It took just four plays for the lights to go out on Aaron Rodgers in New York | Aaron Rodgers

It took all of four offensive snaps for the lights to go out in New York. All the excitement around the Jets’ new season evaporated when Aaron Rodgers suffered a suspected achilles injury that may well end his season (the results of the MRI will be announced on Tuesday). At 39, Rodgers came to the Jets (their stadium is in New Jersey but this is a New York team) with a little tarnish but far more talent, football IQ, and promise than any Jets quarterback probably ever. For the last few months he seemed to be everywhere in New York – grinning from the stands at Knicks games and the US Open, attending Broadway shows and charming his new teammates on HBO’s Hard Knocks. He instantly became the nucleus of the franchise, the player that was supposed to inspire his teammates and catapult the historically fleabitten Jets not just to respectability, but to the postseason for the first time since 2010.

But the anticipation around this Bills-Jets opener turned into an instant nightmare for Jets fans. Rodgers is one the NFL’s most omnipresent figures, and news of his injury left the whole league shaken. Even the most cold-hearted Chicago Bears fan wouldn’t have wished this on the former Green Bay Packer. The look on Jets head coach Robert Saleh’s face – and the eerie silence at MetLife Stadium as Rodgers sat on the turf after his injury – said it all. The Jets season felt over before it began.

The second guessing was soon in full force. Perhaps the Jets should have invested in more offensive line talent – the injury occurred when their 38-year-old left tackle, Duane Brown, stumbled, leaving Buffalo’s Leonard Floyd with a clear path to take down Rodgers. Unlike Tom Brady, who miraculously suffered no major orthopedic issues aside from a freak ACL tear in the first game of the 2008 season, Rodgers is an almost 40-year-old, with the body of a 40-year-old. The wear and tear is real. Between the collarbone injury in 2013 and clavicle in 2017, Rodgers has missed 16 starts – nearly a season’s worth – in the last decade.

After Rodgers left the field, the Jets were shaken but stayed in the fight. Josh Allen helped by stinking up the joint. Stymied by the Jets pass rush and horrific decision making, Allen made several errant throws including one into the arms of Jordan Whitehead. Breece Hall returned from his ACL injury with a monstrous day –including a run of 83 yards – and provided the Jets with an early silver lining.

Even trailing just 13-3 at a half-time, the Jets’ chances for the game and season looked grim (they were 16-1 to win the Super Bowl coming into the game; on Tuesday morning they were 65-1 with some oddsmakers). A number of emotional teammates like Brown, Garrett Wilson, and backup quarterback Zach Wilson sought out Rodgers simply to wish him well and express their love.

Then a funny thing happened …

New York came out in the second half with an elevated display of grit and guts. Their defensive performance was sublime. They demolished Allen with constant pressure (ending with five sacks) and were opportunistic at every turn. Whitehead collected two more interceptions, and the Jets recovered a mishandled snap by Allen with the game tied and 4:47 left in the fourth quarter. Hall powered the running game, and Garrett Wilson made what may end up as the best catch this season on a poor throw by Zach Wilson that easily could have been intercepted.

In appropriate fashion, the Bills offense won the toss in overtime which meant the Jets defense got to do its thing. A penalty, two incompletions, and a James Cook run smothered by Quinnen Williams later, undrafted rookie wideout Xavier Gipson took the ensuing punt to the house and the Jets had won. It was a storybook ending to an otherwise cruel night. MetLife was so raucous that the lights actually went out for a second.

Week 1 is rooted in providing some semblance of answers after months and months of hype and predictions. The Packers’ succession plan showed early promise. The Rams proved they’re not as dead in the water as some prognosticators presumed (ahem). The Jets showed they’re a team that boasts a championship defense and run game. And, on this particular night, they showed they were a team who channeled all the emotion surrounding the Rodgers’ injury into an inspired performance.

“Let’s win this game for Aaron Rodgers,” is what Gipson told MNF’s Lisa Salters he said before his game-winning punt return. Saleh said: “Personally, I don’t hurt for me. I don’t hurt for our locker room, I hurt for Aaron and how much he’s invested in all of this.”

Now the Jets enter the aftermath of what a post-Rodgers season means. Zach Wilson was adequate running Nathaniel Hackett’s play calls, which were watered down for the third-year QB. As great as Hall looked, there’s no way Rodgers would have handed off the ball on third-and-long deep in the fourth quarter when the Jets were looking to put the game away. Ultimately the Jets are going to need some offensive diversity, and precedent offers no reason to believe Wilson, who was awful last season, is the guy to execute a passing attack.

The 2022 San Francisco 49ers blueprint would be the ideal one for Saleh and his men to follow. Like the Jets, they boasted a punishing defense full of playmakers and a dynamic rushing attack. And, like the Jets, they lost a starting quarterback to injury (two, actually). Brock Purdy emerged as a bit of an enigma late in the season, an unknown who could run the offensive scheme with enough precision. (Having Trent Williams as Purdy’s protector doesn’t hurt either.) But there aren’t many Purdys out there, who can come from irrelevance to run a high-powered offense. What there is, is a smattering of known quantities out there who the Jets could pick up. But guys like Carson Wentz, Davis Mills and Colt McCoy inspire about as much confidence as Wilson. Rodgers is irreplaceable.

Will the Jets stick it out with Wilson and hope for the best? Can the defense continue to stymie quarterbacks the way they smothered Allen? With an injured Rodgers, the future of the Jets’ season remains a mystery. What we do know is this edition of the Jets know how to show up big time in the face of adversity.