The unthinkable became the Jets’ devastating actuality.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who was acquired by the franchise last April with enormous expectations that he was the missing piece to a potential Super Bowl team, tore his left Achilles tendon on Monday.
In the season-opening game for the Jets and Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, Rodgers was sacked by Bills defensive end Leonard Floyd on just the offense’s fourth snap, causing what was confirmed on Tuesday as a season-ending injury.
To frame the occurrence in a more exasperating and emotionally piercing context for Jets fans who have craved another Super Bowl title since the team’s first and only in 1969, 54 years ago, Rodgers, who many believed could help deliver the coveted prize, played less than 5 minutes of the 2023 season.
The Jets defeating the Bills 22-16 in overtime on a dramatic 65-yard game-ending punt return by rookie Xavier Gipson with 9:02 remaining had the relevance of a footnote contrasted with Rodgers’ injury. The Jets’ swarming, relentless defense and quarterback Zach Wilson, who replaced Rodgers, limiting his consequential mistakes to one interception, helped the team fight back from a 13-3 halftime deficit was commendable.
Second-year running back Breece Hall, playing his first regular season game since tearing the ACL in his right knee last October 23 in Week 7 and cutting short a sensational rookie season, was inspiring. Hall looked explosive and fully recovered on Monday night, rushing for a dazzling 127 yards. However, it was an afterthought in light of the Jets’ championship aspirations and the 39-year-old Rodgers’ career in doubt.
“I’m going to enjoy this win,” said Jets head coach Robert Saleh in his postgame press conference. “Winning in the NFL is hard regardless of who the quarterback is. But personally, I don’t hurt for me, I don’t hurt for the locker room. I hurt for Aaron. I’m still going to say a prayer, hold out hope. My heart’s with Aaron now, no one else.”
On Tuesday, Saleh expanded on his sentiments.
“I feel more for Aaron than anyone,” he said of the four-time NFL MVP. “He’s invested so much into this organization, so much into this journey he’s embarked on and wanting to be a part of what we have going here, and…into not only this organization, but his teammates, himself, this fanbase, this city. I have a lot of emotions for him.”
The Jets will face the 1-0 Dallas Cowboys on the road this Sunday (4:25 p.m.). The Cowboys crushed the Giants at MetLife Stadium on Sunday night 40-0.