One of the only bright spots for the Jets on Thursday night in Indianapolis was the performance of rookie wideout Elijah Moore.
Not only did Moore catch the first touchdown pass of his career, the wideout hauled in a second touchdown, setting new career highs with 84 receiving yards on seven grabs.
Moore's first touchdown came in the first quarter on a perfectly executed wheel route. As Jamison Crowder cut inside, influencing Colts cornerback Xavier Rhodes to vacate the far sideline, quarterback Mike White was able to hit a wide-open Moore in stride with ease.
In the third quarter, with third-string quarterback Josh Johnson under center, Moore tacked on another 19-yard touchdown grab. This time, the Ole Miss product was open cutting across the field, snagging a bullet from Johnson at the five yard line before tumbling over the goal line.
Over the first seven weeks of the season, Moore was a nonfactor. He missed time with a concussion and was held to one catch or less in three of his first five games.
That all changed last week when Moore broke through with a six-catch, 67-yard day in New York's upset victory over the Bengals. Now, in his last eight quarters, Moore has accumulated 151 receiving yards on 13 catches (and 14 targets).
“Elijah has had back-to-back good games," Jets head coach Robert Saleh told reporters after the loss on Thursday. "The offense in general, all of them, they’re playing at a high level. The o-line has been doing a really nice job protecting. Obviously, that defensive line is not easy to block and I thought our offensive line did a fantastic job, especially in protection. The receivers are running routes at a high level. They’re efficient, they’re running off the ball, they’re getting in and out of their breaks and the quarterbacks are doing a great job getting them the football.”
Asked specifically what contributed to this surge in production over the last two weeks, Moore delivered a concise reply.
"More opportunity," he said. "I feel like the more games I've played, the more comfortable I get."
It certainly has helped Moore's case that top wideout Corey Davis has been sidelined with a hip injury these last two weeks. Davis averaged seven targets per game through the first six contests of the season.
Plus, White and Johnson were able to dink and dunk in these last two games, taking what the defense gave them. Mixed with his route running and speed, Moore has been able to make plays with his feet once the football is already in his hands. Out of the rookie's 230 receiving yards this year, 82 of them have come after the catch.
Only time will tell how much of an impact Moore makes when Davis (and rookie quarterback Zach Wilson) return from their respective injuries, possibly as soon as this coming weekend against the Bills.
Either way, these last two weeks should show Saleh, offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur and everyone in New York's quarterback room what Moore is capable of and why they should do their best to get him the ball.
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