EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Zach Wilson overcame a sluggish start, some big hits and a week of criticism and controversy by responding with the type of impressive performance the New York Jets have long been expecting.
Wilson threw a pair of second-half touchdown passes in his return from a two-game benching, New York shut down C.J. Stroud before Houston's star rookie quarterback left late with a concussion and the Jets ended a five-game losing streak with a 30-6 victory over the Texans on Sunday.
"Winning is always fun and that's what we want right there," Wilson said. "That's what we want every game to look like."
Wilson was 27 of 36 for 301 yards -- his third career game of 300 or more yards -- after sitting in favor of the since-waived Tim Boyle. And that came despite Wilson facing consistent pressure all game and being sacked four times.
"The second half, I thought Zach probably played the best game of his career," coach Robert Saleh said. "I thought he was outstanding today."
Breece Hall and Randall Cobb caught touchdown passes and Xavier Gipson ran for a score for the Jets (5-8), who reached 30 points for just the second time this season and first since beating Denver 31-21 in Week 5.
Wilson found himself in the headlines early in the week when The Athletic reported he was reluctant to step back into his role as the starter, something he denied later in the week. Saleh, Aaron Rodgers and several teammates defended Wilson, who has been benched three times in his three seasons.
But on Sunday -- especially in the second half -- Wilson played up to the expectations of being the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 draft.
"I mean, he balled, man," said Garrett Wilson, who caught nine passes for 108 yards. "Zach went crazy today."
Stroud left with 6:30 remaining when he was hit by Quinnen Williams, fell backward and his head appeared to bounce off the MetLife Stadium turf. He was examined briefly on the sideline before he walked to the locker room. Stroud, who's in the concussion protocol, was done for the game and Davis Mills replaced him.
"He's really like the light of our team," tight end Brevin Jordan said. "He's a guy who came in here and brought a lot of moxie, a lot of swag. To see him go down is tough, but it's football. The next man got to be up and ready to go."
Stroud, who came in leading the NFL in yards passing, was unable to do much against an aggressive Jets defense. He was just 10 of 23 for a season-low 91 yards before leaving with the head injury. The Texans (7-6) finished with just 135 total yards and went 1 for 12 on third down.
Now, they'll have to see if Stroud will be ready for next Sunday's game against AFC South-rival Tennessee.
"We'll see how he progresses throughout the week," Houston coach DeMeco Ryans said.
The Jets finally broke through in the scoreless game on their opening drive of the second half when Zach Wilson found Cobb for a 15-yard touchdown.
The suddenly TD-happy Jets struck again on their next drive with Gipson taking a handoff and zipping into the end zone for a 9-yard score that made it 14-0 -- New York's largest lead of the season to that point -- with 4:31 left in the third quarter.
New York was driving again on its next possession, but Zach Wilson scrambled for 11 yards before Christian Harris knocked the ball out of the quarterback's hands and Khalil Davis recovered.
Stroud and the Texans took advantage, quickly moving downfield on passes of 26 yards to Andrew Beck and 23 to Brevin Jordan. A pass interference call on Tony Adams in the end zone put the ball at the 1 and Devin Singletary ran up the middle for a touchdown.
After Matt Ammendola missed the extra point, Zach Wilson and the Jets bounced back from the turnover by marching down the field on their next possession. A wide-open Hall took a pass 3 yards for a touchdown to make it 21-6 with 9:27 remaining.
"It's easy to ignore all the noise when you're able to do that," Zach Wilson said.
Neither team could get anything going in the first half in the driving rain, the first time there was a scoreless first two quarters since San Francisco beat Washington 9-0 in Week 7 of the 2019 season.
It was the first time the Texans played in a scoreless first half, and the first for the Jets since Week 4 in 2007 in a 17-14 loss to Buffalo.
The teams combined for 11 punts -- six by Houston, five by New York -- and just 10 first downs -- five by each.
"You go out and you play that way and don't make plays, you don't deserve to win the football game," Ryans said.
Texans: With Houston already playing without WR Tank Dell (broken leg), WR Nico Collins went out early with an injured calf. ... CB Tavierre Thomas and LB Blake Cashman had hamstring injuries in the first half and didn't return. ... DE Will Anderson had an ankle injury in the fourth quarter.
Jets: RT Max Mitchell injured a shoulder in the second half.
Texans: Travel to Tennessee to take on the Titans next Sunday.
Jets: Head to Miami to face the AFC East-rival Dolphins next Sunday.
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