It certainly has a different feel from a year ago. Still, the Jets have handed the NFL last unbeaten team its first loss of the season. In the process, they stayed alive, asserted control of their own destiny, and went back over .500 with today's 29-15 win over the Colts in Indianapolis. Sure the Colts pulled their starters. It would have been nice to win with Peyton Manning playing four quarters. The Jets still had to make the plays. They couldn't control which players Jim Caldwell sent on the field. Any win at this point of the season should put a smile on your face. This isn't college football. There are no style points.
More after the jump.
Shonn Greene: Greene did great work banging out tough yardage and accelerating once he found a hole. He ended the game with 95 yards on 16 carries. The rookie has struggled with fumbles, but he had a huge day in the biggest game of the year.
Sticking With Greene: I'll give the coaching staff some credit for riding Greene harder than they usually do because of how well he was running with the ball. It's nice to see a little flexibility to stay with the hot hand.
Thomas Jones: Greene's play kept Jones rested for the home stretch. TJ read his blocks well and finished with yet another 100 yard day (105 on 23 carries and a touchdown).
Mark Sanchez: This is what the Jets need out of Sanchez. Protect the football and hit safe open passes. You could see the wheels turning in his head on some throws. He was about to throw it, saw his man covered, pulled it down and looked to the next target.
Offensive Line: An offensive line this good should push around a bunch of backups. Well the Jets did this down the stretch, opening big holes for Jones and Greene with the game on the line. They get credit for this. With one notable exception, the unit did great work pass blocking. They get some of the credit for Sanchez not having to rush his throws and getting time to go through his progressions to find the open man.
Bryan Thomas: Had the Colts kept their starters in, that blocked extra point might have been the difference. He also had 6 tackles in an usually productive outing.
Dwight Lowery: He was very good all day. Dwight was the one Jet who played well in coverage on Dallas Clark. He had the interception that just about iced it in the fourth off Curtis Painter.
Calvin Pace: He missed tackles and got himself out of position against the starters. Still, he had the big sack and forced fumble that put the Jets ahead.
Defense Against Painter: Curtis Painter is an overwhelmed young quarterback. Beating up on him wasn't too tough. The defense still did its job.
Brad Smith: His 106 kickoff return touchdown sent a message this was going to be a real game.
Brian Schottenheimer: Lost in all of the noise about pulling starters is the lousy game he called. He came out and threw it three straight times. The first half was full of outside runs, empty backfield, and throwing it with the top rushing attack in football and league leader in interceptions. Calling runs East and West against a small, fast defense is a bad idea. The Colts can run. The idea should have been to pound them up the middle and wear them down. We didn't know Indianapolis planned to sit Peyton Manning. The idea should have been to keep Manning off the field and tire the defensive front out. This shouldn't have been a time to have Sanchez put the ball up and try to outscore Manning.
D'Brickashaw Ferguson: Forgetting to account for a defense end is never all right. It's even worse when that defensive end is Dwight Freeney. It's even worse when it happens twice. D'Brickashaw has been great this year, but this was an absolutely brutal performance.
Lito Sheppard: Burned consistently by Austin Collie and Hank Baskett. Collie was starting to look like Wes Welker.
Missed Tackles on Brown and Addai: There were a lot of arm tackles on Indianapolis' running backs.
- This was arguably Darrelle Revis' worst game of the year. Let's put it in perspective, though. Reggie Wayne only had 3 catches for 33 yards. Revis' coverage wasn't that bad. Even when Wayne was open, the ball had to get through a tight window.
- We can thank Jim Caldwell for pulling his starters. Let's also thank him for chasing points going for 2 early in the third quarter. I still can't figure that one out. It's too early to go for 2.
- My preference would be to not give those has been's, the 1972 Dolphins, a reason to brag. I feel like the Colts are kind of our allies. Our two teams have a mutual bitter enemy, the Patriots. Don't get me wrong, though. It had to be done. The Jets winning is more important than those secondary issues.
- I can't help but question Indianapolis' move. I know you can say the most important thing is to win it all. I'm not sure pulling the starters is the best way to get there. I think at a certain point, you don't want to lose the invincibility of a perfect season. It may do more harm than good. I also wonder about getting out of a rhythm. Sure, you want to avoid injuries, but football players are conditioned to play every week. Winning every week becomes a habit. Is it worth breaking that habit? Time will tell. I don't think there's any perfect approach. Different things may work for different teams. Still, I don't think it's a given resting guys sets a team up for the best success.
The Jets don't have to apologize to anybody. They had to come out with more points and did so. They couldn't control who they played. They could only control what happened against those players. This may not have been the confidence builder beating Peyton Manning in four quarters would have been, but the most important thing is 8-7. The Jets control their own destiny because they've taken care of business over the course of the season better than the teams behind them. It's not because of one game.