The Big Cat was on the prowl in Week 5 as defensive lineman Leonard Williams racked up 2.0 sacks and the Jets snapped a three-game skid with a 34-16 win over the Broncos.
“I think it was important because players feed off of each other,” Williams said. “It could’ve been me, it could’ve been Jamal [Adams], it could’ve been Darron [Lee]. It could’ve been anybody. When the big-time players are making big-time plays, it motivates the team. Everybody starts to back up each other, rally together and make stuff work.”
Williams, who recorded his first sack of 2018 in Week 4, said the defense’s pressure consistently kept Broncos quarterback Case Keenum off his mark as he only completed 57% of his passes through three quarters. The 6’5”, 302-pounder got home to Keenum on three third downs, two on back-to-back drives in the second quarter and another on the first defensive series of the third quarter.
“That’s where it started. We knew we had to be physical,” head coach Todd Bowles said. “That’s a good football team over there. We got off running the ball pretty good, the defensive line showed up and got some hits on the quarterback. That’s how we’re going to have to play and try to win the game.”
The Green & White finished with four sacks against a Broncos unit that allowed nine sacks entering Sunday’s ballgame (15th in the league) and was missing starting right tackle Jared Veldheer. As well as recording a full sack, Williams split a pair of sacks with Maye and OLB Jordan Jenkins, and OLB Jeremiah Attaochu also registered a full sack. In addition to the four takedowns, the defense totaled six quarterback hits and seven tackles for loss.
“I think the defense as a whole did a great job,” Williams said. “There were a lot of times when the quarterback was holding the ball for a long time and I’ll give credit to the DBs for making the quarterback hold the ball. They must’ve had nowhere to throw and it gave me time to get to the quarterback.
“The way the whole team played, all three phases, it takes the same way on defense — it takes the linebackers, it takes the DBs for everything to work and I’ll never take full credit. It goes to the whole defense.”
Not only did the Jets have success getting to Keenum, but the unit put together a very strong performance against the run, holding the Broncos’ No. 3 rushing attack to only 92 yards. All of this coming on an emotional day for the team as defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers missed the game due to an undisclosed illness.
“We all love Kacy here. He’s a great guy. He’s a great coach,” Williams said. “You can relate to him on and off the field and we all know how passionate he is about this and how much he wishes he can be here right now. He’d do a lot to be out there with us and Jamal gave a great pregame speech to the defense. He said if you didn’t have enough to play for, play for that man. I think he’s proud right now.”