The New York Jets white-knuckled a dwindling lead in Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Rams late into the fourth quarter.
A once 20-3 lead sat at 23-20 with under six minutes remaining when Adam Gase sent his punt unit onto the field. Rookie Braden Mann booted the pigskin 50 yards where Rams returner Nsimba Webster corralled the ball and streaked upfield.
Webster caught daylight and appeared headed for a potential go-ahead touchdown.
Mann stepped in the way. The 5-foot-11 former high school linebacker took down Webster for his fourth tackle of the season, helping preserve the Jets’ first victory of the year and, in some ways, altering franchise history.
Had Mann missed the tackle, the Jets might still be winless and in line for the No. 1 overall to land Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, widely considered the top QB prospect in college football.
“I haven’t looked at it that way, but I guess I could see where people would think that,” Mann said Wednesday in a phone interview with ESPN’s Rich Cimini.
Mann’s tackle stopped Webster from scoring, the Jets defense forced a turnover on downs and the offense drained the rest of the clock. W.
Given the sequence of events, it’s logical to give Mann a large portion of the credit for the win. For some Gang Green fans, however, a win was bad, as it could force the Jets to miss out on a potentially franchise-altering player like Lawrence, who has yet to announce his intentions for 2021. Some of those fans let him hear about it with angry responses.
“I got a few messages like that,” he said. “But whoever says something like that, I don’t think they ever tried to compete at something like this. For us, we get paid to play. We get paid to win.”
Mann called his first win as a pro “sweet” and said he ignores the fake tough guys on social media.
“I couldn’t care less about the social media reaction, to be honest with you,” he said.
Mann said he didn’t deserve credit for the win, noting a big PBU by Marcus Maye and Frank Gore’s big first downs to milk the clock.
“It was a whole-team thing,” the rookie said.
It’s a win that helped the Jets avoid 0-16 and could cost them a chance at the best QB prospect since Andrew Luck came out of college.
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