This was what we needed. Beating the Dolphins was nice, but heading into the bye week, we needed a win against a competitive team to bring this team back from the brink. This one was not without drama-things came down to the wire-but the Jets managed to come from behind, prevent Philip Rivers and the Chargers from scoring in the second half, and win the game. Let’s get to it.
What a difference a week makes. While I can’t say that the offense didn’t have it’s weak moments, such as the Dustin Keller “fumble,” Sanchez’s interception in the end one, and the missed opportunity at a touchdown on the last drive, the Jets offense had more life in it than we’ve seen in a while.
This is very likely due to Tom Moore’s influence. He was at the stadium today, lending his input as needed. Today, we saw more aggressive play-calling, partly buoyed by the reinvigorated running game. Shonn Greene had 112 yards today on 20 carries, bursting away for some drive-extending carries.
On the receiving side, it was essentially a committee job, with 6 receivers combining for 175 yards. The top receiver was Dustin Keller, who made 4 receptions for 53 yards. Jeremy Kerley got into the game, picking up receptions on key 3rd downs. Plaxico Burress made up for his recent lack of production, using his size and strength to grab 3 touchdown passes over the heads of the San Diego secondary. Oh, and Santonio Holmes ran a beautiful route for a touchdown pass that was negated by a holding call against Nick Mangold.
The most glaring flaw on offense was, once again, the pass protection. The offensive line quavered far too often, forcing Sanchez to scramble and throw it away twice, and letting him get sacked two times. It’ll be interesting to see whether any adjustments are made in the bye week. Or if Tom Moore’s role is expanded (hint hint) before the game against the Bills.
Watching this game was like watching two different defenses at work. The lack of Kenrick Ellis and Mike DeVito was profoundly felt, and the Jets gave up touchdowns on two straight drives in the 1st half. After the Chargers’ second TD drive, the Jets had allowed them to convert on six straight 3rd downs. Tight End Antonio Gates was rarely covered, and the Chargers were able to quickly drive down the field by running the ball with Mike Tolbert (58 total yards) and passing to Gates.
In the 2nd half, the Jets clamped down. Gates was frequently in double coverage, and they started making the tackles they had missed before halftime. In the 2nd half, the Chargers were unable to score, and, when they began moving the ball well, the Jets were able to step up and take it away from them, with key interceptions by Kyle Wilson by Darelle Revis, who returned his pick 64 yards to the SD 20. Aaron Maybin also showed some flashes, notching the Jets only sack of the day.
Again, I’m not saying the defense made no mistakes. Jim Leonhard’s passing interference in the red zone was incredibly costly. But they held their own against an elite quarterback, who, by the time the Chargers got the ball back with less than two minutes to go and a chance to take the lead on a touchdown, played like he was confused and frustrated. The Jets coverage held strong when it mattered.
The only downside to the Jets defense playing well is that Joe McKnight doesn’t return kickoffs as often. When he did, he was as incredible as always, consistently giving the Jets excellent starting field position.
The only negative here was the punt return unit. I think there were two flags on the Jets during returns, which is far too many, and negates the hard work the returner was doing.
In the end, though, it feels good to win. We’ve got a winning record again, our running game is working, and despite some early overthrows, Sanchez is finding his receivers. Bring on the bye!