Locals in the NFL, Week 16: Zach Wilson leads Jets to win, after something even cooler

New York Jets' Zach Wilson warms up before a preseason NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021, in Green Bay, Wis. (Matt Ludtke, Associated Press)



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AROUND THE SHIELD β€” Already eliminated from the playoffs and with seemingly little to play for, Zach Wilson knew the season wasn't over in his first year with the New York Jets.

In a battle of the top two picks in April's NFL draft, Wilson used Week 16 to show the Jets they made the right decision, out-dueling Jacksonville quarterback Trevor Lawrence in a win.

But he didn't do it with his arms; he did it with his legs.

Wilson completed 14-of-22 passes for 102 yards and a touchdown, and ran for 91 yards and a score to help the Jets hold off the Jaguars 26-21 Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

The 91 yards set a quarterback rushing record in the history of the franchise β€” both the Jets and the Titans β€” surpassing previous marks set by Al Dorow in 1961 and Sam Darnold in 2020.

"Oh wow!" the former BYU quarterback told Jets media when told he had set the record. "I don't know if that's a good thing for me or bad for everyone else. It just worked out. I wasn't planning on running that much. It just kind of happened."

The Jets (4-11) were playing without head coach Robert Saleh, who was sidelined after testing positive for COVID-19, in a season that also saw Wilson's starting left tackle, left guard, center, right guard, tight end and three wide receivers out with a combination of injuries. After the game, Salem made an appearance in the postgame locker room via video call while the Jets celebrated around tight ends coach and interim head coach Ron Middleton.

Wilson's day started with a 52-yard touchdown, a zigzagging run that nearly went out of bounds twice before the Corner Canyon product wound his way into the end zone with 3:54 left in the first quarter.

The Jets didn't give up the lead, though never pulled away either, thanks to Braxton Berrios' 102-yard kick return, a pair of field goals by Eddie Pineiro, and Wilson's 1-yard TD toss to Connor McDermott β€” the 310-pound offensive tackle who reported in as eligible with 9:24 left in the fourth quarter.

That proved to be just enough to hold off the Jaguars, despite Lawrence's 280 yards on 26-of-39 passing and 37 yards on the ground. The defense also made one final stop, on the 1-yard line with 12 seconds remaining, to make Wilson sweat it out on the sideline.

"It's been a rough season, but we've got to put something good on film every single week," Wilson said. "We're going to keep fighting, and the guys had something to fight for today."

But the Sunday performance wasn't the best of the season for Wilson. A day prior, the son of former Utah defensive lineman Mike Wilson was enjoying a Christmas breakfast with his family at The Ritz Diner in Livingston, New Jersey, when the rookie quarterback surprised his waitress to two tickets to Sunday's game.

When Kensia Thelusma, who waits tables at the diner, found out the Jets' starting quarterback was enjoying a meal with his family, she called her son β€” who is "a big Jets fan," per Zach's mother Lisa, who shared the entire exchange on her Instagram β€” and took a selfie with the family.

Then Wilson surprised her even further.

"I have two tickets," the 22-year-old rookie said. "I swear."

Thelusma broke down in tears and embraced Wilson, who was grinning the whole time.

"@RitzDiner, thank you for the amazing service and delicious Christmas breakfast," Lisa Wilson posted on Instagram.

Sunday's win by the Jets wasn't just a big moment for Wilson. Former Utah cornerback Javelin Guidry totaled seven tackles β€” just two off his season high β€” in the win, and former BYU safety Kai Nacua made two stops less than a week after being signed off the 49ers' practice squad.

Here's how other former local high school and college football standouts played in Week 16 of the 2021 NFL regular season.

Miami 20, New Orleans 3 (Monday Night Football)

Dolphins (8-7)

  • Eric Rowe, DB, Utah: Reserve safety made one tackle on defense.

Saints (7-7)

  • Marcus Williams, S, Utah: Starting free safety made three tackles on defense.

Tennessee 20, San Francisco 17 (Thursday Night Football)

Titans (10-5)

  • No locals on the active roster.

49ers (8-7)

  • Fred Warner, LB, BYU: Starting linebacker made team-high six tackles, one tackle for loss in 62 defensive snaps.
  • Mitch Wishnowsky, P, Utah: Punted twice for 70 yards (35.0 average), with a one punt downed inside the 20 in eight special-teams snaps.

Green Bay 24, Cleveland 22 (Saturday)

Packers (12-3)

  • Tipa Galeai, LB, Utah State: Reserve linebacker made two tackles, one sack and a quarterback hurry in 16 defensive snaps, 11 on special teams.
  • Jordan Love, QB, Utah State: Active, but did not play in Week 16.

Browns (7-8)

  • Sione Takitaki, LB, BYU: Reserve linebacker made one tackle, one quarterback hurry in 21 defensive snaps, 20 on special teams.
  • Porter Gustin, DE, Salem Hills: Starting defensive end made one tackle in 39 defensive snaps, one tackle in four snaps on special teams.

Indianapolis 22, Arizona 16 (Saturday)

Colts (9-6)

  • No locals on the active roster.

