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Jets 24 Broncos 20: Mile High Survival

The Jets are 5-1 and head into their bye on a 5 game winning streak as a result of today's 24-20 victory over the Denver Broncos a mile above sea level today. This was a very gutty win for the club. There was a lot going against Gang Green heading into this game. Heading to Denver is not an easy trip under any circumstances. After an emotional win and a short week, it is really tough, particularly considering the effort with which the Broncos played today. The Jets made enough plays down the stretch, though to win the game.

More after the jump.

The Good:

LaDainian Tomlinson: Denver stacked the box for much of the game and bottled him up. When the Jets gave him room to run in crunch time, though, he finished his runs. His touchdown runs of 20 and 2 in the fourth quarter won the game.

Matt Slauson: I thought his block was the key one on the winning touchdown run.

Mark Sanchez: The numbers are not particularly impressive. He was inconsistent for much of the game. He threw his first 2 interceptions and had a few others dropped. The thing about the quarterback position is a guy can redeem himself with a clutch drive to win the game. Sanchez hit some key passes on the clutch drive. He also bought himself some extra time on the key fourth down play and with nobody open put the ball where his receiver had a chance to either make a play or draw a penalty. The end result was his first fourth quarter comeback win. One of my issues with Sanchez has always been that he's great when things are going well, buthe lets bad moments snowball. This was the first time I really saw him dust himself off the mat, shake off some struggles, and deliver in the big moments.

What went wrong early? You name it. He forced the ball on 3 early throws, 1 of which was picked off. The second interception came because he stared down his receiver, which allowed the route to be jumped. His accuracy was also off consistently. Mark isn't always going to play like he did against New England and Miami. Sometimes the Jets just need him to be good in the key moments.

Santonio Holmes: Holmes is another guy who redeemed himself on the final drive. His fumble looked like it was going to prove costly. Had he either cut left or right, he would have had a huge gain on that end around. With some luck, he might have even scored. Instead, he ran into Braylon Edwards and put it on the ground.

How did he respond? He made a fantastic third down catch for 13 yards on the final drive and drew the pass interference call that set the Jets up for the winning score.

Shonn Greene: On a day where the Broncos were consistently putting 8 and 9 men in the box and forcing Mark Sanchez to throw it, Greene's bruising running style grinding out extra yardage was bound to be more effective than LaDainian Tomlinson's. Greene had 43 yards on 9 carries.

Brad Smith: He didn't make all of the right reads when he came in to run the option, but the package was effective. Brad had 3 runs for 18 yards.

Pass Blocking: Denver had a sack, but it felt like Sanchez had all day to throw on the vast majority of his dropbacks.

Dustin Keller: I wish Sanchez looked his way more in this one. When he did, Dustin had 3 catches for 75 yards.

Braylon Edwards: The scoring began on his 32 yard touchdown catch. Even at his advanced age, beating Champ Bailey is impressive.

Antonio Cromartie: I'm not necessarily sold on Brandon Lloyd being a real number one receiver, but Cromartie did a great job following him around all game. Lloyd had 4 catches for 74 yards. Of those catches, one was when Cro was in great coverage, and Orton made a fantastic throw. One was when the Jets played zone, and Cro wasn't covering him. One was a blown call. He was also the victim of a very suspect pass interference call. Cromartie is playing really well.

Drew Coleman: Coleman was beaten badly by Eddie Royal near the end of the first half. It was really the only blemish. He was solid in coverage again. He forced a fumble. He hustled to the ball and made sure Denver couldn't get anything on a busted play after a bad snap on a field goal try. He made a sound tackle on the final drive. I guess this coaching staff knew what it was doing keeping him around when just about every GGN member and writer (myself included) questioned it.

David Harris: While the run defense as a whole was less than spectacular, Harris played a great game. He did his thing, consistently making plays in traffic and ending the game with 8 tackles.

Blitz Packages: This was probably the most effective the Jets' blitzes have been all year. Denver runs the New England system. That means few extra blockers and leaves them vulnerable when the defense sends more rushers than there are protectors. The coverage was mostly excellent, and the pressure forced Kyle Orton to throw early. That's how a14 for 34 stat line happens.

Dwight Lowery: He showed great hustle getting to the loose ball to end the game.

Nick Folk: Would he have hit a 56 yard kick at sea level? Probably not, but it was still one heck of a kick. Would he have had 5 touchbacks, including the clutch one after LT's second touchdown at sea level? Probably not, but he took advantage of the thin air as he should have.

Trevor Pryce: It wasn't really evident in the stat sheet, but I thought he was active and winning his matchups.

The Bad:

Darrelle Revis: I don't want to hear excuses. If you want to hold out of camp, hold the team hostage, make a major distraction out of yourself, and have your representation go on and on and on about how you are the best corner in the game and deserve to be paid like it, don't get burned twice on key long passes. Revis was not beaten badly, but he was beaten soundly on a third down pass that set up a touchdown and later a touchdown.

Run Blocking: The line really wasn't getting much of a push for most of the game. Yes, Denver loaded the box consistently with 8 and 9 man fronts, but this team lead the league in rushing last year seeing those regularly.

Execution Against the Run: Denver is a throwing team, and the Jets were playing the pass a lot, but I thought the defensive front aside from Harris had its worst game of the year against the run facing a shaky offensive line. The Broncos were over a yard better per carry than they were in their other games.

Approach to Tim Tebow: The reason the Jets stopped the Wildcat when they played in Miami is they loaded the box, sent guys off the edges, and dared them to throw it. There is a reason Tim Tebow is not starting for Denver right now. He is raw as a passer. At Florida, he was an option guy who mainly had success because he was strong enough to run through arm tackles. I thought the Jets were too tentative and gave him too much credit.

Other Thoughts:

  • This is the kind of game that should get an officiating crew disciplined if not fired. I counted no less than 6 blown calls that cost the Jets at least 10 yards. There were the ticky tack pass interference calls on Cromartie, Keller, and Holmes. There was the blown call when Brandon Lloyd did not maintain possession all the way to the ground. That one also cost Gang Green a timeout when they blew the replay call. There was the phanton head shot called on Jim Leonhard. Finally, there was the touchdown by Thomas against Revis, when he clearly didn't get his foot in. This doesn't even count the ticky tack holding call on Coleman or John Conner getting dragged to the ground. It may not be an easy job, but these officials get a heck of a lot to blow calls like that.
  • They did get the biggest call of the game, the fourth down pass interference, right at least.
  • Even had they lost, the calls would have been no excuse. The Jets want to be a champion. They have enough talent to overcome it.
  • Something tells me the story on ESPN will be about Tebow's first touchdown even though the Jets won, and the blocking was so good that I could have scored on that play.
  • I love it when the Jets play the Broncos because their fans are just great. I hope to see you guys back around here soon.

Unlike last year, we can head into the bye enjoying things. The Jets are playing great football. Some things could get better, but the team now has time to tighten them up. 5-1 is a pretty nice place to be.