Jets bounce Redskins, 34-19: Post-game Breakdown

The Jets took a while, but they finally asserted themselves in the fourth quarter and shocked everyone from the Redskins to their own fans, overcoming another late deficit and scoring 21 points in the final 5 minutes of the game.

The game was actually a lot closer than the final score indicates. Both teams came out and scored touchdowns on their opening drives, and the Jets converted on a gutsy 4th and 1 attempt to keep their first drive going. The Jets defense looked terrible on the opening drive by the Redskins, and it looked like it might be a long afternoon.

But the defense composed itself, and was actually rather good for the rest of the game, holding a poor offense led by Rex Grossman to field goals. The Redskins had no first downs in the third quarter. Cornerback Darrelle Revis, after having a “rough game” last week, had another game where you didn’t hear his name because the Redskins were so busy not throwing the ball towards him.

The defensive line put good pressure on Grossman, and forced two fumbles and interception. They would have had another interception as well, if not for a penalty that had nothing to do with the play and was called really late. But the defense, after looking shaky two games in a row, looked steady today. In spite of the good defensive effort, it was still 16-13 Redskins in the fourth quarter when the Jet offense finally came alive.

Once the opening scoring drive ended, the Jets’ offense went back to sleep, posting only two field goals until they posted a touchdown with 4:49 left in the game. After a week of being asked about boos, of questions about his work ethic, of being trash talked by Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall, and listening to how terrible he is even when he’s good enough to win, quarterback Mark Sanchez became the man in the fourth quarter. Again.

[caption id="attachment_372" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Santonio Holmes hauls in his second game winning touchdown in two weeks, a 30 yard pass from Mark Sanchez. Photo by Nick Wass // The AP."][/caption]

There was the perfect 30 yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Santonio Holmes, set up by a pump fake, to put the Jets’ ahead for the first time and for good, but there was a different play where Sanchez himself saved the game. He wasn’t bailed out by a penalty or a great catch by his receivers. It was just him.

Two plays earlier, on 3rd and 4, just out of field goal range and under pressure, Sanchez scrambled to his right, finding Shonn Greene for a 10 yard gain. He kept the drive going, and looked like the leader the Jets need on that play.

Sanchez didn’t have spectacular stats this game, but he looked better, confident and calm. He only threw one “near” interception. His final line for the afternoon was 19 for 32 for 165 yards with 1 touchdown and a rating of 83.5. He threw no interceptions (for the first time in 5 games). It was the tenth fourth quarter comeback win of Sanchez’s career and his sixth on the road.

With this win, Sanchez becomes the fifth quarterback of the Super Bowl era who has won at least 30 games in his first three seasons as a starter (including playoffs), along with Dan Marino, Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco, and Matt Ryan.

It’s probably safe to say that Jets fans don’t care if Sanchez doesn’t throw for 350 yards as long as he wins. He won today, got it done, and deserves credit for it. His teammates have been quick to give him a lot of credit, probably aware that he’s been taking too much of blame.

Running back LaDainian Tomlinson said of Sanchez, “The kid just plays his best football in the fourth quarter. Whenever we need him the most is when he shows up, and that’s all I care about – wins and losses.”

Other positives on offense were running back Shonn Greene and the offensive line. The line protected Sanchez, not letting him get sacked once, against a good pass rush. Greene had three rushing touchdowns this game, a career high. He ran for 88 yards on 22 carries, and really powered through.  The Jets tried the Wildcat a number of times, which had mixed results until Greene burst through with an insurance touchdown off a direct snap with 3:49 left.

[caption id="attachment_373" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Shonn Greene (23) takes off for one of his three touchdowns. Photo by Rob Carr // Getty Images."][/caption]

That touchdown was a direct result of defensive linebacker Aaron Maybin, who sacked and stripped Washington quarterback Rex Grossman. He now has six sacks on the season, and is probably the best “bust” the Jets have had on the team in years.

There was one legitimate concern in this game, even with the good defensive effort and the offensive burst: the special teams.

For the fourth game in a row, the Jets’ special teams have muffed a punt or fumbled a kick or failed at some other fundamental thing that resulted in the other team having the ball deep in Jets’ territory.

Up this week in the “fumble a kick” rotation was Jeremy Kerley. He muffed a punt on the Jets’ 18 yard line. The defense held the Redskins to a field goal, but this is the sixth special teams turn over this year. They’ve gone from "pretty good" to directly posting points for opponents.

[caption id="attachment_376" align="alignleft" width="233" caption="Aaron Maybin (51) sacks and strips Rex Grossman (8) in the fourth quarter. Photo by Evan Vucci // The AP."][/caption]

After Kerley’s mishap, they replaced him immediately with Jim Leonhard, which was a good move. The time for letting guys work through their kinks on the field is over with every game a virtual “must-win.” Leonhard may not have many great runbacks like McKnight or Kerley are capable of, but he at least grabs the ball and holds on.

Nick Folk also missed a 40 yard field goal this game, which would have put the Jets ahead. This is the third game in a row in which he’s missed a field goal after not missing any for most of the season. He didn’t miss any last week, but he didn’t attempt any field goals against Buffalo.

Lost in the uproar over mediocrity this season is the fact that TJ Conley isn't a very good punter. Why was he considered better than Steve Weatherford? Conley consistently puts up poor punts. He did it today, with two punts under 40 yards. One 36 yard punt, a 20 yard return, and a 5 yard penalty put Washington in field goal position without them even having to try, and they went up 16-13 on the ensuing drive.

The special teams allowing points for other teams and not adding points for the Jets is becoming a real issue, especially since the Jets looked like they might lose by a field goal for awhile. Special teams coach Mike Westhoff should be having fits. He’s got to do something.

But a win is a win. There was a lot of good in this game for the Jets to build off of, and they need to continue getting better if they want to keep winning. They looked better this week, not great, but also less sloppy. They need to cut back on their costly penalties too, and stop allowing easy points, but they did show some good signs. They’re back in the thick of the playoff hunt. Two weeks ago, the Jets said they needed to win their last six games. 2 wins down, 4 to go, and it hasn’t been pretty, but it looks like it could be getting better.

The Jets still need to win out to have a chance at the playoffs, but if anyone can pull it off, it’s the comeback kids.

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