The visual of New York Jets QB Aaron Rodgers leading the team onto the field while carrying an American flag was an emotional and moving moment, as two New York teams faced off on the 22nd Anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, at MetLife stadium, just 12 miles from where the tragedy occurred. It appeared that millions of others recognized how special of a moment this was, as 22.6 million viewers tuned in to watch the Jets take on the Bills, the highest number ever recorded in Monday Night Football history.
With the addition of former MVP and future Hall-of-Famer Aaron Rodgers to the team, the Jets looked poised to make the playoffs for the first time since 2010, but disaster struck when the star quarterback went down less than 5 minutes into the game. Suddenly, the eager, roaring crowd were silenced as the reality set in that they may be without their big acquisition for the duration of the season.
The offense struggled to get behind backup QB and former No. 2 pick Zach Wilson, falling behind 13-3 against the Bills at halftime. In the second half, a rejuvenated Jets roster would still struggle to put points on the board, but through the defense’s stellar play and an other-worldly catch by wide receiver Garrett Wilson, the Jets would find themselves up 16-13 with under two minutes remaining in the 4th quarter.
The Bills showed why they have sat atop the AFC East division for the past 3 years, as the Josh Allen-Stefon Diggs connection led the team into field goal range where kicker Tyler Bass would barely get a 50-yard field goal to bounce through the uprights, forcing the game to go to overtime.
The coin toss would be won by the Bills, who would walk away with a win if they scored a touchdown on that drive. However, the Jets defense did what they had been doing all game and dominated, forcing the Bills to bring out Sam Martin to punt the ball away to Jets rookie returner Xavier Gipson. An undrafted rookie, Gipson elected to sign with the Jets and fought his way to a roster spot after an outstanding showing in the preseason. He made the most of his limited opportunities, having the most electrifying and meaningful play of the game. Gipson caught Martin’s punt and began evading Bills defenders, bursting past them as he made his way up the field and eventually into the endzone, where he scored the game-winning TD, giving the Jets their first Week 1 victory since 2018.
The celebration among Jets fans and players was short lived, however, as it was confirmed on Tuesday morning that Aaron Rodgers had torn his Achilles, ending his 2023 season before it even began. The team will now look to Zach Wilson to lead them to the playoffs causing many fans to lose any optimism they had going into the season, but if this game is a sign of things to come, then the Jets might just be able to overcome this massive setback.