Cardinals (10-5)

  • Leki Fotu, DT, Utah/Herriman: Starting defensive tackle made five tackles in 40 defensive snaps, 10 on special teams.

Dallas 56, Washington 14 (Sunday Night Football)

Cowboys (11-4)

  • Dalton Schultz, TE, Bingham: Starting tight end caught eight passes for 85 yards, including one of four touchdowns from Dax Prescott.
  • Francis Bernard, LB, Utah/BYU/Herriman: Reserve linebacker pulled up with a groin injury in the third quarter.

Football Team (6-9)

  • Dax Milne, WR, BYU/Bingham: Reserve receiver caught one pass for 14 yards.

NY Jets 26, Jacksonville 21

Jets (4-11)

  • Zach Wilson, QB, BYU/Corner Canyon: Starting quarterback completed 14-of-22 passes for 102 yards with a touchdown; ran for 91 yards on 4 carries, including a 52-yard score.
  • Javelin Guidry, CB, Utah: Starting cornerback made seven tackles, one quarterback hurry, one pass breakup.
  • Kai Nacua, S, BYU: Reserve safety made two tackles in Jets debut.

Jaguars (2-13)

  • Nevin Lawson, CB, Utah State: Reserve cornerback made two tackles on defense, one on special teams.
  • Jay Tufele, DT, Bingham: Reserve defensive tackle played sparingly.

Chicago 25, Seattle 24

Bears (5-10)

  • Khyiris Tonga, DT, BYU/Granger: Reserve defensive tackle made one tackle.
  • Patrick Scales, LS, Utah State/Weber: Played six snaps at long snapper and made one tackle.

Seahawks (5-10)

  • Bobby Wagner, MLB, Utah State: Starting middle posted team-high 12 tackles, including four solo stops.
  • Cody Barton, LB, Utah/Brighton: Reserve linebacker made 1.5 tackles on special teams.

Kansas City 36, Pittsburgh 10

Chiefs (11-4)

  • Daniel Sorensen, S, BYU: Reserve safety had one pass breakup.
  • Marcus Kemp, WR, Layton: Reserve made one tackle on special teams.

Steelers (7-7-1)

  • Miles Killebrew, S, Southern Utah: Reserve safety played primarily on special teams.

Las Vegas 17, Denver 13

Raiders (8-7)

  • Andre James, OL, Herriman: Started at center and made one tackle.
  • Dallin Leavitt, DB, Utah State/BYU: Starting strong safety made one tackle on defense.
  • Jackson Barton, OT, Utah/Brighton: Active, but did not play in Week 16.

Broncos (7-8)

  • Garett Bolles, OT, Utah/Westlake/Snow College: Started at left tackle.
  • Tim Patrick, WR, Utah: Starting wide receiver caught two passes for 18 yards.

Atlanta 20, Detroit 16

Falcons (7-8)

  • No locals on the active roster.

Lions (2-12-1)

  • Jamaal Williams, RB, BYU: Starting running back ran for 77 yards on 19 carries.
  • John Penisini, DL, Utah/West Jordan/Snow College: Reserve nose tackle made one tackle.
  • Penei Sewell, OT, Desert Hills: Started at right tackle.

Tampa Bay 32, Carolina 6

Buccaneers (11-4)

  • No locals on the active roster.

Panthers (5-10)

  • Brady Christensen, OT, BYU/Bountiful: Started at left tackle.

Cincinnati 41, Baltimore 21

Bengals (9-6)

  • Jalen Davis, CB, Utah State: Reserve cornerback played sparingly.

Ravens (8-7)

  • Ty'Son Williams, RB, BYU: Active, but did not play in Week 16.

Houston 41, LA Chargers 29

Texans (4-11)

  • Dominik Eberle, K, Utah State: Connected on field goals of 51 and 25 yards, as well as five extra points and nine kickoffs.

Chargers (8-7)

  • Michael Davis, CB, BYU: Active, but did not play in Week 16.
  • Alohi Gilman, S, Orem: Starting safety made six tackles.

LA Rams 30, Minnesota 23

Rams (11-4)

  • Matt Gay, K, Utah/UVU/Orem: First-time Pro Bowl honoree made field goals of 32, 31 and 24 yards, three extra points, and seven kickoffs.

Vikings (7-8)

  • Nick Vigil, LB, Utah State/Fremont: Reserve linebacker made two tackles, a tackle for loss.

Buffalo 33, New England 21

Bills (9-6)

  • Zack Moss, RB, Utah: Reserve running back ran for 12 yards on three carries; caught one pass for 13 yards.
  • Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah/Bingham/Snow College: Inactive for Week 16.
  • Taron Johnson, CB, Weber State: Reserve cornerback made four tackles, one pass breakup.

Patriots (9-6)

  • Kyle Van Noy, LB, BYU: Starting linebacker made seven tackles, one quarterback hurry.

Philadelphia 34, NY Giants 10

Eagles (8-7)

  • Sua Opeta, OG, Weber State/Stansbury: Offensive guard played as a reserve.

Giants (4-11)

  • Devontae Booker, RB, Utah: Reserve running back ran for 27 yards on six carries; made one tackle on special teams.

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