The world had turned upside down.
The Gunslinger Within Zach Wilson had surfaced without warning, and No. 2 in the white jersey was outplaying No. 15 in the red jersey.
You read that right: Zach Wilson was outplaying Patrick Mahomes.
And when Wilson fired a 10-yard TD pass to Allen Lazard, and escaped trouble to dive into the end zone for the two-point conversion that made it Jets 20, Chiefs 20, after it had been Chiefs 17, Jets 0, Michael Carter was lifting Wilson from behind and MetLife Stadium was going bonkers, even with all those many red-clad Chiefs jerseys in the stands.
Maybe it was the presence of Aaron Rodgers on crutches that inspired Zach Wilson.
Maybe it was giving Taylor Swift something new to sing about.
Maybe he was driven to prove Joe Namath and most of New York wrong.
Don’t blame Zach Wilson for Chiefs 23, Jets 20.
There will be no talk of a quarterback change this week, nor should there be.
All that talk about a running game supporting the embattled quarterback?
This was Air Wilson instead, for better or for worse.
And stunningly for the most part, it was for the better.
He was poised. He showed moxie. He showed fight. He looked like a professional quarterback. He looked like a professional quarterback.
Amazing what can happen when you get the ball out of your hands and into the hands of your playmakers.
Amazing what can happen when Nathaniel Hackett designs a creative and simpler game plan to fuel the kid with confidence.
Wilson (28-for-39, 245 yards, 2 TDs) completed passes to 10 different receivers. He targeted Garrett Wilson 14 times, which is always a good idea.
He made one costly mistake, a fourth-quarter fumble that kept him from a chance to win the game.
It was a little less than perfect, of course. Zach Wilson barely overthrew Garrett Wilson on what would have been a 29-yard TD pass before bouncing back to beat the blitz on a 1-yard TD pass to C.J. Uzomah … before throwing behind Wilson over the middle in K.C. territory with 8 seconds left in the half. He had barely missed a diving Tyler Conklin in the end zone earlier.
But you weren’t expecting Phil Simms in Pasadena, were you?
Zach Wilson hadn’t gotten much help early from the much-ballyhooed Jets defense.
He didn’t get much help from Robert Saleh, who opted for a field goal on fourth-and-3 early in the second quarter trailing 17-2.
And then opted for what became a missed 52-yard field goal on fourth-and-1 at the KC 35 with 30 seconds left in the half and two timeouts left.
News bulletin: you don’t try to beat Mahomes with field goals.
And Hackett had started slowly as well: Third-and-1 at the NYJ 41. Breece Hall, anyone? No. Wilson, from the shotgun, throws incomplete for Conklin into double coverage.
But on this night, the great Mahomes would throw two first-half interceptions and somehow let Wilson and the Jets back in the game.
“He really has a similar game to Josh Allen,” Quinton Jefferson had said.
The Jets intercepted Allen three times on opening night after Rodgers’ Achilles betrayed him.
“He’s fun to go against, ’cause you go against a guy like him — a future Hall of Famer — it raises your game,” Jefferson said.
Now it was the fourth quarter and all of the Jets needed to raise their games. Mahomes, from his 12, engineered a 7:23 FG drive. Chiefs 23, Jets 20.
Then Zach Wilson looked away and fumbled the snap and Tershawn Wharton recovered it at the NYJ 47.
He never saw the ball again.
Because Mahomes on third-and-23 broke loose for 24 yards before a questionable third-and-20 holding call against Sauce Gardner nullified a Michael Carter II interception.
For once, don’t blame Zach Wilson.
He stared down the great Mahomes and didn’t blink. And with more help, might have beaten him.