EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers was forced out of the game with an Achilles tendon injury in his debut for the New York Jets, who rallied behind their defense and stunned the Buffalo Bills 22-16 in overtime on Monday night , if Rookie Xavier Gipson returned a punt 65 yards for the winning goal.
New York’s aggressive defense forced four turnovers from Buffalo’s Josh Allen, including three interceptions from Jordan Whitehead, in a wild and often ugly start to the season. While the Jets ended their night with coach Robert Saleh joining a cheering crowd in the end zone, Rodgers’ injury cast a shadow over their season.
Saleh said after the game that the injury was to Rodgers’ Achilles tendon and that the 39-year-old quarterback would undergo an MRI on Tuesday.
Micheal Clemons forced an Allen fumble that was parried by Quinnen Williams and set up Greg Zuerlein’s third field goal – a 30-yarder – with 1:48 left to give the Jets the lead for the first time.
After Buffalo scored a three-and-out early in overtime, Sam Martin punted 42 yards and Gipson threw it, made a few plays early and then scampered down the left sideline, made a few more cuts and raced in the end zone to elicit a huge celebration from his teammates.
Saleh was there to fawn over Gipson, an undrafted rookie who made the team out of training camp.
The Jets tied it with 4:55 left on an acrobatic catch by Garrett Wilson, who deflected Zach Wilson’s right-handed pass to himself – and laid it over Tre’Davious White – and held on to the ball as it fell his back in the end zone.
A night that began with optimism for the Jets turned disappointing before the game was even four minutes old.
Rodgers injured his left ankle while being sacked by Buffalo’s Leonard Floyd and fell awkwardly on his leg. The Jets said X-rays came back negative but ruled him out for the rest of the game.
NFL Network reported that Rodgers’ left foot was wearing a black walking boot when he was taken to the X-ray room.
After a 26-yard run by Breece Hall on the Jets’ opening play, Rodgers threw away his first pass after being heavily pressured by Gregg Rousseau. Rodgers threw incomplete on the next play, but Terrel Bernard was called for defensive holding.
Rodgers then tried to evade a charging Floyd, who wrapped up the quarterback and took him to the MetLife Stadium turf. Rodgers appeared to reach for his leg before trainers attended to him. After a few moments, he got up but needed help getting to the New York sideline.
Rodgers, 39, was taken to the blue medical tent to be examined – and then sat on a cart. Halfway to the locker room, he jumped off the cart and hobbled inside.
Zach Wilson replaced him 3:45 minutes into the game.
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