The Jets are 7-2 after yet another heart stopping last minute victory. Today's win came against former coach Eric Mangini's Browns in Cleveland. It looked like it was going to be a gutty win. Then it looked like it was going to be a heartbreaking loss. Then it looked like it was going to be a frustrating tie. It ended up as a gutty win after all. Gang Green was not perfect today, but coming out on top on the road against an opponent on fire is uplifting.
More after the jump.
Mark Sanchez: I said after Sanchez's first career 300 yard game last week that he still needed to play better. He fell a single yard short of the 300 yard mark this week, but it was impossible not to be impressed by the quarterback's play this week. His play was terrific. His accuracy was much better. He only made one really bad decision, Abram Elam's almost interception. More than that were things we haven't seen in the past. He looked off defenders as well as I have ever seen him do.
The biggest thing that impressed me, though, was the leadership he displayed. Twice he pulled steaming teammates, Braylon Edwards and Robert Turner, out of what could have turned into fights and costly penalties. He also showed an incredible degree of toughness by refusing the leave the game after suffering an injury that left him limping and continuing to stand tough in the pocket.
Sanchez looked like Ben Roethlisberger today. I mean that as a compliment. When something wasn't immediately open down the field, he was not quick to check down like he usually is. He hung in the pocket. He refused to go down. He bought himself extra time with his feet and kept his eyes downfield. He made some huge plays as a result from Jerricho Cotchery's touchdown in the first half to the play in the shadow of his own goal line in overtime when he somehow escaped Shaun Rogers' grasp and found LaDainian Tomlinson. There was also the touchdown run when the Jets inexplicably went shotgun and threw on third and goal from the 1.
Even the interception was a heady play. Time was winding down in overtime. He took a shot to see whether his big target, Braylon Edwards could win a jump ball or draw a penalty. The worst case scenario, an interception, happened and pinned Cleveland deep. This set the Jets up in great field position to win the game.
Sanchez was just fantastic. His final line was 27 for 44 with 299 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception.
Santonio Holmes: Holmes was the other hero, beating defenders and breaking tackles on the way to a 37 yard touchdown in the final minute of overtime. It was the second straight week he took a slant a long way in overtime to seal a win. With Nick Folk struggling, finding the end zone this week might have been the difference between a win and a tie. He finished with 5 catches for 75 yards. He also made a fantastic play that does not show up in the stats, knocking the ball away from Abram Elam so that Elam could not intercept it in the red zone.
Braylon Edwards: I'm sure Braylon wishes he was the one who took the slant all the way, but he'll settle for a 4 catch, 59 yard game. He had a key 22 yard grab when the Jets were backed up after a penalty on their marathon drive to begin the second half.
LaDainian Tomlinson: LT got his groove back today with 110 total yards from scrimmage. Unlike the past few weeks, he was beating guys and making them miss. He also did great job grinding out extra yardage by keeping his legs moving when it looked like he was stopped and finding a little extra room on the sidelines.
Shonn Greene: His rushing average is a bit skewed because he got the ball in a few short yardage situations in which he executed perfectly. He finished with 72 big yards on 20 carries and was extremely effective on the ground. Even more encouraging was the fact he got involved in the passing game today with 3 catches for 22 yards.
Brian Schottenheimer: If you have followed this site at all the past three years, you know how well I must think Schotty did to give him props. I really liked the game he called today. I liked the 45-44 run-pass ratio that leaned more heavily on the run before the waning moments of overtime. I like the fact that when he threw, the Jets took shots down the field, giving the playmakers on the roster a chance to make plays. I like the fact he made a point of utilizing the Brad Smith package more often. If it keeps working, keep coming back to it.
There were things I didn't like such as the back to back pass calls on the 1 yard line and the silly move putting Sanchez into a three point stance on a direct snap to Smith as if it would confuse Cleveland, but overall he did good work.
Brad Smith: I liked to see that he got more snaps. Running for 39 yards on 5 carries showed why he deserves them. He also had a big catch in overtime, seeing time at wide receiver after Jerricho Cotchery went out injured. That reception made a field goal attempt realistic.
Jerricho Cotchery: This guy had been missing all year. He got wide open for the 25 yard touchdown. His circus catch in overtime to extend a drive was an incredible play , particularly considering he didn't give up on his route after pulling up lame.
Darrelle Revis: Cleveland doesn't have very good receivers, but he checked his man all game long aside from one blemish on the tying touchdown drive.
Antonio Cromartie: Cleveland doesn't have very good receivers, but he checked his man all game long aside from one blemish on the tying touchdown drive.
