Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Bringin’ It Holmes: JETS 26 – Browns 20 (OT)

The Jets pulled off another overtime victory on the road last week, this one on a touchdown by Santonio Holmes in the final minute. The Jets are the first team in NFL history to win back-to-back overtime games on the road and are now 5-0 on the road this season, the best record in the NFL. This was not a pretty win by any means, but the Jets are still finding ways to win. That can’t just be luck, right? As Rex Ryan said in a press conference on Monday, “Good teams are always the lucky teams.”

The Jets have shown that they can win even when they are not playing their best games. The last two games certainly have not been the Jets’ A games, they were maybe the Jets’ C games, but they were able to overcome incompetence in both and found ways to win. Nick Folk missed 3 field goals on Sunday. If he had hit just one of them, the Jets would have won easily. The Jets managed to make up for the 9 points they missed out on and won on an overtime touchdown. It’s good to see this team is not the “same old Jets” anymore. They have shown that no matter the situation, they are still in the game. Let’s also remember, they beat a Browns team that was coming off two big wins against the Saints and Patriots, meaning they are anything but pushovers.

At this point last season, the Jets were 4-5 and looking at a disappointing second half. That Jets team won 5 of its last 7 games and squeaked into the postseason, ending with a run to the AFC Championship. This season, at 7-2, the Jets look primed for a run to the postseason. At this point, they are not a lock to get a first round bye, nor are they a lock to even win their division. The New England Patriots are also 7-2 and don’t seem to be backing off at all. The Ravens, Steelers, and Colts are all 6-3 and are well within striking distance of the first place Jets. With the strength in the AFC North and East, it seems possible that the two wildcard teams in the AFC may have more than 10 wins. In his first two seasons with the Jets, Rex Ryan is 0-2 after the bye week. Not sure if it is just bad luck or poor game planning, but the Jets and Rex do not seem like a strong team after the bye week. Maybe a first round bye wouldn’t be the best thing for this team, but that does not mean I would start hoping for them to lose a few games, especially with the possibility of 10 wins not guaranteeing a playoff spot.

Santonio Holmes is quickly becoming the Jets’ closer. Santonio forced a defensive pass interference near the goal line on 4th and long against the Broncos, setting up LT’s game winning touchdown run. Holmes had a 52-yard reception in overtime against the Lions 2 weeks ago, setting up the game winning field goal. Last week, he caught a quick slant and made two nice moves to get past the defense and run 37 yards to the house to defeat the Browns. Holmes is finally starting to have the big impact we expected him to have on this team. He is also starting to look like he is the receiver deserving of the new contract with the Jets at the end of the season. Holmes knows how to win the big game, and he will be a very important part of the Jets’ offense in the second half of the season.

Shonn Greene got 20 carries and had 3 receptions in Sunday’s victory. LaDainian Tomlinson had 18 carries and 6 receptions. It seems that we have finally reached the point where the Jets are splitting the playing time between their two feature backs. Neither ran for an impressive average in the game, but both played a significant role in elongating drives and gave Mark Sanchez some help receiving out of the backfield. The Jets ran for a total of 172 yards in Sunday’s win, their highest total since week 4 victory in Buffalo. This split, along with some looks for Brad Smith out of the wildcat, may be the perfect balance the Jets need as we go deep into this NFL season.

Mark Sanchez had another impressive game against the Browns. He just missed throwing his 2nd consecutive (and 2nd career) 300-yard game, but threw for 2 touchdowns and ran for another. Sanchez’s biggest mistake in the game was the interception he threw on 3rd and long in overtime that gave the Browns the ball on their own 3-yard line. I call this a mistake because it is an interception, but it was not a mistake by any means. None of his receivers were open, so the best chance was to throw it deep and hope for something good. The worst thing that could happen is exactly what happened. The Browns took the ball on their own 3-yard line, which ended up setting up the Jets victory. Sanchez said in his post game press conference that this play was designed to have the opportunity to throw the ball away like that. The result was definitely better than punting the ball, especially the way Weatherford had been punting all day. It was also better than Sanchez forcing a shorter pass to a covered receiver and having the ball intercepted around midfield. This turned out to be a big turning point in the game. Sanchez was able to keep many plays alive on Sunday by dodging sacks and scrambling out of the pocket to complete passes. Sanchez is showing everyone why he was worthy of being picked 5th overall in the 2009 NFL Draft.

Jerricho Cotchery made a brilliant diving catch in overtime to keep a drive alive after Sanchez was able to get away from a couple sacks. The most amazing part, he pulled his groin just seconds before having to make the catch. This is shown in the video below. This catch was ranked 4th in ESPN’s top ten plays of the NFL weekend. The top play was Mike Thomas’ Hail Mary catch to win the game for the Jaguars. As amazing as Thomas’ play was, I definitely believe Cotchery’s catch was more impressive and it was definitely the gutsier play.

The Jets now have a couple matchups in a row against underachieving teams in the Texans and Bengals. The Texans started the season looking like one of the top teams in the AFC. Although they have the NFL’s leading rusher in Arian Foster, they have fallen to 4-5 behind their league worst pass defense. Thanksgiving night, the Jets host the currently 2-7 Cincinnati Bengals. Coming off a spectacular season in which they won the AFC North, the Bengals now have one of the worst records in the AFC, even with the addition of Terrell Owens to their offense. Owens has not hurt this team with his personality, and is actually having one of his best seasons in the NFL. Like the last two weeks, the Jets face opponents who have losing records, but have looked dangerous at times and could easily pull off upsets if not taken seriously. The Jets have shown that they can avoid the upset even when they don’t play their best. They are definitely capable of winning big in both of these games, but the Jets seem to like close ones. Either way, 9-2 is within reach as long as everyone plays like a Jet.

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