This is what the Jets, and Robby Anderson, had in mind for Robby Anderson all along.
Big plays. Game-changing plays. Difference-making plays.
But the numbers were not supporting the plan. Anderson entered Sunday’s Jets 24-22 win over the Cowboys with 11 quiet receptions for 131 quiet yards and no touchdowns in four games. Those are not game-changing numbers.
But there were the Jets on Sunday at MetLife Stadium, where there were an annoying number of vociferous Cowboys fans, with a chance to change the game with a big play on offense after four games of dormant offense.
The Jets were already up 7-3 — the first time they had a lead since Week 1 — and their defense had just stuffed Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott for a 1-yard loss on fourth-and-2 from the Jets’ 7-yard line.
On the very next play, Sam Darnold lofted a picturesque pass in the direction of the speedster Anderson, who left Cowboys cornerback Chidobe Awuzie so far behind him it looked like Awuzie was chasing the 4 Train pulling out of the station without him.
As the ball settled into Anderson’s arms around midfield, Dallas safety Jeff Heath made a futile last-ditch dive at the receiver’s thin ankles, and Anderson cruised into the end zone untouched for a 92-yard touchdown catch-and-run and a 14-3 lead.
It was a stunning turn of events for the Jets, who in the past three weeks, simply have not felt any sort of electrical jolt like that on offense.
The moment felt liberating for an offense that, with Darnold missing three games with mononucleosis, had been noncompetitive, scoring one touchdown in that span.
Suddenly, after the fourth-down stop and the explosive touchdown, it felt like the awakening of a season that had overslept by a month at MetLife Stadium.
And Anderson, who finished with five catches for 125 yards and the TD, was a catalyst.
“It’s not his fault. He’s open,’’ coach Adam Gase said of Anderson during the week. “He’s open. We just haven’t been able to get him the ball. Something’s always happened. He’s doing a good job as far as what we are asking him to do. We have had opportunities, we just haven’t hit on them yet.’’
Well, on Sunday, they hit the jackpot.
Imagine that: The Jets hurting an opponent with their passing game.
Where have you gone, Luke Falk?
“Until you prove that you can hurt people in the passing game, that’s what you are going to get,’’ offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said during the week. “You want to take away what a team does well, and right now teams are trying to take away 26 [running back Le’Veon Bell], and we haven’t hurt anyone to make them pay.’’
Aside from Anderson, the Jets also were led by receiver Jamison Crowder (six catches for 98 yards), Demaryius Thomas (four catches for 62 yards) and tight end Ryan Griffin (three catches for 28 yards). Griffin also had a touchdown, which gave the Jets a 21-3 lead late in the first half.