The NFL world witnessed a shocking result on Sunday, as the New York Jets defeated the Denver Broncos 31-21 at Empower Field in Denver. The game was a revenge match for Jets offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, who was fired by Broncos head coach Sean Payton after a dismal 2022 season.
Payton’s harsh words backfire
Payton, who was traded to the Broncos from the New Orleans Saints in exchange for a first- and second-round pick, had criticized Hackett’s performance as the Broncos head coach in an interview with USA Today in July. He said that Hackett’s tenure “might have been one of the worst coaching jobs in the history of the NFL” and took a shot at the Jets for trying to win the offseason.
Payton’s words came back to haunt him on Sunday, as his Broncos team looked sloppy and uninspired against the Jets. The Broncos turned the ball over three times, including a costly fumble by quarterback Russell Wilson that was returned for a touchdown by cornerback Bryce Hall in the final minute of the game. The Broncos also allowed the Jets to rush for 234 yards and gain 407 yards total, with rookie quarterback Zach Wilson throwing for two touchdowns and running for another.
Hackett gets the last laugh
Hackett, who joined the Jets as their offensive coordinator under head coach Robert Saleh, had a much better day than his former boss. He orchestrated a balanced and explosive offense that kept the Broncos defense on their heels. He also received a game ball from Saleh in the locker room after the game, as his players celebrated their first win of the season.
The NFL world also celebrated Hackett’s victory, as many fans and analysts roasted Payton on social media for his arrogant and disrespectful comments. Some of the tweets included:
- when you lose to the “offseason champs”
- Sean Payton talked all that smack on Nathaniel Hackett… only to lose to him with Zach freaking Wilson at QB. LOL Broncos
- Sean Payton loses at home to Zack Wilson and Nathaniel Hackett. Lowest of lows. Can’t happen
- Sean Payton: “Nathaniel Hackett did one of the worst coaching jobs in NFL history” Nathaniel Hackett at midfield today:
- Someone tell Sean Payton that this is one of the worst coaching jobs in the history of the NFL
- Sean Payton: It might have been one of the worst coaching jobs in the history of the NFL. Nathaniel Hackett:
- Nathaniel Hackett when he sees Sean Payton after the game
- Hackett postgame interview to Sean Payton
Broncos in trouble, Jets in hope
The loss dropped the Broncos to 1-4 on the season, with their only win coming from a 21-point comeback against the Chicago Bears in Week 2. The Broncos have now lost to the Jets, Las Vegas Raiders and Washington Commanders at home, while giving up 70 points in a road loss to the Miami Dolphins. Their offense has been inconsistent and their defense has been porous, raising questions about Payton’s leadership and coaching ability.
The Jets, on the other hand, improved to 1-3 on the season, with their first win coming against a team that many expected to be a Super Bowl contender. The Jets showed signs of life and potential, with Wilson displaying his arm talent and mobility, and their running game and defense stepping up. The Jets may not be ready to compete for a playoff spot yet, but they have given their fans some hope and excitement for the future.