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Mike White And Josh Johnson Outdueled By Carson Wentz

Carson Wentz #2 of the Indianapolis Colts looks to pass during the first half at Lucas Oil Stadium against the New York Jets on November 04, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Justin Casterline/Getty Images

The saga of Mike White was glorious while it lasted, which turned out not to be very long before being a Jet caught up with him. On Thursday night, the unknown-backup-turned-Hall-of-Famer (look it up!) came out against the Colts on the road on his second drive and delivered four beautiful passes to help New York even the score at 7-7.

Unfortunately, the last of those passes, a gorgeous 19-yard touchdown to Elijah Moore, was simultaneous with a big hit from Colts DT DeForest Buckner, who knocked the star-boy out of the game with a forearm injury. New York would never get all that close again, but not for lack of trying. Josh Johnson, who apparently has played for every football team to ever exist, came in and did … quite well! Definitely better than I expected Josh Johnson to do, anyway: 27-for-41 for 317 yards, with three scores and one late, tipped interception that ended the game for good.

Johnson even had a zinger of a touchdown pass! What a world!

A team can work with that if its defense is somewhat competent, but these are the Jets, and so they got picked apart by Carson Wentz, of all people.

Wentz was rock-solid on Thursday, with three touchdowns and 272 yards, and at one point, he was 15-for-18 as the Colts jumped out to a 28-10 halftime lead. Wentz wasn’t quite as precise in the second half, but he didn’t need to be. Part of it was the Jets being mostly beaten at that point, though New York did mount something resembling a comeback in the fourth quarter, closing the gap to a mere 15 points with 3:35 remaining and threatening to make it a one-score game before Johnson’s pick. The other part was that the Colts have Jonathan Taylor to make his quarterback’s life easier.

The Jets didn’t force Wentz into any uncomfortable throws, and he was able to live with medium-yardage, low-risk passes. No completion went for longer than 31 yards, and Wentz didn’t throw an interception. It was the definition of a game-manager game, only it came against a defense that let Wentz manage the game into a blowout. More telling than any passing stats is the fact that the Jets only got to Wentz for a sack once, and in garbage time.

It’s a shame that the Jets weren’t able to ride Mike White to another heroic comeback against a much better team, and it will be even worse if the forearm injury keeps one of the few bright spots in a truly turgid season sidelined for any length of time.
(Early word on White is positive.) Despite Johnson’s heroic effort to make the game something resembling respectable (are both Jets backups better than Zach Wilson? Is also-on-the-roster-now Joe Flacco?), the superior quarterback on the night wore blue and white. Wentz is still flawed in the same ways he’s always been flawed, but for this night he got to feast on a tragic team playing its backup’s backup. They all count the same in the W column.

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