the game.
Most importantly, Wilson did enough to win the game with zero household names at wide receiver and some replacements on the offensive line. Through the air? On the ground? All that matters is a victory.