Nashville, TN- The night started with an excited fan base filled with hope, not in their team as much as the favorable schedule, but despite a promising start, that excitement and hope quickly dissipated into the abyss of a season-ending loss, once again leaving their fans brokenhearted.
“Alright first off, obviously, that’s, you know, a devastating loss. Out of the playoffs and, you know, it hurts, beyond belief. I think the thing that really hurts the most is we have no one to blame but ourselves.” A clearly dejected Rex Ryan said, having no idea just how true that statement was and just how far the tentacles of blame go for the failures of this season.
Since Sanchez’s second season ended the offensive weapons at his disposal have been lackluster and ever-changing, they too often put Sanchez in bad positions and stunted his growth. They have continually failed to secure a competent backup that could have saved this season, or they steadfastly refused to activate three quarterbacks depriving them of the ability to go to McElroy in cleanup duty.
As an organization the Jets have failed Sanchez and Sanchez has returned the favor by failing them.
Sanchez finished tonight’s game 13/28, 131 yards, with one touchdown, four picks, sacked four times and a passing rating of 32.6, also known as a typical day for Sanchez.
“Well again, I’m not ready to say who will be our quarterback the next game.” Ryan said before being asked if he regretted not activating McElroy. Ryan briefly paused, shook his head before delivering a classic non-answer, “Again I just regret not winning this game, I think that’s the big thing. Our situation, we went with six receivers, which is something we’ve never done, but that was due to the fact that we had a couple of guys coming off of injuries and that’s why we decided to go with six. That’s why I did, I went with the six receivers when that’s something I don’t normally do.”
The Jets opened up on offense with a good first drive with good play-calling. Braylon helped out early, but Cumberland needed to catch the pass in the end zone. He didn’t and as a result the Jets had to settle for three after the play was overturned.
The defense played a great game except for one play and one drive. With Titans backed up on their own six, the Jets were in the 46 defense and Sione Po’uha got owned at the point of attack and both David Harris and Bart Scott blew their gap assignments as they both took the outside lanes and Chris Johnson scooted through the middle into a wide open lane and Yeremiah Bell was too deep to stop Johnson from putting his track star speed on display for a 94 yard touchdown giving the Titans a 7-3 lead.
“We gave up two big runs, obviously the young man makes a nice run, Chris Johnson’s a speed back (and) we certainly aided him on that and on the other touchdown run we have to play that much better obviously, but you have to give Tennessee the credit.” Ryan said, “They made the plays, Locker did a nice job running with the football and so did Chris Johnson and then the obvious, the five turnovers. As big as this game is, we knew it was a huge game for us and to turn it over five times, to get the ball on the 25 yard line and a chance to win it at the end and then the turnover again, obviously extremely disappointing to say the least.”
Following the touchdown run the offense seemed deflated. Sporano went to a Tebow package, which worked for two plays, but for some reason they stuck with him for the rest of the drive and the Titans were ready for him. After being forced to punt, the defense got the ball right back only for Sanchez to come back in, rollout and throw a pick to Jason McCourty. The pick was completely Sanchez’s fault, but one has to wonder about the play-calling and recognize the disturbing trend of Sanchez throwing a pick upon being re-inserted after Tebow.
“Well again, we did do that (go to Tebow for a series) and then as the game went on we decided, you know what?” Ryan said attempting to explain the unexplainable, “Let’s, we were going to use him more as the game went on and I don’t think he got too many plays in the second half but that was our plan.
“Yeah, I had mentioned it to Tony. That was when I wanted to put him in, to put him in for the third series and that’s exactly what we did.” Ryan said before being asked if the quarterback swap was disruptive for Sanchez? “That’s for you guys to formulate your own opinion, in mine I don’t think it matters. I think you go in, whenever your number is called you go in and do your job.”
“Yeah, Rex said the third series before the game. He (Tebow) was going to get the third series.” Sanchez said before being asked, no matter what? “That’s what he said before the game.”
Then Sanchez was asked that even considering it was pre-scripted, since he had some momentum going… Sanchez cut off the question and frustratingly said, “I have no idea. I have no idea, ask coach. I have no clue.” But did Sanchez think it disrupted his rhythm? “I don’t know, that’s neither here nor there, I have to play better.”
Still the Jets were only down 7-3 going into the half, but they just couldn’t muster up enough of offense and on the opening drive of the second half Sanchez did it again, throwing yet another pick and flushed their already slim playoff chances down the toilet. Sanchez threw deep in the middle of the field to Jeff Cumberland who just happened to have four defenders surrounding him, McCourty again got the pick.
After some more defensive stops, the Jets got the ball back and Sanchez finally got into a rhythm, yeah sure we’ll consider two straight completions a rhythm for Sanchez, first a dangerous but good rope to Kerley in tight coverage and Kerley made an excellent grab for the first down, then Sanchez followed it with a beautiful lob to Cumberland down the sidelines. Then, the confusion began to percolate around in everyone’s brain again as they ran Tebow out on the field and sent Sanchez to the sidelines. A fumble on a handoff to Greene, Greene recovered but the Titans were flagged for offsides and in came Sanchez. Apparently this sequence made sense in Sporano’s head, though the rationale is difficult to explain.
After another great defensive stand Jets took over and McKnight broke a big run for 20 yards to the Titans 15, followed by a four yard run to the 11 and then a fumble, fortunately for McKnight and the Jets Sanchez fell on the loose ball for a six yard loss. On the next play Sanchez made a great read, noticing the defender on Cumberland had his back turned and Sanchez zipped it to cumberland who walked his way into the end zone to give the Jets a brief lead for the second time in the game at 10-7.
At this point the defense had played excellent football on all but one play and with the offense finally scoring a touchdown to give them the lead Rex Ryan had to expect his defense to continue their stout play and finish the game off for them, but to no avail. It appeared the defense was gassed as the Titans offense sprang to life and had their way with the Jets defense. The Titans capped the drive off with a play eerily similar to Tebow’s run against the Jets in Denver, on national TV, last year to seal the Broncos victory. There was still a quarter to play in this game, but the victory had been sealed just the same on this run by Jake Locker.
After that letdown of a drive the defense returned to form, but so did Sanchez as he threw his third pick of the game trying to force a pass deep down the sidelines to Edwards. Apparently he didn’t see the free safety Michael Griffin who came over and made the pick on the overthrown pass.
Of all the head scratching play calls, one has to wonder why the Jets didn’t run the ball more often, it certainly wasn’t because they weren’t having success on the ground as they ran for 146 yards on 30 carries for 4.9 yards a carry as opposed to the 3.7 yards per pass they averaged.
But somehow the Jets were still in it and caught another break after a failed incompletion, Sanchez got sacked by three Titans, but one of the defenders’ helmet smashed into Sanchez’s face mask giving the Jets some life. There was a great play by Powell on a screen pass where he dipped and ducked his way for a first down at the Titans 32 with two minutes left in the game. But alas Sanchez wasn’t done making awful decisions and threw up one last pick into triple coverage, again to Griffin who made the pick at the Titans two yard line. And although the Jets defense wasn’t about to give up, quickly forcing a three and out and a shanked punt that gave the Jets the ball on the Titans 25 with 43 seconds left and a fleeting chance. How fleeting it was though as a low snap led to a fumble recovery for the Titans.
Game over, season over. A more fitting end to the Jets 2012 season could not have been scripted in Hollywood.
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