Kyle Wilson: Wilson saw extensive time at nickel and really thrived there. He played against Chansi Stuckey a lot and held him in check. The only completions he allowed were in front of him, and he made quick tackles to limit the plays to short yardage. You can't ask a corner to do anything more. He had a big 18 yard punt return that could have gone longer had he not lost his footing. He is going to break a monster return really soon. This is exactly what you hope to see from a young guy. He lost his spot and responded by working hard to earn it back. I know the Browns don't have great receivers, but Kyle looked like he was in his element today. Early in the year, he looked tentative and struggled against guys who weren't very good. It feels like he's turning the corner. The Jets might finally have that corps of corners they can trust in man coverage against spread formations.
Drew Coleman: It felt like he played more in overtime than regulation. He was excellent in coverage and made a potentially game saving strip of Stuckey.
Getting More Aggressive Defensively in the Second Half: The Jets were very tentative in their defensive calls in the first half. The Browns hit some early screens and had success running the ball that made Gang Green hold back. The excellent Cleveland offensive line had its way. Rex Ryan started blitzing from different angles more in the second half, and these looks seemed to confuse the protection and overwhelm the quarterback.
Defensive Line in the Second Half: We can talk all we want about scheme adjustments, but it would not have made a difference had Sione Pouha, Mike Devito, and Shaun Ellis not picked up their games after the intermission. The Jets were pushed around in the first half but did a much better job in the second half holding the point of attack.
Jason Taylor: He was quiet for much of the game, but his sack of Colt McCoy at the 1 might have been the unsung play of the game. It forced Cleveland to leave everybody in to protect the punt against a block, which opened up a lot of field for Jim Leonhard to return the punt into Browns territory.
Nick Folk: Let me say this in Folk's defense. Two of the three kicks he missed were 47 yards outdoors in Cleveland in November on grass. Those were tough kicks. He has to be in the bad section, though, because he did miss a 24 yard chip shot. In addition, sometimes championships are won and lost by the kicker's ability to hit difficult field goals. Folk's game was not as terrible as many will claim. I'm not worried about him, but it was not a good performance.
Mike Westhoff: I love Westhoff, but how many onside kick tries will it take before he teaches his up men to not leave early and to stay in position? Eric Mangini tried suprise onside kicks in big games three times with the Jets. They looked lost. It's open to every single opponent this team plays.
Eric Smith: This is as much on the coaching staff as it is on Smith. Eric does things well, but he isn't athletic or fast. I don't know why he was matched up so often against Ben Watson, a tight end who is both. Will people jump down my throat if I suggest the Jets might have missed Kerry Rhodes today?
Not Finishing Drives: I'm not sure there's a single scapegoat, but when an offense has a pair of drives for a combined 17:00 and only comes away with 3 points, it sets off alarms. The Jets keep leaving things on the field. It will eventually catch up with them. The ball can only bounce their way in close games for so long. This game should have never gotten to overtime.
Cleveland's Tying Touchdown Drive: There were some things that were almost laughable on that drive like Evan Moore beating Revis. I didn't like the way the Jets approached it, though. They let Colt McCoy get rolling by playing coverage too frequently. They couldn't generate pressure all game without blitzing. It wasn't a good idea to stop blitzing, particularly when they had been so effective attacking from different angles in the second half.
Letting the Clock Run Out in the Fourth Quarter: The defense had just been shredded. There was no guarantee of getting the ball in overtime. There were 40 seconds and 2 timeouts. When you have a chance to win it, take it. Show guts.
Defensive Line in the First Half: The phrase "blown off the ball comes" to mind. Alex Mack was consistently manhandling Sione Pouha, and Eric Steinbach was doing the same thing to Mike Devito.
David Harris/Bart Scott: Part of it had to do with the guys in front of them, but Harris and Scott are both adept at working in traffic. Their numbers weren't terrible, but I didn't feel like either was very assertive out there. There were times Peyton Hillis was dragging them down the field.
- The Browns were extremely chippy with Braylon Edwards early. It felt like they knew how fired up Braylon would be and were trying to provoke him into doing something dumb. Again, Sanchez did a great job calming him down.
- CBS needs to do better work with the field goal target line it showed in overtime for Nick Folk. What the line showed was the spot the Jets would need to reach to give Folk a try that would match his long successful try on the season. Here's the problem. That kick was in the thin air of Denver. There was no way he was going to make a 56 yard field goal try today in Cleveland into the wind.
- Phil Simms and Jim Nantz joked about how early the game was going to end near the end of regulation. I knew right there that this game was going to last 75:00.
Like I have been saying, a special season requires winning these nailbiters. I was again impressed by the Jets today. This was not a perfect game, but most of the guys played well. This team kept fighting against an opponent that knocked off the Saints and Patriots the past two weeks. That 7-2 looks pretty good.