Journeyman Austin Walter has his Jets prayers answered

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HOUSTON — On Saturday night at the Marriott Marquis in downtown Houston — the Jets’ team hotel for their game against the Texans — Austin Walter and his mother, Dian, prayed together. 

On Sunday, after a 21-14 Jets win over the Texans at NRG Stadium, they cried together. 

A 3-8 team headed for an 11th consecutive year without a playoff appearance — as the Jets are — needs a feel-good story every once in awhile to numb the negativity. 

Here’s one for the 3-8 Jets: Walter, a 25-year-old, 5-foot-8, 202-pound wrecking ball of a running back packed with perseverance. 

When Walter woke up in New Jersey on Saturday morning and went to the team walk-through before it would depart for Houston, he was a member of the practice squad — a journeyman hopeful who had appeared in five NFL games with one carry for 3 yards and one reception for 27 yards. 

It was at the walk-through where Walter was informed he was being elevated to the game roster. 

By Sunday afternoon, with the Jets scuffling on offense, rookie quarterback Zach Wilson looking like a player with a bum knee who hadn’t played in a month and the team trailing a bad Texans team, 14-3, there was Walter bursting into the end zone from 2 yards out with 1:13 remaining before the half to cut the deficit to 14-11. 

It was Walter’s first NFL touchdown and it answered one of the prayers he and his mother shared the night before. 

Jets
Austin Walter scores his first career touchdown.
Getty Images

“My mom said yesterday she could feel that I was going to score today and you know a mother’s intuition … mothers always know best,’’ Walter said. 

“We prayed that God protect him from all injury, harm and danger … and that he makes it into that end zone,’’ Walter’s mother, Dian, was telling The Post an hour after the game as she waited outside the stadium with friends and family for a quick visit with her son before the team buses would depart. “I did tell him he was going to score. I said, ‘I’m going to scream so loud when you make it into that end zone.’ ” 

So, he did. 

Walter gave the Jets life when their offense looked lifeless. 

“I wasn’t going to be denied,’’ he said of the touchdown. 

Walter finished with 38 yards on nine carries and that magical touchdown, and he did it at home. He grew up in Houston and played his college ball at Rice University, which is 2 miles from NRG Stadium. 

“It’s been a lot of emotions I’ve been feeling,’’ Walter said after the game. “This was a homecoming to me. Being here my whole life and for this to be the place that I get my first career touchdown … I know my dad is in heaven smiling down on me.’’ 

Tony Walter wasn’t outside the stadium with Dian on Sunday afternoon, waiting to embrace his son after he scored that first career TD. He died in his sleep of congestive heart failure at age 55 in 2017 when Walter and his twin brother, Aston, were both playing at Rice. 

“I know that he had the best seat in the house,’’ Austin said. “He was the one that allowed me to get to this position, so I know he’s in heaven looking down at me saying that my hard work paid off.” 

Austin Walter
Jets-Texans was a homecoming for Austin Walter, who grew up in Houston and played at Rice.
Trask Smith/CSM/REX/Shutterstock

When Austin was 4, he told his parents he wanted to play football. 

“Football was something he wanted to do and he asked me to find him a team, so I found a team,’’ Dian said. 

Two years later at age 6, Walter joined another little league team named the Jets and he won a Super Bowl with them. 

Honest. 

When he was in fifth grade, Walter and his family went on a field trip to New York and “he fell in love with New York,’’ Dian recalled. “He said, ‘One day I’m going to live here.’ Everything is coming to fruition. I’m just so excited for him, because he’s been waiting for his opportunity.’’ 

The opportunity came when rookie running back Michael Carter, the Jets’ leading rusher, suffered an ankle injury last week and is expected to be out for a few weeks. 

“You always have to be ready for your moment,’’ Walter said. “When you get your opportunity, you have to do everything you can to make it last. When coach kept calling my number I was like, ‘You know what, if I’m going to stay up here, stay at the big dance, I’ve got to make the most out of my opportunity.’ 

“I hope I did that.’’ 

He did more than that. He answered a prayer. 

“When we prayed together at the hotel last night, his whole thing was, ‘Mom, why settle for God’s gift when He wants to give you His best?’ ’’ Dian said. “I said, ‘God has you.’ He texted me today before the game and said, ‘God’s got me. I’m ready.’ ’’ 

Boy was he.

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