Another week, another incredible last second victory. The 2010 New York Jets have turned nerve racking victories into an art form. This might have been the most amazing. This had all the makings of a devasting loss after blowing a 16 point lead. Then came a miracle 5 play, 72 yard touchdown drive in 45 seconds to put this team at 8-2.
More after the jump.
Mark Sanchez: Sanchez was the clear hero of the game. We can start with the final drive where his deadly accurate 42 yard pass to Braylon Edwards gave the Jets a chance. It set up his pinpoint 6 yard touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes in the back left corner of the end zone. It was a fantastic day anyway for Sanchez. He hit 22 of 38 passes for 315 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception. He played this way despite little help from his offensive line, which was missing Damien Woody for much of the afternoon. Sanchez kept buying himself extra time with his feet and ran for 22 yards on 2 rushes. He should also get credit for keeping his head up and making an open field touchdown saving tackle on Shonn Greene's fumble. Games like this are the stuff a franchise quarterback is made of.
There are a lot of people with legitimate concerns about certain aspects of this team. While I agree certain things need to be addressed, the fact of the matter is there are few juggernauts in the NFL. I don't think there are any in 2010. Every single team in the league plays a lot of games that go down to the wire. There is a common thread among those that win a lot of them. They have elite quarterbacks who thrive in the clutch. That's the kind of play the Jets have been getting from Sanchez lately. This is not a league where blowouts are common. We'd all love to see the Jets play perfect in all aspects of the game consistently. I'm not sure how realistic that is, though. Somebody will always be off. Quarterback play is the difference between winning a string of games like this and the three game losing streak this team could easily be on.
Santonio Holmes: I don't think anybody will have any objections to me stating this was his best game as a Jet. Santonio finished with 7 catches, 126 yards, and 2 touchdowns. One of them was the game winner with 10 seconds left. The Texans were afraid to challenge him with their subpar group of cover men in the secondary. They gave him the quick slant all day. He took it all day. He's such a good route runner that he can create separation with the most subtle move anyway. He also showed how dangerous he is after the catch once again like on his 41 yard touchdown catch and run. There were a pair of balls near the boundary where he tapped both feet down with ease. One of them was the game winner. One GGNer commented in the game thread that there's no point in ever reviewing a play near the sideline with Holmes because he always gets two feet in. That's not far off. Off field trouble or not, Mike Tannenbaum should be wanted for robbery in Pittsburgh getting this guy for a fifth round pick.
Braylon Edwards: Houston's league worst pass defense was not much of a match for Braylon, but he took full advantage. He had 4 catches for 86 yards. One of them was for a touchdown. The most clutch grab, though, was the 42 yarder from Sanchez to put the Jets at the 6 with 16 seconds left. He ran a fantastic route. Yes, Jason Allen released too early to the safety, but Braylon put himself in a position to make a play. It might be a cliche by this point, but there is a real chance he drops that ball a season ago. There was no chance this year.
LaDainian Tomlinson: While it was tough sledding in the run game, LT made his presence felt in the passing game with 7 catches for 71 yards. He was very elusive in space. He also made the unheralded play of the game, taking a dump off from Mark Sanchez 19 yards on the final drive. This got the Jets to a point where they could take a realistic shot near the end zone. Edwards' reception came on the next play.
Darrelle Revis: This was not necessarily vintage Revis, and by that I mean perfection. He was beaten deep once by Kevin Walter on a ball Walter dropped. He also got abused by Arian Foster in run support. The bottom line is Andre Johnson had 4 catches for 32 yards. The 20 yard reception was a big one in the second half, but none of the other three were Darrelle's fault. He spent the vast majority of the game checking Johnson. When an elite receiver puts up numbers like that, the corner deserves a ton of praise.
Antonio Cromartie: I need to qualify this a bit. On Joel Dreessen's touchdown, it looked like Cromartie either thought the Jets were in man when they were in zone or got sucked way too far in on a crossing route. That one looked like it was on him either way. Aside from that, the Texans didn't have much success against him. He displayed great ball skills, breaking up a number of passes in his direction.
Nick Folk: I'll say it. If you get on him for coming up a little short on a 53 yard kick, you're being unfair. He hit his other three kicks. Nick is back.
Steve Weatherford: He had a long of 57 and a pair downed inside the 20. His excellent season continues. I haven't had this much faith in a Jets punter since Ben Graham's rookie season.
Shaun Ellis: Ellis was terrific today. He finished with 4 tackles and was constantly disruptive.
Mike Devito: Devito had a typical solid game. He also forced a fumble.
David Harris: Back to top notch play for Harris against the run. He finished with 6 tackles. One of them saved a long run on an all out blitz where Houston handed it off to Arian Foster, and the Jets had nobody behind him.
Jim Leonhard: I have been critical of his punt returns. While his numbers have been good, I think most of them have been the result of a lot of open field. Today's was different. He found holes in traffic on his 30 yarder and made something out of nothing on his 7 yard return. He also made sound fair catch decisions
Mike Westhoff: I like having Leonhard short and Kyle Wilson deep on punt returns. It puts Leonhard's sure hands on a short line drive, which can be tougher to handle than the normal punt and reduces the ground a return man has to run to catch it. With one guy back there, it might be too much ground to cover. The ball can hit the ground and take a big hop.
