DENVER — The New York Jets won their fourth straight game to improve to 5-2 for the first time since 2010, but the postgame mood Sunday was tempered with the fear that rookie sensation Breece Hall will miss the remainder of the season with a torn ACL.
Hall, carted off the field in the second quarter of the Jets’ 16-9 win over the Denver Broncos at Empower Field, will have an MRI on Monday, but “the initial diagnosis is not good,” coach Robert Saleh said.
He didn’t elaborate, except to confirm a likely ACL injury.
It’s a devastating blow for the Jets and Hall, one of the NFL’s top rookies. In six-plus games, he proved to be one of the most exciting rookies in franchise history, becoming the first Jets player since 2009 to have a rushing touchdown in four straight games.
Hall gutted the Denver defense with a 62-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, reaching a maximum speed of 21.87 mph — the fastest this season by any ball carrier, according to Next Gen Stats. On his second run after the touchdown, he landed awkwardly after being tackled by a cluster of players in front of the Jets’ sideline.
“He’s a heck of a football player,” Saleh said. “When you lose great football players, it’s not good.”
The Jets might have lost more than Hall to long-term injuries.
Right tackle Alijah Vera-Tucker (elbow) and wide receiver Corey Davis (knee) also didn’t finish the game, and both will undergo tests Monday. Davis said he’s optimistic that it’s not a season-ending injury. He was actually cleared to return to the game but didn’t.
Quarterback Zach Wilson said he wasn’t aware of the three lost starters on offense until he got into the huddle and saw unfamiliar faces staring back at him.
“I didn’t even know what was going on, but I’m just in the huddle like, ‘Where they at?'” Wilson said. “It’s tough because all of those guys are great players. They’re all balling. But unfortunately, it’s part of the NFL, right?”
Wilson said he tried to rally his teammates and liked how they responded.
“Guys stepped up, saw it was their opportunity and that this is where more money, more playing time and other things come for people,” he said. “That was really cool when the guys stepped up right there.”
Still, it will be difficult to replace Hall, a second-round draft pick out of Iowa State whose speed provided a new dimension for the offense. The Jets have become run-reliant in the past four games, with Hall becoming the focal point. His 681 scrimmage yards are the fourth most by a Jets player in the team’s first seven games over the past 20 seasons. The group ahead of him is elite — running back Curtis Martin (917 in 2004), running back LaDainian Tomlinson (688 in 2010) and wide receiver Brandon Marshall (686 in 2015).
Without Hall, the Jets will rely on Michael Carter, their leading rusher last season, along with seldom-used Ty Johnson. They can elevate rookie Zonovan Knight from the practice squad.
Against the Broncos, the Jets played a sloppy game, managing only 53 plays, 10 first downs and committing 11 penalties for 85 yards. Wilson passed for only 121 yards, but they didn’t commit a turnover for the third straight game, something they hadn’t done since 2010. They won because their defense allowed only a touchdown and field goal and limited backup quarterback Brett Rypien to 225 passing yards on 24-for-46 efficiency.
“It was a grimy win for sure,” Carter said, adding they were bailed out by “the best defense in the league.”