Michael Carter laughed. He was asked about his quarterback, Zach Wilson, and the nifty 52-yard touchdown run Wilson had pulled off in the first quarter, the longest run of any quarterback in the Jets’ 62-year history.
“I know he had a 52-yarder,” Carter said, still chuckling. “I haven’t done that this year.”
Maybe not. But Carter had his own golden ticket of an afternoon in the Jets’ 26-21 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday at MetLife Stadium. Not only did he pile up a career-high 118 yards on 16 carries, he rattled off a 38-yard run late in the fourth quarter that set up the Jets’ final score, a 20-yard field goal by Eddy Pineiro.
That extended the Jets’ lead from two to five, and it meant all the difference in the world when the Jaguars drove to the Jets’ 1-yard line, needing a touchdown instead of a field goal to win the game.
“No matter whose number was called, they made plays today,” said Carter, who’s shown flashes of brilliance in his rookie year: 77 yards rushing in a win over Cincinnati, 67 yards receiving against the Patriots.
Carter hurt his ankle in a Week 10 loss to Miami at MetLife and that cost him three games. When he returned last week against the Dolphins in Miami, he seemed tentative: eight carries for 18 yards, one catch for 2 yards.
Not so this week.
“The boys up front were moving people out of the way, in the best way,” Carter said. “Between the offensive line and the receivers blocking we didn’t have to do all that much so all we had to do was make our guys miss.”
Carter talked about something Morgan Moses said before the game.
“Someone,” the veteran tackle told his teammates, “will have an opportunity today.”
The words carried weight.
“Everyone who had an opportunity,” Carter said, “made the most of their opportunity.”
Carter as much as anyone. Carter ran for 1,003 yards as a junior at North Carolina in 2019 and last year ran for 1,245 and nine touchdowns, and the Jets took him in the fourth round of last year’s draft, the 107th pick.
Carter’s early hints were intriguing enough. Now it is clear that he is going to be a fundamental part of the Jets’ building-block core going forward.
“I’ll enjoy this,” Carter said.