The Jets defense was hopeless in Seattle last week.
But the unit came back with a big statement Sunday against the Rams.
Safety Marcus Maye put the finishing touches on the stout defensive effort, breaking up a pass on fourth down late in the fourth quarter to hand the ball back to the offense and wrap up a 23-20 win over the Rams at SoFi Stadium.
“I can’t say enough about Marcus Maye, what he did in this game,” coach Adam Gase said. “He almost tried to end it himself with an interception, but then he made a hell of a play at the end of the game. I’m just glad he was out there.”
Maye had gotten his hands on a Jared Goff pass earlier in the fourth quarter and nearly made the acrobatic interception — which would have been his second in as many weeks after corralling one in a 40-3 loss to the Seahawks last Sunday. Instead the ball tipped off his hand and into the hands of tight end Gerald Everett for a 13-yard gain.
On the next drive, after the Rams closed within 23-20, they faced a fourth-and-4 from the Jets’ 37-yard line. Goff went deep to Everett, but Maye was there to get his hands on it and turn the ball over on downs with 3:54 to go.
“We stuck together as a defense when they started coming back, swinging back, and we just stuck it out,” Maye said. “We pulled together as a team, as a group, all three phases. I just made a play on fourth down, but it was definitely a group effort, a team effort.”
The Jets’ first game under interim defensive coordinator Frank Bush, after Gregg Williams was fired the day after a heartbreaking loss to the Raiders, had not gone as swimmingly. They gave up 410 yards, including 174 on the ground, and 40 points to the Seahawks last Sunday in Seattle.
But Bush’s unit came back Sunday to give up 303 yards, its second-lowest total of the season. The defense was flying around from the start, forcing a pair of three-and-outs to begin the game and nearly kept the Rams scoreless in the first half.
The Jets held the Rams to 2-for-11 on third downs and kept their dangerous wide receivers relatively in check, limiting Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp to a combined 11 catches for 95 yards.
“We keep it simple, put our feet in the dirt and go and play,” Maye said. “That’s what we did. We communicated. They played well up front. It was a group effort. The guys come out each week and show up during the week and come out on Sundays to try to get a win. The fact that we got it this week, I’m definitely happy for the guys.”