Rodgers Caps Short Jets Preseason Debut TD Pass Against Giants

Rich ChiminiESPN staff writerAugust 26, 2023, 07:38 PM ET2 minute reading

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ — Aaron Rodgers’ highly anticipated debut Saturday night was brief but effective — and he didn’t touch.

In other words, it was a successful night for the New York Jets as they took on the New York Giants in their annual preseason game at MetLife Stadium.

Saying “you can’t coach out of fear,” coach Robert Saleh played the 39-year-old quarterback in the Jets’ final exhibition game because he wanted him to acclimate to the stadium and his new teammates before the season opener — a decision a fan base that has witnessed several quarterback injuries over the years. It caused tremors in the forum.

Rodgers played just two series — nine total snaps — and capped his abbreviated night with a 14-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Garrett Wilson. The four-time MVP, in his first postseason action since 2018, was replaced by backup Zach Wilson. It was a pass-heavy night for Rodgers, who completed 5 of 8 attempts for 47 yards. He was pressured twice. The Giants had two quarterback hits, but they were more like touchdowns, not actual hits. Not once was Rodgers knocked to the ground.

Things got a little heated. On the play before the touchdown, Rodgers and linebacker Jihad Ward exchanged words after Ward collided with wide receiver Mecole Hartman Jr.

It was a Giants home game, but there were plenty of Jets fans in the house. They gave Rodgers a loud ovation when he walked onto the field for the Jets’ first possession.

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Rodgers zipped a wide receiver screen to Wilson, who threw his way for 10 yards. Rodgers and Wilson developed instant chemistry in training camp, and they brought that to the game. Wilson caught all three of Rodgers’ passes, totaling 30 yards.

The touchdown was a textbook behind-the-shoulder pass, as Wilson beat rookie cornerback Jamon Green. The coverage was solid — only one yard of separation — but it was a vintage Rodgers pass, a tight window dart.

Rodgers played four-fifths of the Jets’ starting offensive line. The only missing starter is Dwane Brown, who is expected to play in the opener against the Buffalo Bills. Dalvin Cook and Breece Hall are out as running backs. They are also expected for 1 week.

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