They’ve had some prolific receiving tandems in their history, most notably Al Toon-Wesley Walker and Keyshawn Johnson-Wayne Chrebet over the past three decades. But the New York Jets never had a duo that scored as many touchdowns in the same season as Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall.
Decker scored his 10th touchdown in Saturday night’s 19-16 win over the Dallas Cowboys, making it 21 between him and Marshall -- a new team mark. They passed Toon-Walker (1986) and Don Maynard-Art Powell (1960).
Marshall was held out of the end zone for only the fourth game, but he managed to grab a piece of an individual record. With four catches for 74 yards, he tied Toon’s team record for most receptions in a season -- 93. Marshall increased his yardage total to 1,261, third on the Jets’ all-time list in a single season.
It has come together quickly for Marshall, Decker and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. This is their first season together, but they’ve developed chemistry in a short amount of time. Fitzpatrick missed much of the offseason as he recovered from a broken leg, so it’s not like they had a lot of reps in the spring. But you can’t tell, can you?
After the win, the Jets’ fourth straight, Marshall and Decker seemed more excited about their backups, Quincy Enunwa and Kenbrell Thompkins, than their own accomplishments. Enunwa made a third-and-14 conversion to set up Decker’s touchdown in the fourth quarter and Thompkins put them in range for the game-winning field goal with a 43-yard reception with less than a minute to play.
“The more Fitz gets comfortable with them, the more we can spread defenses out and they can’t take away certain things,” Decker said.
Talk about an unlikely pair. Enunwa and Thompkins entered the game with only 26 catches between them. The only reason Thompkins was in uniform was because rookie Devin Smith was placed on injured reserve.
Thompkins probably deserved to play ahead of Smith in recent weeks, but he got caught in a situation where the coaches wanted to force-feed Smith, a second-round draft pick. Thompkins has a history. Two years ago, he scored a last-second, game-winning touchdown to lift the New England Patriots over the New Orleans Saints.
On Saturday, he told Fitzpatrick early in the game the Dallas cornerbacks were sloppy in their Cover 2 technique. Keep an eye on me, Thompkins kept telling him. Fitzpatrick didn’t forget, looking for him on a first down from their 31 with a minute to play. He beat cornerback Byron Jones down the sideline and the safety was late with deep help.
Thompkins made it more dramatic than it needed to be, bobbling the ball at full speed. It says something that he and Fitzpatrick were able to communicate and connect despite minimal practice time together.
“A lot of guys aren’t household names, but they’re stepping up and making plays,” linebacker Calvin Pace said. “That’s what you have to have to make a run, to get in the tournament.”