PITTSBURGH (AP) — There was no doubt in Zach Wilson’s mind. None. And the second-year New York Jets quarterback had no interest in keeping his confidence to himself.
So, entering the group at the end of the fourth quarter on Sunday, the Jets dropped three points to a place the franchise had won only once in more than half a century of tries, Wilson has let it be known that he was not satisfied with a goal on the ground and a possibility of extra time.
Wilson leaned into the group and said simply, as running back Breece Hall said, “Let’s get a…touchdown.
Ten plays, 65 yards, a handful of heady throws from Wilson and an outstretched arm from Hall later, the Jets were in the end zone and a franchise that had been in place for years took another potentially big step forward with an unlikely 24- 20 win.
“It felt like the first time that as a striker we didn’t feel stagnant, we didn’t feel shy,” Wilson said. “Everyone was playing fast. Everyone was aware of the calls. It’s so much fun to play like that.
It certainly looked like that as the Jets staged their second massive return to the road in three weeks. Last month in Cleveland, it was Joe Flacco who pulled off an unlikely victory in the dying seconds as Wilson recovered from a preseason knee injury.
The first Sunday was Wilson – the de facto face of New York’s latest rebuild – spoiling Kenny Pickett’s Pittsburgh debut by making the kind of plays that only came sporadically if at all during his rookie season. extremely uneven in 2021.
Wilson expects 2022 to be different. That may be right after going 18 of 36 for 252 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions in his first action since August. Wilson also became the first quarterback in Jets history to catch a touchdown when he completed a 2-yard pass from Braxton Berrios in the second quarter of New York’s version of the Eagles-run “Philly Special.” at the Super Bowl.
“I have the best hands on the team,” Wilson said with a laugh.
He’s joking. Those hands — at least against the Steelers — may have belonged to defensive back Michael Carter II, whose diving interception with 3:34 remaining gave Wilson and company a chance to win for only the second time in 12 visits to Pittsburgh since 1970.
Wilson then calmly hit each of his next five passes to put Hall in position to win. The last two of the rookie fullback’s 66 yards came with his still choppy legs bringing him close enough to the end zone that he could stretch the ball across the goal line. Referees initially ruled Hall fumbled, a call that was overturned when replay showed Hall had broken the plane before the ball erupted.
“We still have that fight,” Hall said. “You know, we think we can come back from any deficit.”
It’s a sentiment the Steelers (1-3) have been looking for in a shaky opening month of the season. Trailing by four at halftime, coach Mike Tomlin made a move that has long seemed inevitable by putting Pickett in place of the erratic Mitch Trubisky.
The 20th overall pick in the draft showed why Pittsburgh was so high on him, becoming the first quarterback in NFL history to run for two touchdowns in his opener. The second was a 2-yard run that gave the Steelers (1-3) a 20-10 lead with 13:41 to go.
“I’m just playing with an advantage,” Pickett said. “It’s something I wanted to bring to the table. I do not like losing. It’s not a good feeling.
Tomlin declined to announce a starter for next week’s trip to Buffalo, though it’s hard to imagine him returning to Trubisky after Pickett provided a palpable jolt by completing 10 of 13 passes for 120 yards.
“I think he did some good things,” Tomlin said of Pickett. “I thought there was energy there.”
A few mistakes too. Pickett’s three incompletes ended up in the hands of the Jets, the last being a Hail Mary to the end zone that was snagged by New York safety Lamarcus Joyner – who had two interceptions – as time was flowing.
“Obviously there’s a culture shift,” Hall said. “More than I can say, I can see.”
New York: RT Max Mitchell came out with a knee injury late in the first half and did not return.
Pittsburgh: S Terrell Edmunds went into concussion protocol following a collision late in the first half and did not return. … DL Cam Heyward left on the final drive from New York with an apparent leg injury.
Jets: Head home to host rival AFC East Miami next Sunday. The Dolphins have dominated the series lately, winning eight of the last nine meetings.
Steelers: Travel to Buffalo next Sunday in hopes of replicating a Bills upset in the 2021 season opener.
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