EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Jared Goff and the Detroit Lions were stymied for most of the game, unable to get much going against the New York Jets.
One stunning play reminded everyone how dangerous an offense they are.
Goff threw a go-ahead 51-yard touchdown pass to Brock Wright on fourth-and-1 with 1:49 remaining, and the Lions held on for a 20-17 victory over Zach Wilson and the Jets on Sunday that kept them on pace in the NFC playoff hunt.
“A lot of these close games are starting to lean more toward us than them,” said Goff, who went 23 of 38 for 252 yards. “That hasn’t always been the case around here. We fully believe in each other and know that somebody’s going to make a play to do something right.”
Coming out of the two-minute warning with Detroit (7-7) trailing 17-13, Goff looked to his left and found Wright wide open, and the tight end rumbled untouched until he reached the end zone. Defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins said the Jets thought Goff would sneak it.
And it came a few moments after Wright dropped a pass.
“I got back to him,” Goff said, “and he fully redeems himself for that play earlier in the drive.”
Added Wright: “I kept telling myself: ‘Reset. Finish.’”
That’s what the Lions, who entered fourth in overall offense after scoring 74 points and rolling up 902 yards in their previous two wins, have been doing as winners of three straight and six of seven after a dismal 1-6 start.
“You know you’ll be better,” coach Dan Campbell said. “You just don’t know how it’s going to get there, or what it’s going to be. You do know if you start playing better football, you can rattle off some wins in a row.”
But the Lions certainly had to sweat this one out.
Wilson — who had an up-and-down return as the starting quarterback — and the Jets had one more chance to tie or win.
On fourth-and-the game from the Jets 40, Wilson rolled to his right and completed a 20-yard pass to Elijah Moore for a first down. Coach Robert Saleh then called a timeout with 1 second remaining.
The Jets (7-7) sent out Greg Zuerlein for a potential tying 58-yard field goal, but his kick went wide left — further damaging the playoff hopes for New York, which is looking to snap an 11-year postseason drought.
“We had our opportunities all game,” Saleh said, “and we missed it.”
The loss came after it appeared New York was on its way to a comeback win of its own.
After Michael Badgley was short on a 54-yard field-goal attempt that would have extended Detroit’s lead, Wilson threw a go-ahead 1-yard touchdown pass to C.J. Uzomah with 4:41 remaining.
But New York’s defense, which had been solid the entire game even without an injured Quinnen Williams, couldn’t come up with a big stop.
“We’re all devastated,” cornerback D.J. Reed said.
Wilson, starting after being benched for three games, finished 18 of 35 for 317 yards with two touchdown throws to Uzomah — and an interception. Wilson played in place of the injured Mike White, who’s dealing with fractured ribs.
Saleh declined to say whether Wilson would start the Jets’ next game Thursday night against Jacksonville.
After a solid first two quarters, Wilson floated a pass early in the third to Moore that Jerry Jacobs easily picked off and returned 38 yards to the Jets 15.
But New York held Detroit out of the end zone and the Lions settled for a go-ahead 34-yarder by Badgley.
“You see how those three points came to bite us in the end,” Wilson said. “I’ve got to take care of the football.”
After Wilson and the Jets went three-and-out on their first possession of the game, Kalif Raymond caught Braden Mann’s punt out of the end zone, eluded a few would-be tacklers — including a diving Mann — and raced 47 yards to the end zone to give the Lions a 7-0 lead.
The Jets tied it at 7 early in the second quarter when Wilson rolled left and threw deep right — reminiscent of his highlight-reel pro day toss while he was at BYU — to Uzomah for a 40-yard touchdown.
Saleh and several Jets coaches and staffers ran the stadium steps a few hours before the game in honor of late assistant coach Greg Knapp.
Knapp was on Saleh’s staff when he died on July 22, 2021, when he hit by a distracted driver while riding his bicycle in California. Several teams around the NFL are running stadium steps — one of Knapp’s pregame rituals — to raise awareness for distracted driving and raise funds for the The Coach Knapp Memorial Fund.
The family of the late Dennis Byrd served as honorary Jets captains for the coin toss. Byrd played for the team from 1989 until 1992, when he was paralyzed during a collision with a teammate during a game. Byrd eventually walked again, but was killed in a car accident in Oklahoma in 2016.
Lions: S DeShon Elliott injured a shoulder in the third quarter.
Jets: WR Denzel Mims left with a concussion in the first quarter and didn’t return. … WR Jeff Smith hurt a knee in the fourth.
Lions: Travel to Carolina to take on the Panthers next Saturday.
Jets: Have a quick turnaround and face Trevor Lawrence and the Jacksonville Jaguars at home Thursday night.