Zach Wilson rallies Jets to thrilling comeback win over Steelers

Quarterback Zach Wilson returned from injury and spearheaded two fourth-quarter touchdown drives to bring the Jets back from a 10-point deficit in a 24-20 win at Acrisure Stadium on Sunday. The win moves the Jets to 2-2 this season and gives the team just its second win ever in this city. 

It was far from a perfect performance from Wilson in his return from his preseason knee injury, but he delivered when the Jets needed him to in the fourth quarter and even caught a touchdown pass in the game. 

Wilson went 10 of 12 passing for 128 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter. He led the Jets down the field twice after they fell behind 20-10 early in the final quarter. 

“It was an ugly win, but that was some of the some of the most fun I’ve had playing football,” Wilson said. “The emotions, the ups and downs, trying to overcome adversity, such a cool fight by the guys.” 

Rookie running back Breece Hall scored the game-winning touchdown, a 2-yard plunge with 16 seconds left. It initially looked like Hall fumbled the ball, but a replay showed he crossed the goal line before losing it. 

The touchdown capped an 11-play, 65-yard drive that started when Jets cornerback Michael Carter II intercepted Steelers rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett on a tipped pass at the Jets’ 35 with 3:34 left in the game. 

The Jets have now pulled off two dramatic comebacks on the road. This was not quite as miraculous as the win in Cleveland, but it was every bit as impressive. It is the first time since 2000 the Jets have had multiple wins in the same season after trailing by 10 points or more in the fourth quarter. They had three in 2000. 

“Obviously there’s a culture shift,” wide receiver Braxton Berrios, who threw the touchdown to Wilson, said. “More than I can say it, I think you can see it. … We didn’t flinch. It’s a testament to everybody in this room from the top down about what we’re building here.” 

It felt like the Jets were dead when the Steelers took a 20-10 lead with 13:36 left in the game on Pickett’s second rushing touchdown. The Steelers had replaced Mitch Trubisky with Pickett to start the second half and he gave the home team a jolt of energy, but he also made some rookie mistakes. 

“It’s very frustrating,” said Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, who intercepted Wilson. “It’s frustrating losing to people that you know that you’re better than, more talented than.” 

The Jets had a 10-6 lead at halftime when Steelers coach Mike Tomlin made the switch to Pickett, much to the delight of the 66,578 fans in attendance, who had been chanting his name. 

Pickett threw an interception to Jets safety Jordan Whitehead on his first passing attempt. But Wilson returned the favor when Fitzpatrick intercepted a Wilson pass that bounced off Tyler Conklin’s hands. Fitzpatrick returned the pick to the Jets’ 4-yard line. Pickett gave the Steelers a 13-10 lead with a 1-yard quarterback sneak for a touchdown. 

The lead grew to 20-10 when Pickett led the Steelers on a 12-play, 82-yard drive that spanned the end of the third quarter and beginning of the fourth. Pickett made a pretty 18-yard pass on third down to tight end Pat Freiermuth as Quinnen Williams hit him to get the ball to the 2. Pickett then ran it in from there. 

It felt like the game was over with the Steelers up by double digits, “Renegade” blaring in the stadium and the fans going nuts. 

But the Jets showed the resilience they first displayed in Cleveland last month. 

Wilson answered the Steelers score with an impressive drive of his own. The Jets went 81 yards on 11 plays, with Wilson finding Corey Davis for a 22-yard gain on fourth-and-7 and then hitting Davis again for a 5-yard touchdown to cut the Pittsburgh lead to 20-17. 

The Steelers got the ball back with 7:31 left and a chance to run down the clock, but Pickett tried a pass to Freiermuth on the sideline. Sauce Gardner had tight coverage and as the two went for the ball, it was batted into the air. Carter ran under it and made a diving interception to give the Jets life with 3:34 left to play. 

Wilson engineered a 10-play drive with a big third-down pass to Conklin and a few big completions to Davis. On second-and-goal from the 2, Hall plunged in for the go-ahead score. 

Pickett made a desperation heave on the final play of the game from the Jets’ 48 that was intercepted by Lamarcus Joyner in the end zone. It was Joyner’s second interception of the game. 

The Jets jumped out to a rare 10-0 lead. The first touchdown was a version of the Philly Special with Wilson handing off to Garrett Wilson, who then flipped the ball to Berrios, who threw the touchdown pass to a wide-open Zach Wilson. 

Wilson said he never thought about his knee once. He missed the first three games of the season after injuring his knee in the preseason. Wilson’s final statistics Sunday were 18 of 36 passing for 252 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. 

The Jets nearly unraveled at the end of the first half when Wilson threw an interception and defensive end Carl Lawson committed a personal foul that allowed the Steelers to kick a field goal to make it 10-6. 

But the Jets managed to pull it out and are now 2-2. This is the latest the Jets have been .500 since 2018 when they were 3-3 after six weeks. 

“It wasn’t exactly the prettiest game,” Saleh said, “but I thought they did a good job battling and held up when we needed them to.”