One of the biggest plot twists of the NFL season occurred in its opening act. Aaron Rodgers went down with a season-ending injury just four snaps into his debut with the New York Jets, and never before has the energy been sucked out of a building like it was on Monday night at MetLife Stadium.
It’s worth wondering whether a home stadium has endured a worse 24 hours than MetLife did. On Sunday night the New York Giants lost 40-0 in primetime and less than a day later the Jets lost Rodgers for the season
They didn’t, however, lose the game.
Despite losing Rodgers the Jets hung close with the Buffalo Bills all night, forcing overtime and eventually winning on a walk-off punt return for a touchdown. The way the game began and the way it ended will be the talking points, but what happened in between was perhaps even more important and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers deserve at least partial credit for why the Jets were able to mount a comeback.
After Rodgers was carted off the field, you could hear a pin drop inside MetLife. The energy that had been absolutely electric in the lead up to the game was gone and the season already seemed lost. That’s when former Bucs safety Jordan Whitehead strapped the team onto his back and willed the energy back into the building.
Jordan Whitehead lifting Jets after Aaron Rodgers injury is a win for the Bucs
Whitehead recorded three turnovers on the night, all three being interceptions off Josh Allen.
His first interception was basically a punt, as Allen sailed a long ball that Whitehead was able to get under on a third down play deep inside the Jets own territory. It was his second pick, though, that truly started to turn the tide.
At this point, the energy was gone and the game was essentially a snooze. Whitehead changed that all and started to bring the crowd back into it.
His third pick was a real tide turning moment, as it came with under 10 minutes left in the game, stopped the Bills dead in their tracks, and helped set up a game-tying touchdown drive.
Whitehead’s night was big not only for the Jets but for the Buccaneers as well. It once again confirms how stellar Jason Licht and his front office is at identifying key talent in the draft, and is a reminder that the franchise is in as good of hands as it’s ever been before.
During his career in Tampa Bay, Whitehead was part of a vicious secondary that featured him playing with Antoine Winfield Jr., something that resulted in the team winning a Super Bowl. Whitehead was a big part of the Bucs iconic defense back in 2020 and it’s clear he’s only grown since then.
While he’s no longer with the Bucs, the fact that he’s continuing to make an impact should help fans in Tampa rest easy knowing that the man who found him in the NFL Draft is still the one calling the shots and building the franchise’s future.