With three games remaining on the 2021 NFL schedule including contests against the Buffalo Bills and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the best chance for the NY Jets to taste victory again this season was clearly this week against the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars.
Gang Green did not disappoint and defeated the Jaguars by a score of 26-21 before a sparse but lively crowd at MetLife Stadium.
The Jets capitalized on a strong running attack led by Michael Carter who rushed for 118 yards on 16 carries. Carter is the first Jets' running back to run for over 100 yards in a game since Ty Johnson did it against the Las Vegas Raiders in December of last year.
Quarterback Zach Wilson also contributed another 91 yards rushing on four carries including a dazzling 52-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
However, the Jets' dominant rushing attack was only one part of the equation on Sunday. The other part was the outstanding performance of " Mr. Clutch" Braxton Berrios. Week in and week out, Berrios has continued to shine and find ways to help the team score points.
Since the inception of the "Beast of the Week" award, Berrios has been a runner-up many times but this week the honor goes solely to him.
Braxton Berrios was the star of the game for the NY Jets in Week 16
The former Miami Hurricane contributed in a big way against Jacksonville which was highlighted by an electric 102-yard kickoff return early in the second quarter.
It was the first touchdown return for the Jets since 2018 and the longest return since the late Joe McKnight returned one for 107 yards in 2011. Overall, Berrios returned three kickoffs for 138 yards and had one punt return for 12 yards.
Berrios also provided stability to a depleted Jets' receiving corps that was featuring the likes of Jeff Smith, Denzel Mims, and Keelan Cole. The speedy receiver caught five passes for 37 yards and clearly became the go-to guy for Zach Wilson.
It's become increasingly evident that the Jets' coaching staff has a great deal of confidence in Berrios and they continue to rely more and more heavily on him in key situations.
In the second quarter facing a fourth down and three-yard situation, Wilson connected with Berrios over the middle for a big first down conversion enabling the Jets to maintain possession of the football for the remainder of the first half.
In the fourth quarter, Berrios had two more big receptions for the Jets. The first one was a conversion of a second down and seven on a bubble screen while the second catch was on a huge third down and nine play in which Berrios absorbed a big hit over the middle.
The gritty receiver maintained control of the ball and gave the Jets another big first down on a drive that would eventually lead to a field goal and a 26-21 lead.
Braxton Berrios has been solid for the Jets since game one of this season. In what has been a year of growing pains and instability, Berrios has been a model of consistency.
Over the course of the past few seasons, Berrios has developed into a tough and highly intelligent football player. Extending or re-signing him should be at the top of the Jets' to-do list as the ream goes forward.
High-character players with great work ethic are hard to come by. Berrios is that type of player and hopefully he will continue to provide the Jets with the versatility and leadership needed for a young team in the years to come.
He is my "Beast of the Week" and who knows, maybe someday Jets fans will look back on the career of Braxton Berrios in the same manner in which they now look back on the career of Wayne Chrebet. Only time will tell, but he is definitely a keeper.