ST. LOUIS – Muhammad Wilkerson and the Jets’ defense made Sunday’s game one Rams’ quarterback Sam Bradford will want to forget as soon as possible.
After Bradford led the Rams to an 86-yard, 13-play scoring drive on their first possession of the game, the Jets’ defense created three turnovers and kept the Rams from generating any more offense until the game was well under control late in the fourth quarter.
One of the biggest defensive plays came when Wilkerson broke free and sacked Bradford in the second quarter. Bart Scott picked up the fumble and ran 38 yards to the St. Louis 28, setting up a 25-yard scoring pass from Mark Sanchez to Chaz Schilens two plays later.
That touchdown put the Jets on top, 10-7, and helped ignite a 27-point outburst before the Rams scored a meaningless late touchdown.
“I got up the field and made a play and knocked the ball out,” Wilkerson said. “Bart did a great job recovering it and got some yards. We gave the offense a shot field and they scored a touchdown.”
After that first-period drive, the Jets limited Bradford and the Rams to just 96 yards of total offense over the next 2 1/2 quarters, forcing five punts, two fumbles and an interception.
“They played well,” Bradford said, “but it goes back to that first drive when we were executing, we had rhythm. Like I said, we were keeping ourselves in third and manageable. That’s something we wanted to do and it feels like after that things just kind of fell apart.”
One of the keys to the Jets’ defensive success came on third down, when the Rams were able to convert only five of 16 attempts in the game.
The Jets limited Bradford to only 23 completions in 44 attempts for 170 yards, only 110 after that opening drive.
“We desperately needed a win and we went out there and got one,” said cornerback Antonio Cromartie. “Everybody played like he can play and that’s all you can ask for. Our guys stepped up and did their jobs correctly, doing anything possible to get us a win.”
The win did not erase Cromartie’s disgust for having given up that late touchdown to St. Louis, even when the Jets already were in control of a 27-7 lead.
“We should not have given up that touchdown,” he said. “We relaxed a little bit because we had the big lead.”