Jets Top Chargers 27-21: Post-game Breakdown

The New York Jets team fans have been waiting for finally arrived in Week 07, posting a 27-21 comeback win over the San Diego Chargers.

It didn’t start out looking like a good day.

The offense opened with a first down before a fluke-ish kind of fumble by tight end Dustin Keller put the Chargers ahead 7-0. Then, after posting a field goal, going back down the field and having a Santonio Holmes touchdown nullified on a holding penalty by Nick Mangold (of all people!), quarterback Mark Sanchez threw an interception in the end zone. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers led his team down the field against the defense. It was then 14-3. The Jets put up another seven points on the first of three touchdowns on the day from Sanchez to Burress. But the defense couldn’t stop the Chargers offense and it was 21-10.

The home team was booed off the field at halftime.

But in the second half, the Jets finally looked like the team they say they are. They completely dominated the third and fourth quarters on offense, defense, and special teams. Mark Sanchez connected with Plaxico Burress twice more, and Nick Folk posted another field goal.

There are a couple of reasons the Jets won this game, so let's take a look at them.

[caption id="attachment_252" align="alignleft" width="298" caption="Plaxico Burress scores one of his three touchdowns. Photo by Paul J. Bereswill."][/caption]

The biggest story of the game is Plaxico Burress. After being largely MIA for much of the season and a week of speculation that Burress wasn’t worth a roster spot, let alone the money the Jets signed him for, the wide receiver came out to catch three touchdowns, all thrown by Sanchez.  Sure, Burress only had 25 receiving yards, but he posted 21 points, and the Jets brought him in to open up the end zone, which he did. The Jets struggled in the red zone last year, but Burress was supposed to give them another option. This week, he finally did.

But the Jets being near the end zone, instead of posting 3-and-outs at mid-field, was due to the reemergence of the running game. Yes, “ground-and-pound” finally made a true comeback.

[caption id="attachment_253" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Shonn Greene (23) races the Chargers for yards. He rushed for 112 yards. Photo by Corey Sipkin."][/caption]

Running back Shonn Greene rushed for a season high 112 yards, and his ability to get through holes and run more to the outside helped the passing game. If there is one thing that Sanchez has mastered in his time in the NFL, it’s the play fake. Without the threat of a real running game to keep defenses honest, the play fakes Sanchez uses to fool defenses and get extra time to throw the ball just weren’t as effective. This game, Greene was effective so the passing game was more effective.

The other big story of the game was running back LaDainian Tomlinson playing against his old team for the first time. The last game Tomlinson played for the Chargers was against the Jets in the playoffs in January of 2010. The Jets eliminated the Chargers from the playoffs, stunning the San Diego crowd, 17-14. The Chargers cut Tomlinson that off-season. He’s been with the Jets ever since. LT got the ceremonial start over Greene, and had 37 yards in the first half before sitting most of the second with a mysterious illness that turned out to be “flu-like symptoms.”

And while it’s easy to get caught up in everything that happened, there’s an unsung hero who quietly made the win possible. Rookie wide receiver Jeremy Kerley, who made a splash in camp and has become the Jets third option since trading Derrick Mason, grabbed two crucial third down passes on the Jets’ third quarter touchdown drive. He kept the drive going for two more sets of downs, before Sanchez connected with Burress in the endzone.

The defense was also crucial in the second half. During the first half, the defense was having some trouble defending the short passes and was undermanned. Mike DeVito sat this game, and Kenrick Ellis and David Harris both had to leave the game with sprained ankles. Harris returned in the second half. Rookie Mo Wilkerson played his best game. And after a first half that saw the Chargers move the ball with relative ease, the Jets came out in the second half playing more zone coverage. They held wide receivers Vincent Jackson and Malcom Floyd to a combined three receptions, and held tight end Antonio Gates, in his first game back from injury, to five receptions for 54 yards.

Darrelle Revis had another big interception this week, this time off a deflection, and ran the ball back 64 yards to set up the Jets final touchdown. Cornerback Kyle Wilson made the first interception of his career on the next Chargers drive, which ended in Nick Folk kicking an insurance field goal. Linebacker Aaron Maybin, who is mid-redemption story, had another sack this week bringing his season total to three. He’s been playing for the Jets for four weeks.

You can see the Revis interception here.

The Jets were also able to cut back on their penalties – or at least, not be the most penalized team on the field. The Jets had 8 penalties for 60 yards. 25 of those yards were racked up by center Nick Mangold and some by safety Jim Leonhard, when their play is usually flawless. Again, one of Mangold’s penalties, a holding call, nullified a first quarter touchdown by wide receiver Santonio Holmes.

Meanwhile, the Chargers had 13 penalties for 95 yards. One call, late in the game on a Jets scoring drive, was a pass interference call on cornerback Quentin Jammer against Holmes on an incomplete third down pass. Jammer began taunting the crowd before seeing the flag, and was stunned when it was called. He says the refs lost the game for the Chargers.

While this is the second time in two weeks critics have brought up the refs favoring the Jets in their calls, this call was predictable even if questionable. Jammer never turned around to play the ball and was completely in Holmes’s face. Everyone knows that if you don’t play the ball, they’ll call you on the contact every time. Plus, the pass interference call on Leonhard was weak too and led to a Charger touchdown. The refs were pretty consistent this game when calling stuff.

According to the rules posted on the NFL website, the very first thing that constitutes pass interference is:

Contact by a defender who is not playing the ball and such contact restricts the receiver’s opportunity to make the catch.

Jammer may not have had an unreasonable amount of contact covering Holmes, but refs consistently call pass interference if the defensive player doesn’t turn around to look at the ball.

The Chargers last drive ended in Rivers getting rid of the ball out of bounds on fourth down (does anybody know why he did that? Is the consensus that it was so loud and he thought it was third down? Anybody know? Anybody? Bueller?).

And after Mark Sanchez took a knee with three seconds left, Rex Ryan had definitively outcoached Norv Turner and the Jets found themselves at 4-3 heading into their bye week.

There’s no underplaying the importance of this game: it was huge. If they didn’t win this game, their chances at the playoffs were very slim. It’s not going to be easy as it is, but the schedule isn’t ridiculously tough going forward. There’s two against Buffalo and another against New England at home, but they also play the Broncos, the Chiefs, the Redskins, and the Dolphins again. At this point, those look like winnable games. The games with the Giants and the Eagles are up for grabs as well.

If the Jets of Sunday’s second half show up from now on, they have still have a pretty good shot at the playoffs.

Back to the New York Jets Newsfeed