Aaron Rodgers shook off the rust, threw a few passes and led the New York Jets into the end zone.
It all made for a successful preseason debut with his new team. And Jets fans can breathe a sigh of relief.
“I got in, didn’t get hurt, scored,” Rodgers said. “It was a good night.”
Rodgers threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Garrett Wilson to cap his second and final series, helping his new squad to a 32-24 victory over the Giants on Saturday night.
Wearing his white No 8 Jets jersey and playing in the preseason for the first time since 2018 when he was with Green Bay, Rodgers received loud cheers from the Jets fans in the stands for the “road” game at the stadium they share with the Giants.
“I had some butterflies, for sure,” said the 39-year-old Rodgers, who’s entering his 19th NFL season. “I loosened up pretty good when I got the ovation when I took the field. That was a special moment.”
Then he came out throwing in the regular-season tuneup against the Giants’ backups.
After completing three of his five passes for 23 yards on his first drive, Rodgers opened the next series for the Jets (2-2) with a handoff to Michael Carter and then overthrew CJ Uzomah. His toss on third down fell incomplete to Wilson, but Amani Oruwariye was called for pass interference – putting the ball at the Giants 24.
Rodgers then completed a 10-yard quick toss to Mecole Hardman. He followed with a perfectly placed pass to Wilson in the front left corner of the end zone with 8:23 left in the opening quarter that gave the Jets a 7-0 lead over the Giants (1-2).
“It’s always good to play against one of the best people in the game,” Giants second-year linebacker Darrian Beavers said. “It’s always good to get good competition and see how good the defense is. I mean, people like that … it elevates us.”
That was it for Rodgers, who went 5 for 8 for 47 yards and the TD in his two series before being replaced by Zach Wilson.
“It’s a start,” coach Robert Saleh said. “It doesn’t mean much. We’ve just got to continue working and continue to play football together and see where it goes.”
Rodgers’ next appearance will be the regular-season opener against the visiting AFC East rival Buffalo Bills on 11 September.
“I think we’re ready,” Rodgers said of the Jets’ offense.
Brandin Echols ended the Giants’ third offensive series by intercepting Tommy DeVito and returning it 67 yards for a touchdown to give the Jets a 14-0 lead in the first quarter.
The third-year cornerback is suspended for the first game of the regular season for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy.
DeVito, the third-stringer behind starter Daniel Jones and backup Tyrod Taylor, redeemed himself for the pick-six two series later.
Jashaun Corbin had a one-yard TD run with 8:27 left in the opening half to cut the Giants’ deficit to 14-7. DeVito and the Giants converted four third down plays on the drive that went 81 yards on 14 plays over 6:25.
DeVito, an undrafted rookie from Illinois who came in after Taylor played the first series, finished 19 of 29 for 210 yards, including a late 30-yard TD pass to David Sills.
Graham Gano kicked field goals of 57, 40 and 56 yards for the Giants, making him 6 for 6 on goal attempts in the preseason – each from 40 or more yards.
Giants linebacker Isaiah Simmons started for his new team just two days after being acquired from Arizona.
The No. 8 overall pick in the 2020 draft, who had three lackluster seasons with the Cardinals, nearly had a sack of Rodgers on the Jets’ opening series. Rodgers was forced to scramble and throw the ball away on the third down play and the Jets had to punt.
Saleh announced Mekhi Becton will be the Jets’ starting right tackle. Becton, who missed most of the past two seasons with knee injuries, made his first start on the right side after primarily playing left tackle since being drafted 11th overall in 2020.
Zach Wilson was 11 of 18 for 107 yards with no TDs or INTs before being replaced by Tim Boyle to start the fourth quarter.