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Jets' defence was thrilled to see QB Wilson 'cookin'

Zach Wilson New York Jets Zach Wilson - The Canadian Press

EAST HANOVER, N.J. (AP) — Zach Wilson played with confidence and command last Sunday for the New York Jets. And his teammates on defense loved every minute of it.

Wilson bounced back from a two-game benching to have arguably the best performance of his nearly three-year career, going 27 of 35 for 301 yards while setting career highs with a 75% completion rate and a 117.9 passer rating in the Jets' 30-6 romp over the Houston Texans.

“When we’re out there and we see Zach cookin' like that, we’re smiling and our hearts are so big smiling for Zach because we know what he’s been through,” said defensive lineman Solomon Thomas, who helped the team host a shopping spree for 25 students from Brooklyn Community Services’ Jets Academy on Tuesday night.

“We know all the stuff he’s had to endure and we know the player that he is,” Thomas added. “We know the throws he can make, we know the talent he has. And for him to just go show everyone who he is — because that’s who Zach is, he can play like that every game — we’re excited for him and we just want him to know that he has our support and we love him.”

Wilson and the offense have struggled mightily this season and the 2021 No. 2 overall pick was benched for two games in favor of the since-waived Tim Boyle. After a scoreless first half in his return, Wilson marched the Jets downfield for touchdowns on back-to-back drives to start the third quarter and New York had its second-largest scoring output of the season.

“I know it was frustrating for those guys for it to not have been clicking as much as they wanted it to,” edge rusher Jermaine Johnson said. “So I know it was a big relief.”

From outside the facility, the issues on offense appeared a possible source of contention from the defense — which has played well and kept New York in most games this season.

“There’s been a lot of talk this year about animosity building, you know, the offense and defense,” Thomas said. "The whole time has been love.”

The win over Houston snapped a five-game skid and the Jets (5-8) will take on the Miami Dolphins, who routed them 34-13 on Nov. 24. Miami's scoring total included a pick-6.

“You never want an opponent to put up 34 points on us and especially when as a defense I feel like we’re having a great game," Thomas said. “But you look at the score and it doesn’t feel like that. So we want to show who we are again. We know who we are, but we want to make sure that we play our ball against them.”

Thomas, the Jets' nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, was joined for the shopping spree by several Jets teammates, including Johnson, linebacker Quincy Williams, cornerbacks D.J. Reed and Bryce Hall, tight end Kenny Yeboah, special teams ace Justin Hardee and punter Thomas Morstead.

“It’s just always important to give back,” Thomas said. “We’re blessed with this platform the NFL gives us to have some motivation and inspiration for other people.”

The students in attendance each received $200 gift cards. Also, Thomas, Johnson and the Jets Foundation provided $200 gift cards for all 142 students enrolled in the Brooklyn Community Services’ Jets Academy's after-school program. The team also presented long-time BCS educator Patricia Thompson with a $10,000 check for a charity of her choice.

“It was amazing,” Johnson said. “I know how much as a kid when you don’t really come from having much, you just want to be able to grab stuff and put it in the cart without your mom having to take it out and put it back. I’m glad that could be a reality today.”