If you ever were wondering how illogical the NFL can be, just look at the last eight days. A week ago the Jets lost to a then winless Steelers team. Today the Jets defeated the mighty 5-1 Patriots, a team coming off a win over a then undefeated Saints team. Isn't this league wild? The Jets are now 4-3. Some pundits didn't think they would win 4 games all year. Join me below as we recap another thriller in the Meadowlands.
Nick Folk: Folk got to play hero again with his third game-winning kick of the year, this one a 42 yarder in overtime. He was bailed out by a penalty that wiped out what would have been his first miss of the year just moments earlier from 56 yards. He also added a pair of 37 yarders, and even though the weather was cool in the low 50's, he still added a few more touchbacks to his total on kickoffs.
Jeremy Kerley: Kerley added 8 catches for 97 yards. Of those 8 catches, 7 were on third down. 6 of his receptions resulted in a first down, and another resulted in a touchdown. He ran good routes to get open. He made nice moves a few times to get to the sticks on key plays on important drives. This was the playmaker the Jets need Kerley to be.
David Nelson: He had 4 receptions for 80 yards, and two of them were absolute circus grabs on important series. He was the big bodied target the Jets were hoping he would be.
Geno Smith: Even though he gets credit with another game winning drive, crunch time really was not about Geno. He led some really nice drives early in the game and made some throws that helped the Jets score to stay within shouting distance in the first half. He also made a pair of brilliant scrambles on New York's final touchdown drive. A second effort got him to the sticks to finish a 14 yard scramble on third and 14. That set up an 8 yard touchdown scramble. On the play nobody was open. It looked like Geno would just go forward and get a few extra yards because there were no blockers and two Patriots between him and the end zone. He made enough jukes to score while barely being touched. I do not think Geno's mobility will be featured with this offense. It is not a good idea to expose quarterbacks to hits, but his ability as a runner adds an extra dimension, allowing the Jets to gain yardage on plays where there should be none to be gained.
Unfortunately, there was also another pick six on an ugly force to a blanketed receiver. Some of Geno's mistakes can be termed rookie mistakes. Not that one. On any level, that is a ball that cannot be thrown. I'm starting to think that even if Geno becomes a quality starter, he might be a Tony Romo kind of guy, somebody who makes the big play but also the catastrophic error. That isn't an insult. You can win with Tony Romo in this league, and Geno does seem to rise in the big moment in a way maybe Romo doesn't. It's just a matter of making enough big plays and limiting the big errors enough that the good outweighs the bad. It did today, and the Jets won.
Marty Mornhinweg: I thought the Jets got way too conservative in overtime and played for too long of a field goal, but there were two things Marty did that I really liked. First is he didn't get away from the run game when it wasn't working. It would have been easy to do, but he committed to it. The Jets took some losses. Then late in the fourth quarter and in overtime, it seemed like they had worn out New England's front, and they pounded the football. I've been saying since the offseason the Jets need to run to win. Sometimes that means getting frustrated for a long time until it finally pays dividends.
I also liked how the Jets attacked in their last series in the fourth quarter. They could have slammed it into the line twice, punted and given Tom Brady the ball back with 2:00 and a timeout. That wasn't a very good option. Instead they threw it trying to pick up first downs and never give Brady the ball back. It failed, but that was because New England made a nice play, and Jeff Cumberland dropped a ball. I hate it when teams play not to lose.
Chris Ivory: 34 carries is not the most efficient path to 104 yards, but Ivory seemed to wear the Patriots out with his pounding style. He got stronger as the game went along and had some really key runs late in the game. You'd like to see more effective running early, but you also want your back to finish strong.
Offensive Line: This is me being really nice because it was a spotty effort both run blocking and pass blocking much of the way, but they wore down the New England front, which led to success when the Jets needed it most.
Muhammad Wilkerson: He's the best player on the team, and he took the game over in the second half. New England only had 6 points after the break, and they could not block Wilkerson. He was making plays as a pass rusher and against the run at the line of scrimmage on his way to 5 tackles and a sack.
Damon Harrison: The Pats also had a handful blocking him in the second half. He had 2 tackles and a sack. I didn't see a ton of halftime adjustments from the Jets. I just thought they executed a ton better on defense in the second half, and the two linemen led the way.
Antonio Cromartie: You barely heard his name, and that is usually a good thing for a cornerback.
Antonio Allen: He led the Jets with 9 tackles. At halftime, they were really. They needed a big play to turn the game around, and he delivered with a pick six. It was a really good return. A lesser return would not have resulted in a touchdown. It also looked like he drew Rob Gronkowski in single coverage a lot. Gronkowski had 8 catches for 114 yards, but that was not all on Allen's watch. He got Allen a few times, but Allen held up a lot better than would have been expected. The safety also made a subtle important move. He pulled Cromartie away when Cromartie was jawing at a receiver after a play late in the fourth to prevent a potential personal foul.
Josh Cribbs: The knee looks good. He was effective out of the Wildcat with 3 carries for 14 yards. He also had a 21 yard punt return to set up a field goal. With a rookie quarterback, a return man who can flip field position and ask the offense to do less can be an enormous asset.
Demario Davis: 9 tackles, including a key stop on a third and short in the second half.
Rex Ryan: What I'm about to say is a slippery slope because a team executing better makes it seem like they are playing with more intensity. With that said, it seemed like the Jets had a fire lit under them after halftime. There didn't seem to be a ton of X's and O's adjustments, but this team played its best ball at the start of the half, and that might be due to coaching.
Jeff Cumberland: His teammates bailed him out because he would have been the top goat had the Jets lost. He dropped three balls. One was a touchdown on a drive the Jets later scored a touchdown. Another was on a third down that would have extended the drive the Jets were trying to use to run out the clock.
Dee Milliner: Milliner might be a good cornerback one day, but today he is a liability. Tom Brady was making it a point to go after him. He's struggling to get his jams. He's struggling to find the ball. It just isn't working right now. With a better throw, he might have allowed a game-winning touchdown late in the fourth on a play where his man got behind him. It might be time to develop Milliner exclusively on the practice field.
Ryan Quigley: His last punt was good and forced New England to drive a long way to tie it, but he was spraying it all over the field otherwise and a bad punt led to a 38 yard Julian Edelman return to set up a Pats touchdown.
So in this make or break five game stretch, the Jets are 2-1. They will be at worst coming out of their bye for what appears on paper to be a very manageable home stretch no worse than a game under .500. What we've seen suggests this is a middle of the pack club, one that can beat or lose to anybody. If nothing else, it will make every single week interesting.