EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Jets fans didn’t have very many feel-good moments during the first seven weeks of the season.
But they sure had one on Sunday, courtesy of a backup quarterback no one expected anything from, CBS2’s Kevin Rincon reported.READ MORE: Flacco And Moore Shine, But Jets Still Fall To Dolphins
The fan reaction at the end of Sunday’s game said it all. There was joy for a change at MetLife Stadium, and the man who helped make them all happy, 26-year-old Mike White, a backup quarterback who held on to the game ball, like he’s never had one before, because he hasn’t, at least not in the NFL.
“I’m keeping this. I’m keeping this,” White said.
White was drafted in 2018, and later waived by the Dallas Cowboys. He latched on to the Jets, but was relegated to being on the practice squad.
But on Sunday, starting only because rookie Zach Wilson is currently out with a knee injury, he threw for 405 yards and three touchdowns in the 34-31 win over the Bengals, who were at the time considered one of the best teams in the AFC. He took his opportunity and ran with it, and in exchange the fans serenaded him with chants.
“At first, I had to listen again. Are they chanting my name?” White said, adding he’d never heard such a thing directed at him at any level playing football. “That was pretty cool.”
The performance he delivered was one for the ages. He started the game by completing his first 11 passes. No Jets quarterback had done that since Chad Pennington 18 years ago. He was also the first Jets signal-caller to throw for at least 400 yards since Vinny Testaverde in 2000.
On Monday, fans continued their praise.
“A backup QB to do that, outstanding performance. Great job, man. He needs a contract,” said Anthony Brown of Paterson, New Jersey.READ MORE: Allen, Bills D Dominate White, Jets In Rout
“Mike White was awesome. First of all, he didn’t look nervous. He came in, he did a good job, and he ran the offense,” another fan said.
“They forgot all about Zach Wilson. They forgot about everybody. It was Mike White. The fans have been waiting for this for a long time,” added Vic Ambrose of Morristown.
After the game, White said that excitement was reflected in the outpouring of support he received.
“I had probably over 300-something text messages. Still working to get through some of those, but it was pretty wild,” White said.
And some of the messages came from the guy he’s currently replacing, Wilson.
“He honestly might have been more juiced up than me,” White said of the Jets’ high draft pick this last spring. “Every play, he was texting my phone, knowing, obviously, I wasn’t answering. ‘Oh my God that was awesome,'” White said.
Head coach Robert Saleh was asked if White could be the long-term solution at quarterback.
“Anything is possible … and what Mike does with his opportunity, he’s got the world in front of him. He just has to take advantage of it,” Saleh said.
And White will get another chance this Thursday in his first ever prime time game when the Jets travel to Indianapolis.MORE NEWS: Taylor, Ground Game Help Colts Find Easy Path Past Jets
CBS2’s Kevin Rincon contributed to this report.