Jets' Corners Overcome Wilson's Meltdown
By Neil Cohen
Before the Buffalo game, the main question with the Jets’ secondary was how rookie Dee Millner would bounce back from his benching in the loss to New England. But after the Jets’ 27-20 home win what needed to be asked was “What happened with Kyle Wilson?”
The Jets’ cornerbacks did a solid job against the Buffalo wide receivers. Stevie Johnson, who used to give even all-pro Darrelle Revis fits, didn’t get his first reception until late in the second quarter and finished with six catches for 86 yards. But he never had a reception longer than 23 yards and didn’t break away into the open field.
The Jets’ defense put pressure on rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel, and Antonio Cromartie and Wilson were part of the effort.
But Johnson got into Wilson’s head, and it could’ve cost the Jets the game. The fourth-year player started Sunday as Millner was kept on the bench. Johnson and Wilson had been talking trash during the game, and it boiled over on the first drive of the fourth quarter. Wilson got lucky on a defensive-holding call on third-and 6 when Johnson taunted him to get offsetting penalties. The next three plays weren’t as fortunate. Wilson had an illegal contact and two more personal foul calls to keep Buffalo’s drive alive. Wilson was taken out, and the Bills wound up tying the score. The Jets won the game despite an incredible 20 penalties, so Wilson’s meltdown will just be considered a blip. Coach Rex Ryan didn’t seem too angry and put Wilson back in the game.
“Heat of battle, some things happen,” Ryan said. “We needed to get him out of there, sit back, think about it, calm down, and that’s exactly what we did and he came back and entered the game. ... He let a personal thing affect him...that's a mistake"
Wilson said, “Rex wanted to cool me off. Everyone was just telling me that I needed to have a short memory. I play physical out there, but Rex just wanted to cool me off, that’s all that was.”
There was not much to worry about with the other corners, since even if a receiver was open, Manuel struggled to hit them. Cromartie, who had one interference penalty, led the Jets with five tackles, forced a fumble and had one of the big stops of the game. With the Jets holding a 7-0 lead, missed tackles allowed the Bills’ Fred Jackson to break free. Cromartie, who has had hip problems, kept up pursuit until he stopped Jackson on a 59-yard run, short of the end zone. Buffalo settled for a field goal, setting the tone until the Wilson series. As for Millner, he only was in for a quarter of the plays, but was mistake-free.
"I liked the way Dee responded," Ryan said. "I thought he played well." Now it’s up to the Jets’ corners to respond to a tougher challenge when they face Jake Locker and the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. Locker, who threw for 299 yards, is more experienced than Manuel. There will be no room for a meltdown or rookie mistakes.