James Ihedigbo: He was the biggest star on a coverage unit that held the Texans to under 15 yards per kick return. He had 3 tackles in kick coverage.
Shonn Greene: We all know how great his potential is, but these fumbles are getting to the point where it will be difficult for the coaching staff to trust him. With a 13 point lead in the fourth quarter, the most important thing by far for a back is not putting the ball on the ground. It's getting very frustrating. Things avalanched from there.
Defensive Discipline: The Jets bit on way too many bootlegs. That was a factor in their inability to get to Matt Schaub. They go against an offense that runs misdirection plays to an extreme every day in practice. There were a few times when nobody covered Foster on a pass route out of the backfield. Then the Dreessen touchdown was an incredible coverage breakdown. There was a lot to not like from the defense as a unit.
Calvin Pace and Bryan Thomas: I didn't think they did a very good job setting the edge. Foster wasn't doing that well running between the tackles. His big runs were bounced outside where the Jets lost contain.
Robert Turner: Rex laughed in Hard Knocks about how this guy starts fights. That's great until he takes a stupid 15 yard penalty to hurt the team throwing an unnecessary shot after a play is over. Rex doesn't seem to care when guys do this so I doubt we'll see any discipline (sigh).
Offensive Line: The line was not good today. Losing Damien Woody didn't help things, but there were four other guys who underperformed. Houston's defensive front was living in the backfield when Mark Sanchez dropped back in the second half, and it's tough to blame the backs for a 3.3 rushing average when they had no room to run because their linemen weren't hitting the second level.
Wayne Hunter: Asking him to handle Mario Williams coming in from off the bench was a lot to ask. It showed.
Brodney Pool and Eric Smith: I can't say I have a ton of faith in either of these guys in coverage at this point. As somebody said in the game thread, Pool hits hard, but that's only when he gets to the guy he's trying to hit. Given the way the safeties look in coverage, I'm scared of what will happen in New England against the athletic Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez in a few weeks. I said it last week. I'll say it again. This team misses Kerry Rhodes (at least on the field).
Here's a basketball analogy. The Knicks have Amare Stoudemire. He's a great scorer down low. To protect him, though, you need another big man who can clean the glass on rebounds, play good defense, and protect the rim. When Amare doesn't have to do these things, his warts won't show.
Jim Leonhard is Amare in this case. He does a lot well, but he's too small to cover big tight ends effectively. When the Jets had Rhodes to do that last year, it didn't matter. The Jets don't have anybody as strong this year so we have had to see more of Leonhard in coverage (I'm talking more about the season as a whole than anything that happened today when just Pool and Smith didn't look great.).
Brian Schottenheimer: The Texans have the worst pass defense in the league. It was clear their corners could not match up with the receivers the Jets have. The offensive line was getting no push as Gang Green averaged just 3.3 yards per rush. The Jets ran more than they threw today in the actual flow of the game before they had to throw late to play catch up. Twice the Jets started drives after touchdown drives of predominantly passing plays by running it three straight times. Balance is great, but sometimes you need to consider what you are doing well and the weaknesses of the defense. Balance for the sake of balance is self-defeating. Schottenheimer called a horrible game. Don't tell me it's a coincidence the offense played so well in the 2:00 drill when his role was minimized.
Another thing that has been bugging me lately is when the Jets start Tony Richardson split wide and motion him to the fullback position. That makes life tougher on him because he doesn't have as much time to read the front. It doesn't confuse the defense. In fact, I would argue it makes things easier since the Jets always run when they do it. It's also tricky for the offensive players and cost the team a timeout.
It also would have been nice to give Hunter some help since he clearly could not handle Williams on his own. Hunter was left on an island, though.
- Losing Damien Woody for a long time would be a tough blow. I'm very worried. I have no medical training, but the human knee is not built to bend that way. I'm not so sure the fact he was walking is such a good sign either. Kris Jenkins left the field under his own power when he suffered that knee injury. I also saw Woody on the sideline later without his helmet. Usually the medical staff takes a player's helmet away when the injury is so severe that they will not let the player go back in so he can't lobby the coaches. I hope I'm wrong, but I'm feeling bad things.
Make no mistake. The Jets need to start putting teams away. Eventually a bad bounce will go against them if they keep playing these nailbiters. With that said, I hope everybody is impressed with the heart this team shows. The Jets are confident in clutch moments. These struggles have built that confidence. The quality will serve them well. Critical games against the elite teams in the league will almost certainly be close.
I also hope people won't let the negatives override the positives. I'll admit I did this after the Detroit game a couple of weeks back. The fact is almost any other team in the league would love a "lucky" 8-2 record. At some point, winning these games is more than just pure luck. It has been about the quarterback delivering time and again. Think back to the Kotite years. Think to 2005 and 2007. Honestly, how can anybody complain too much about a league best record?