This is a game I want to re-watch. There are a lot of positives and a lot of negatives to take away from this game. Some general notes, before we get to the Good, Bad, and the Ugly. I decided to name this game the Game of Inches Bowl. If you've ever seen the movie Any Given Sunday, you know that football is a game of inches. A few more inches our way, and we would have won.
First, there is simply no way that report about 12,000 seats being vacant was true. I wasn't there, but that stadium sure seemed to be rocking. Second, I loved the team's aggressiveness last night. With our backs to the wall, the team seemingly opened up the playbook and went all out. Third, the team we just lost to is 5-0. I want a win in every game we play, but there just isn't any shame in losing, especially close like that, to arguably the best team in the league. Any Given Sunday, I suppose.
- Antonio Cromartie was simply unreal. He blanketed Andre Johnson in a way that was very reminiscent of Darrelle Revis. I'm pretty sure Johnson had only one catch, and it was with Bart Scott in coverage on a zone. Cromartie talked a big game, and then put his money where his mouth it. Great interception, and almost great catch. Too bad the sideline got in the way. Actually, it's probably a good thing, because if he caught that inbounds, I'd probably have started flipping tables.
- Our receivers were a mixed bag. Jeremy Kerley, on the one hand, was amazing. He really stepped it up. Chaz Schilens, except for the dropped onside kick, looked good. On the other hand, Jason Hill's dropped pass from Tim Tebow was a killer. Clyde Gates I believe dislocated his shoulder, but that was popped back in and he should be fine. I'll give them the good because they were overachieving for their talent level, but the one seriously bad part of them were the dropped passes. With good receivers, we would have won this game.
- Mark Sanchez. I expect this to be controversial, and rightly so. However, considering the receivers he was throwing to and the pressure being applied by J.J. Watt, I'll give him a slide for this game. His touchdown throw to Jeff Cumberland was an absolutely perfect throw. He has entirely way too many swatted balls, but this week it's hard to blame him because of the unreal way Watt is playing. He proved that he deserves to be the starting QB for at least another few weeks. This is a top defense in the league. All things considered, I'm not unhappy with Sanchez this week.
- Joe McKnight's kick return. The guys I was watching with must have thought I was crazy the way I was screaming. How does this guy not touch the ball more often? He's unbelievable. What a huge play.
- Tim Tebow. The ways that they use him is still weird, but he had a great throw to Jason Hill that was dropped, and an awesome converted fake punt. That throw though was absolutely perfect in every way. Unreal that Hill dropped it. Unreal.
- The aggressiveness of the play-calling. I loved the fake punt. I loved the onside kick. If Schilens had held onto it instead of let it slip through his arms, Rex Ryan would be a hero. There's a quote from Rex after the game, in which he took responsibility for the call, when he said, "I came here to win." That's the attitude, Rex! I thought he lost it with his weight loss, but I like that aggressive attitude. Empty the playbook. Make teams spend time planning for stuff like that.
- I didn't hear Kyle Wilson's name called, at all. Without having watched the film again, I'm going to venture to say his coverage was pretty good and that's why I didn't hear it. Then again, maybe I just mentally blocked it out. I don't know.
- Vlad Ducasse was generally pretty good. He's about to completely supplant Matt Slauson as the left guard.
- I was impressed with how much our defense was able to confuse Matt Schaub with only a few people rushing. They didn't get to him all that often, but he was forced to throw it away numerous times due to generally airtight coverage. Reminiscent of the playoffs from two years ago against Indianapolis and New England.
- Kenrick Ellis' injury. I believe he had a knee injury? We'll see what the details with that are but we can't afford to have him go down for extended time. With Sione Po'uha's injury as well, this will mean more time for Damon Harrison.
- Nick Mangold's injury. Mangold came back into the game, but let's hope his ankle is fine. We all saw what happened last year to the team when Mangold was out. If he has to miss time, expect Slauson to start in his place, who is a much better option than Colin Baxter was.
- Our run game is so bad. Again, I need to watch the film again, but it doesn't look to me like our line is getting much push at all. Considering how bad our running backs are, our line is going to need to pave the way to get any yards. But for now, ground and pound is a myth.
- Our run defense started off bad in the first half, then got much better in the second. I saw some really good form tackles and some bad ones. I'll console myself with the fact that it's Arian Foster, arguably the best running back in the league.
- I blame Jeff Cumberland entirely for the last interception. The ball hit him directly in the hands, there is zero justification for knocking it up like it's a volleyball.
- There actually wasn't much ugly tonight. Maybe I'll go with the blown coverage on their first touchdown. The way Cromartie got turned around leads me to believe that was a blown coverage, but I'm not sure yet.
- Some of the clock management was pretty terrible, with the 12 men on the field and the misuse of timeouts.
One thing we can say about this team is that they do not quit. I'm honestly not that upset that the team lost. This was against the best team in the league. Watt is an absolute monster. I'm not ready to blame the game on Sanchez though. We were one onside kick recovery, Cumberland reception etc., from a victory. There were a lot of points that the game could have turned on, but last night wasn't our night.
After last week, we could have gone on national TV and gotten our teeth kicked in. Heck, most people expected us to. And yet, that was a close, gutty game. A lot of us had this penciled in as a loss even before or as the season began, and we're only 2-3 through our toughest stretch of the season. Look back and consider some of the teams, some of the defenses we've played. In the next three weeks before the by, we play the Indianapolis Colts, the New England Patriots, and the Miami Dolphins. If we can come out with a win in two of those, we'll be 4-4 headed into the bye. Considering how much easier our schedule gets in the second half of the season, we could be in good shape from that point on.