EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Facing the New England Patriots for the first time, New York Jets rookie Zach Wilson received his welcome-to-the-rivalry moment on his first pass. And his second. And his fifth. And his 10th.
The rookie quarterback was intercepted four times in his first 10 pass attempts Sunday at MetLife Stadium, surpassing his interception total for his entire 2020 season at BYU.
Wilson finished 19-of-33 for 210 yards and the four interceptions. He also rushed three times for 19 yards in the Jets’ 25-6 loss.
While Wilson struggled, Patriots first-round pick Mac Jones (22-of-30, 186 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT) was efficient with a mostly conservative approach in earning his first career victory. Jones seldom threw down the field, content to take the shorter passes and complement the Patriots’ solid defensive effort.
Jones also found a way to contribute in other areas, hustling down the field and helping push running back Damien Harris over the goal line on his 26-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, and later chopping down a defender on a 16-yard run by receiver Kendrick Bourne.
Wilson, who was selected second overall in April’s draft, became the second Jets player in 40 years to throw interceptions on his first two passes in a game. (Vinny Testaverde did it in 2000.) He also became the first Jets quarterback to throw three interceptions in the first half of a game since Geno Smith in 2014.
Throwing three interceptions in the first half is a rare occurrence for NFL quarterbacks. Since the start of the 2020 season, only one other quarterback has done it — Kirk Cousins of the Minnesota Vikings. He had three against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 6 of last season.
Unlike in Week 1, Wilson was afforded solid pass protection. On the first interception, he threw over the middle into heavy coverage looking for Corey Davis. Cornerback J.C. Jackson stepped in front of Davis to make the play.
On his second throw, Wilson was on the move, rolling to his right, and threw high to Davis. The ball went off Davis’ hands and into the waiting arms of safety Adrian Phillips.
The rookie seemed to calm down after two complete passes, but he did it again, underthrowing rookie Elijah Moore. Once again, Jackson made the interception.
In the third quarter, Wilson threw his worst pass of the day, heaving a deep floater that was intercepted by safety Devin McCourty. There wasn’t an intended receiver near McCourty, and Wilson was under no duress.
On all four turnovers, Wilson was overly aggressive, looking downfield instead of settling for checkdown options. Going into the game, Wilson said he was excited to pass against a Bill Belichick-coached defense, saying it would be a “great challenge” with “lots of great learning.”
There were many teaching moments in Sunday’s game.
ESPN’s Mike Reiss contributed to this report.