This was a war of attrition at its finest. In a game where both teams came in with plenty of injuries, even more players were forced into early exits on a field that has caught plenty of flak in recent weeks.
The Denver Broncos ended up outlasting the New York Jets for their first win of the season. In a sense, the Jets got their own win as they remain the favorites for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and a shot at a fresh start with presumably a new head coach and their quarterback of the future.
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STORY OF THE GAME
With the aid of plenty of penalties from the Jets, Brett Rypien made enough plays in his first NFL start to secure the win for Denver. There were certainly high points — including a dime in the back of the end zone to Tim Patrick for his second touchdown pass of the game — but Rypien also made a handful of plays that reminded you this was a quarterback one year removed from being an undrafted free agent out of Boise State. Rypien ended the game with three interceptions. And, in all honesty, the first touchdown pass he threw in the game to Jerry Jeudy was underthrown and should have been intercepted by Pierre Desir.
Desir was at the center of a lot of the action with one of the stranger games you’ll see at cornerback. Early on, he got Mossed by Jeudy for that 48-yard touchdown, and Denver seemed to have clear intentions of picking on him. He allowed over 100 receiving yards and multiple touchdowns on passes into his coverage in the game. Desir also picked Rypien off twice — once with impressive footwork on the sideline on an attempted throwaway and once on a play that resulted in six points the other way.
It seemed as if those late mistakes from Rypien — crowned by an intentional grounding penalty that extended the go-ahead field goal attempt beyond 50 yards for Brandon McManus — might leave the door open for New York. Sam Darnold was not able to lead the Jets back for that elusive victory, though. With plenty of tough games on the horizon, it’s hard to say when the Jets’ next chance at a win will come.
All of the injuries in this game meant that plenty of rookies saw the field.
Jerry Jeudy made one of the plays of the night for the Broncos when he Mossed Jets cornerback Pierre Desir for a 48-yard touchdown. He ended up taking a backseat tonight to Tim Patrick, but it was still a solid performance for Denver’s first-round pick. Jeudy will continue to play a large role in this passing offense with Courtland Sutton sidelined for the year and both K.J. Hamler and Noah Fant leaving this game with injury. Hamler played just 11 offensive snaps before exiting the game.
Lloyd Cushenberry has had some rough performances of late in pass protection, and this was yet another one. Dealing with quickness on the inside has stood out as an issue early for the rookie center. His most impressive play of the night may have been when he broke up what looked to be an interception on a pass batted at the line of scrimmage. That’s not your typical highlight from a center.
The rookie starter on the opposing offensive line — Mekhi Becton — came into the game with a shoulder injury, which kept him from finishing the game. It didn’t look like he should have been out there at all to begin with. Hopefully it isn’t a lingering issue because Becton has played as well as any rookie tackle in the NFL through the early stages of this season.
Lawrence Cager made an appearance in a very thin Jets receiving corps but did little of note on just six routes. At running back, La’Mical Perine (10 offensive snaps) was well behind both Frank Gore (35 snaps) and Kalen Ballage (25 snaps) in the rotation. He did see five carries, which was five more than Ballage got in the game, however.
In the Broncos secondary, Michael Ojemudia and Essang Bassey both saw extensive playing time. Neither had a tremendous game, but you feel better coming out of this game about Ojemudia’s performance than you do Bassey’s. He gave up a few receptions inside while tasked with covering Jamison Crowder. Meanwhile, McTelvin Agim and Derrek Tuszka both were a small part of Denver’s rotation along the defensive front, but there weren’t many splash plays between them.
Lamar Jackson and Bryce Huff round out the list of rookie defenders to see playing time in this one for New York. On initial count, Huff recorded two quarterback pressures and Jackson was charged with three receptions allowed into his coverage.
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