East Rutherford, N.J.– “We needed a win in the worst way. We’re just happy that we found a way to get one.” (c) Rex Ryan.
Coming off a three game losing streak and faced with a 2-3 record the Jets absolutely needed a win in the worst way. With the Bills losing on Sunday and the Raiders losing their quarterback for a few weeks with a broken collarbone the door had been cracked back open to give the Jets playoff hopes new life. A loss against the winless Dolphins would have likely ended any hope the Jets would have had about making the playoffs, but with a win tonight and a chance to make it two in a row against the Chargers next week the Jets find themselves right in the thick of things as far as the AFC Wildcard is concerned.
All’s well that ends well and all that jazz, but things certainly didn’t start well for the Jets on offense. The Jets won the coin toss and Rex Ryan decided to shake things up by electing to receive the opening kickoff. With hopes of getting the offense off to a fast start no doubt, but to no avail as the Jets offense once again stumbled out of the gate. Through the Jets first four possessions their best offense was Darrelle Revis as he intercepted Matt Moore, who repeatedly challenged the league’s premier corner and paid for it on this play, in the end zone and did his best Deion Sanders impersonation as he scampered for a 100 yard return and six points giving the Jets all the points they would need as they took a 7-3 lead with just under six minutes left in the first quarter.
“He (Brandon Marshall) ran a double post. Brandon cut in front of me and he kind of tripped a little bit.” Revis said of the game-changing play, “I kind of moved out of the way and the ball was right there. I started running, made one cut, I saw daylight and I just kept running.”
The offense would finally get their act together and if you guessed it was on the last drive before the end of the first-half then you win for selecting the most obvious answer. Four straight drives, four straight three-and-outs as the Jets offense looked like it was the 0-4 team in the middle of a ‘Suck For Luck,” campaign. The slow starts and overall ineptitude of the Jets offense to start games is still beyond head-scratching, but once they finally got the ball rolling tonight they were able to build on it and pick up steam as they continued on to bury the Dolphins, with a big helping hand from the Dolphins own ineptness.
After the game Ryan said, “It took us a little time again, but once we got going we’re hard to stop.” And that’s exactly what happened.
With 6:54 left in the half and the Jets holding onto a 7-6 lead despite the fact that they had only gained 10 total yards on offense at this point, Sanchez finally got his act together and put together a solid 11 play, 81 yard drive capped off by a quarterback draw for a five yard touchdown as Sanchez dove head first into the end zone. Sanchez got off to a shaky start, a bad read here and badly overthrown ball there and the offense couldn’t stay on the field, but on this last drive of the half Sanchez was throwing darts and spreading it around the field. The play calls had the Dolphins off balance and the Jets capitalized, but even more importantly they kept the momentum going into the second half.
In the second half the Jets came out and put together another long drive to tack on a field goal to start the half and they continued to have sustained drives that not only got them some yards and more points but also kept the Dolphins offense on the sidelines, which ironically was probably a good thing for the Dolphins as they were able to move the ball with some success early but continued to find ways to hurt themselves as the Jets defense clamped down on them. The offense may have finally woken up, but make no mistake this game was won because of the defense, specifically Revis and his two interception.
The Jets now stand at 3-3 and with the Chargers coming to town next week the Jets know they have to be ready to bounce back quickly in this short week. This win feels great for now, but all this joy can be easily forgotten if followed by a loss next week. But a win and all of a sudden the Jets will head into their bye week at 4-3 and in prime position to close out the regular season just like they had originally hoped they would.
“Losing three in a row is tough for us, something we’re not used to.” Dustin Keller said after the game, “It seems like the last few years we’ve had a situation like that, we lose a few in a row and we’ve done a good job responding and coming back. So hopefully that’s the start of that.”
With all the “turmoil” surrounding the team in the last week, specifically the minor disagreement between Brandon Moore and Santonio Holmes the Jets quickly moved passed that drama as Ryan, flashing his flair for the dramatic, named Moore and Holmes team captains for the game. After the game Ryan said, “That was just a coincidence (joking). I talked to both of them. We had to get some things off our chests, but I can assure you that we’re together. That’s the important thing.
“When you look at it, losing three (straight) games in this league is tough. Things like this happen in every locker room. The difference is I think we’re open. Maybe it’s noticed more from our end, but we’re moving past that thing. It’s unfortunate that it happened, but that’s the way it goes. We’re chasing a much bigger thing than that.”
Ryan said they decided to pull Nick Mangold at the end of the day, purely as a precautionary measure and he will be fine for Sunday and Antonio Cromartie had to leave the game with a pulled groin, but Ryan said he anticipates he’ll play no matter what considering it’s the Chargers coming up next week. After the game Cromartie gave a quick and emphatic, “I’m alright. I’ll be fine (for next week).” to reporters on his way out of the locker room.
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