Adam Gase has stuck with Frank Gore time and time again through a trying Jets season.
The 37-year-old running back rewarded him Sunday, coming through in the clutch to make sure the Jets avoided 0-16.
Gore helped the Jets seal their first win of the season with his only catch of the game on a third down just before the two-minute warning that allowed them to run out the rest of the clock for a 23-20 victory over the Rams.
“Good thing we had a Hall of Fame running back in there that seems to make plays at the right time,” Gase said.
Gore finished with 23 carries for 59 yards and a touchdown, getting tough yards late on the Jets’ final drive before they entered foreign territory: victory formation. The play that secured the win came on third-and-6, when a pressured Sam Darnold found Gore waving his hands across the middle. The veteran caught the pass and fell backwards for the first down.
Without any timeouts left, the Rams had no way to stop the Jets from finding the win column.
“Before the play, I just told Sam, ‘Watch me over the middle,’ ” Gore said. “[Rams linebacker Troy Reeder] ran and Sam looked and I was open. I wanted to make sure I caught the ball and secured the win.”
Gore had been vocal earlier in the season about not wanting to have his name attached to an 0-16 season. Sunday, in Week 15, he finally made sure himself that stigma wouldn’t be attached to his accomplished career.
“I’m happy,” Gore said. “I had good years, I had bad years, I had tough years, like this has been a tough one. One thing I can say: I never went 0-16. We finally got one. I’m happy. I’m happy that [general manager Joe Douglas], Adam gave me an opportunity to play another year. To be here with these young guys, man, even though I know the year ain’t go how I planned it, but we’ve been fighting as a team. We’re steady going and we’re getting better.”
Gase has received criticism for sticking with Gore despite having younger running backs on the roster. It was amplified recently when Ty Johnson and Josh Adams helped the Jets have their best rushing game of the year against the Raiders after Gore left with a concussion.
But Gore got another heavy workload on Sunday and held up his end of the bargain. He found the end zone on a 1-yard touchdown on fourth-and-goal midway through the third quarter, following behind big left tackle Mekhi Becton to get in for the 20-3 lead.
“I’m going to enjoy this today,” Gore said,” and have a good Christmas.”