The Jets officially arrived as a Super Bowl contender on Sunday. New York thrashed the previously undefeated Titans by a 34-13 margin on their home field. The Jets are now 8-3 and trail Tennessee by only two games for homefield advantage throughout the AFC Playoffs. The only bad thing about this game is that it officially means we have to deal with the 1972 Dolphins for another year.
Brett Favre: The difference between a nice Playoff team and a legitimate contender is determined in road games like the Jets have played in the past two weeks. Favre followed his masterful Thursday night in Foxborough with another tremendous performance. Brett hit his first eight passes in leading the Jets to an opening drive touchdown, asserting control over the game the team would never relinquish. He finished 25 for 32 with 224 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception. Brett did not lock onto one target. Four Jets had at least 3 receptions and three had at least six. After a critical Chris Johnson fumble in the third quarter, Favre stuck the ball in the end zone for a back-breaking touchdown. People can talk about Chad Pennington's numbers all they want. Chad is a good player and an even better person. However, the manner in which Favre controlled this game cannot be counted by statistics. Even had the defense not been dominant, Brett still would have found a way to win the game.
Leon Washington: The man emerging as an elite big play threat had a pair of rushing touchdowns, including a 61 yard scamper to put the Jets up by 21 in the fourth quarter. The Jets had an awful season in 2007. It never made much sense why the Jets did not try to get their best playmaker more involved with the offense. This year, Leon has certainly rewarded the club for doing so.
Short Passing Game: Kudos for the coaching staff for making a point of spreading the field and getting the ball out quickly. It exposed blitzes and allowed Favre to make his throw before the Titans had a chance to reach him.
Both Fronts: Both the Jets and the Titans are strongest in the trenches. The Jets won the war on both offense and defense. The Titans did not generate much of a pass rush on Favre all game. The short passing philosophy helped in pass protection, but the line deserves a fair share of credit. Without Washington's run, the rushing numbers do not look overly impressive, but the unit did get a consistent push against a tough line. An offense cannot move as consistently as the Jets' did without good work up front.
Defensively, the front seven was just as successful. If a 24 yard run by Chris Johnson is taken out, the Titans ran for under 3 yards per carry. That and the score made Tennessee one-dimensional. Kerry Collins is better than a lot of people give him credit for being, but opposing teams want the game in his hands over the Tennessee rushing offense. Sometimes he will do the job as he did in Jacksonville and Chicago. This week, he did not.
The Jets win by three touchdowns on the home field of the best team in football, and you honestly expect me to complain about Leon Washington's fumble? This team can take nothing bad from its performance.
The rest of the road is clear for the Jets. They have three home games left against inconsistent opponents and two road games against awful teams. It is all coming together for Gang Green. After this win, fans have to be confident their team can beat anybody in any environment. The Jets established themselves as the clear team to beat in the AFC with this triumph.