EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Jets safety Jamal Adams, who took umbrage with the perception that his recent feud with management created a distraction, silenced his critics Sunday with the best game of his career -- including an act of thievery that resulted in a touchdown.
Adams finished with a team-high nine tackles and two sacks in the 34-27 win over the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium, including a strip sack in which he swiped the ball out of Daniel Jones' hands and returned it 25 yards for a score.
Coach Adam Gase and teammates said Adams predicted on the sideline that he'd make a game-changing turnover. He delivered, then used his postgame news conference to say his spat with general manager Joe Douglas, sparked when he found out the Jets had listened to trade offers, actually galvanized the locker room.
Adams took a jab at an unnamed critic, believed to be former teammate Leonard Williams, now a member of the Giants.
"Obviously, this season has been tough," Adams said. "Through all the adversity and all the negative stuff the past two weeks, obviously dealing with me, I'm just happy for this group. I'm happy we jelled together and stayed together.
"It didn't bother our locker room because I've seen a lot of reports with other players saying we have a lot of outside noise. Outside noise is not going to stop us. We blocked it out."
Adams didn't mention the players, but Williams, a few days after he was traded, told the New York Post that the "biggest difference (between the Jets and Giants) is I've noticed how much the outside noise gets into the building over there versus here."
The Adams-Douglas rift hung over the team for two weeks, fueled, in part, by Adams, who said he was so upset that he needed time before discussing the matter with the GM. Adams, Douglas and Gase eventually had a sitdown last Monday, with Adams saying his bitterness was erased.
On Sunday, he couldn't be stopped.
"Before the game, he told us, 'Match my intensity today,'" linebacker Brandon Copeland said. "And he delivered. Not too many players you see can say something like that and deliver."
Adams put the Jets (2-7) ahead, 21-13, when he blitzed the right side of the Giants' offense, defeated a block by running back Saquon Barkley and snatched the ball from Jones' grip. It was a sack, forced fumble, recovery and touchdown, all in one blur.
"He said he was going to do it before he went out there," Gase said. "He was talking on the sideline. He said, 'I'm going to make a turnover.'" Copeland called it an "elite" play, adding, "I've seen Von Miller do that. To see a safety do something like that is special."
Adams, who made his first Pro Bowl last season, has three sacks, two touchdowns and one interception. He spearheaded a defense that held Barkley to one yard on 13 carries.
"Jamal beat me, simple as that," Barkley said of the strip sack. "He's a heck of a player. All Pro. Didn't really want to switch jerseys with him after the game. (I) jokingly told him that. (He's) one of my good friends, one of my boys. Hell of a player. Much respect to him. I got to be better there."
Adams downplayed the play, preferring to share the credit with his teammates. Asked if this was his best game, he shook his head.
"People don't even understand, this is nothing," he said. "I can tap into a whole other level, man. I know what to expect from my play when I do it the right way, when I do what I'm asked to do on the field by my coaches. This is nothing, man. This is just the start."
The outspoken Adams, who admitted recently that he would've welcomed a trade to the Dallas Cowboys, makes headlines with his mouth. But as linebacker Jordan Jenkins said, "He may talk a lot, but if he keeps (making plays), I can deal with it."