"A loss is a loss, I’m not digging moral victories" said tight-end Dustin Keller to the media after the Jets 29-26 overtime loss to the New England Patriots Sunday in Foxboro. "We have to move on" said Keller, "We can’t let one loss turn into two."
It seems that the majority of the New York Jets team and organization realize the opportunity that was squandered Sunday when Mark Sanchez fumbled the football in overtime, and the Jets lost a close game, falling to 3-4 overall on the season. The Jets, who entered Sunday’s game against the Patriots as 10½ point underdogs, looked impressive as they were able to come back from a 10 point fourth quarter deficit to nearly steal a game away from Tom Brady and the Patriots.
Mark Sanchez looked as impressive against the Patriots Sunday, as he has all season. (With maybe the exception of Buffalo) Sanchez finished the game 28-41 for 328 yards, 1 TD, 1 Int. In the loss, Sanchez proved to many of his harshest critiques, myself included, that he has the ability to put this team on his back and make accurate throws in big spots. In the fourth quarter alone Sanchez was 10-12 for 114 yards and 1 TD. Sanchez looked comfortable and on the verge of doing what many deemed the impossible.
Unfortunate for many, the Jets would eventually give up a field goal on the opening possession of overtime and Mark Sanchez would fumble the football on the Jets possession to give the game to New England. It was a heartbreaking end to a game in which Sanchez deserved to win, but knows he must do EVERYTHING right, to win.
The Jets defense played well Sunday against the leagues best offensive team. Cornerback Antonio Cromartie was able to shut down the oppositions top outside receiver for the third week in a row. Cromarite has stepped up and played big in the absence of All-Pro Darelle Revis. He has put the onus on himself to make sure the Jets defensive production continues while Revis recovers from his torn ACL. The secondary did an outstanding job taking away Tom Brady’s targets. The defense did give up 131 yards on the ground, but were able to slow down the Patriots and keep the game close.
My Notes: I want to start by saying that as great as Mark Sanchez played on Sunday, and I do believe he played exceptionally well, he must learn that taking a sack isn’t always the worst case. Too many times during the game Sanchez tried to avoid taking sacks, by throwing the ball away while on his way to the ground. On the final play of the game Sanchez should have tucked the ball, taken the sack, and lived for the next play.
I do believe this game could be a turning point game in Sanchez’s season and/or career. There was a confidence about Sanchez Sunday that I have not seen. Many times during the game, it seemed as if the inevitable mistake was going to come from Sanchez to seal the Jets fate. Snap after snap Sanchez continued to throw precise passes for first downs to keep the Jets driving. Sanchez proved more in this loss then he has in each of the Jets victories this season. Hopefully he can build on this performance and continue to carry this team when he needs to.
WR Stephen Hill dropped a crucial pass late in the game that would have given the Jets a much better chance to close this one out. I have been extremely critical of Hill this season for his inability to make catches like the one he dropped Sunday. Hill has the athleticism and talent but those talents are nullified at the WR position if you cannot hang-on to the ball. He is a rooki and came from an offense that was run heavy in college. He had issues catching the ball in college as well. Hopefully with repetition, he will learn to look the football into his hands. He is doing himself and the team a huge disservice by continuing to drop big passes.
The Jets play another division opponent next week when Miami travels to MetLife stadium. In their first meeting the Jets squeaked out a victory over the Dolphins. Ryan Tannehill has made significant improvement in his game since he faced the Jets several weeks ago. If the Jets can let go of the stained emotions endured from this week’s loss (which by all accounts they have) and play at the same level, they will have a great opportunity to win another divisional game and stay in the hunt for the playoffs.