Bryce Petty a mix of ugly and fun as Jets QB begins his audition

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Bryce Petty was brave, Bryce Petty was reckless, Bryce Petty was maddening and Bryce Petty gave the diehards who watched this game between two bad football teams enough agita to last through the holidays.

Petty might or might not be the solution to the Jets most important problem, but he’ll sure make you pull your hair out before we know for sure. The second-year quarterback kicked off his month-long audition with a wild and wacky 23-17 overtime win over the 49ers on Sunday.

Petty won’t be mistaken for Brady, Rodgers or Manning anytime soon, but he had timely moments of brilliance to help the 4-9 Jets end their four-game losing streak. The young signal caller threw an interception on his first pass of the day before rallying his team late to drop San Francisco to 1-12.

“He played with a lot of heart,” wide receiver Robby Anderson said. “That’s what’s important. He kept fighting.”

Bilal Powell has career day in Jets victory

It was ugly and fun to witness all at once. Petty, admittedly more nervous than he was in his first start a month ago, looked lost out of the gate. He was indecisive and apprehensive. He appeared overwhelmed by the moment.

Petty’s first pass was picked off by Jimmie Ward before the 49ers cashed in on the next play for a score.

The Jets fell behind by two touchdowns a little more than four minutes into the game and trailed 17-3 at intermission. A pivotal fourth-and-one defensive stop set the stage for Bilal Powell’s 19-yard touchdown to cap the come-from-behind win, but Petty was the focus on a game that meant little for either team other than getting closer to securing a Top 5 pick in the upcoming draft.

Petty went 23-for-35 for 257 yards and an interception,

Bilal Powell, Bryce Petty lead Jets to overtime win against 49ers

“I’m not going to say he went out there and played lights out,” said Brandon Marshall. “He didn’t play at the level that a top tier guy would play at. It’s his second start, second year. He made the plays he’s supposed to.”

The Jets are in full-fledged evaluation mode with Petty with a few games left in this nightmarish season. If they weren’t aware that Petty, for all the learning that still remains, has a fire required for the passion, they certainly are now.

Petty nearly got sawed in half on a gritty two-point conversion on a zone-read keeper to get the Jets to within 17-14 with five minutes left in regulation.

“We needed it,” Petty said of his play after Powell’s five-year touchdown run capped a 15-play, 8 ½ minute drive. “I think it’s the first time a stiff arm has ever worked in my life. It worked at that moment.”

Petty goes down for a sack in the first half.

Petty goes down for a sack in the first half.

(Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

A week after the Jets were lampooned for a perceived lack of effort in a 31-point no-show loss to the Colts, Petty’s resilience and fight were emblematic of this game.

“He was up and down,” Todd Bowles said. “He made some throws. He made some dangerous throws.”

No throw induced more heart palpitations from the Jets sideline than Petty’s ill-advised 26-yard completion to Anderson in overtime to set the stage for Powell. Petty was flushed out of the pocket to his left before letting it fly across his body to Anderson, who finished with 6 catches for 99 yards.

“Shoot, when the pocket breaks down,” said Petty, “You go be a football player.”

He has a little gunslinger in him, which can drive a coach batty. He’s not afraid to take a chance, not afraid to turn a bad pass into a great play. The heave to Anderson should be on instructional video for kids on what precisely NOT to do playing quarterback. But…

“Ah, shoot, you play QB and you go on instinct,” Petty said. “In that moment… it probably wasn’t the smartest thing throwing across my body like that, but he made the play.”

Bowles praised Petty’s “feistiness” and willingness to take off and run in the second half. “He settled down and made some gutsy plays,” the coach said.

Petty’s butterflies probably contributed to his slow start, but they aren’t disappearing anytime soon.

“I like being nervous,” Petty said. “I love it. The day I stop being nervous for football is probably the day that I hang it up. I’m so passionate about football. There’s that feeling that football gives me that nothing else gives me.”

He’s certainly going to make the last few weeks interesting.

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Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News

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