Jets dominate Chiefs, 37-10: Post-game Breakdown

The 37-10 blowout of the Kansas City Chiefs might be the most complete game the Jets have played this season.

The offense scored on the first drive.  There was that feeling of “Here we go again” for a moment when, after the kickoff but before a first play, quarterback Mark Sanchez had to call a timeout because there were only ten guys in the huddle. It was an embarrassingly bad mental mistake by the Jets, who then heard boos from the home crowd. But on the play that came next, running back Shonn Greene broke through for a 31 yard run, Sanchez rushed for the team’s first touchdown later in the drive, and the Jets never looked back.

[caption id="attachment_398" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Shonn Greene (23) runs for a touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs. Photo by David Eulitt // The Kansas City Star."][/caption]

Greene ran for a season high 129 yards and a touchdown. Oddly enough, he seems to be running better than he did before his rib injury in Denver nearly a month ago. It’s possible that injury forced him to be a smarter runner – it always felt like he was so busy diving for yards up the middle that sometimes he’d forget to stay on his feet and run.

The offensive line was also solid for its third straight game. Sanchez was sacked a few times, but they protected him well most of the time and opened some holes for good running plays. Running back LaDainian Tomlinson had 64 combined rushing and receiving yards and his first touchdown at home in nearly two seasons (believe it or not). While Kansas City’s offense has been abysmal lately, their defense was ranked 16th in the league – solidly average.  Not great, but definitely not terrible.

It seemed to be one of those days where nothing went right for Kansas City. There was a botched onside kick and Jets' safety Jim Leonhard had interception. There was a drive on which the Jets went down the field and scored a touchdown almost entirely due to penalty calls on the Chiefs. There were 5 penalties for 81 yards, including two pass interference calls and a couple of personal foul calls, including one for unsportsmanlike conduct on the head coach. One can only imagine what Todd Haley could have said to get an unsportsmanlike conduct call.

The final line on Mark Sanchez was 13 for 21 for 181 yards with two touchdowns and a season best 121.2 QB rating. He had no interceptions (for the second straight game) and no fumbles. Sanchez isn’t putting up fantasy football numbers, but he’s quietly getting the job done. Sunday he became the first quarterback in Jets history to throw for two scores and rush for two scores in the same game.

The special teams also had a good game. Jeremy Kerley was back to fielding punts after Jim Leonhard left the game in the first half, and didn’t muff any this game. Nobody did. This is the special teams’ second straight games without a turnover after turning the ball over in four straight games.

[caption id="attachment_399" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Jets' Calvin Pace (87) sacks Chiefs' Tyler Palko (4). Photo by Bill Kostroun // the AP."]Jets' Calvin Pace (87) sacks Chiefs' Tyler Palko (4). Photo by Bill Kostroun // the AP.[/caption]

Finally, the Jets defense dominated the Kansas City offense for the first half, allowing only 4 total yards. No joke. The Chiefs had 4 yards in the first half. Seriously: 1, 2, 3, 4. The defense was also fairly dominant in the second half, although they let up more than 4 yards. Chiefs third string quarterback Tyler Palko deserves credit for threading his one touchdown pass in exactly the right place – between four Jets defenders. Sometimes guys just make good plays.  Most of the time though, Palko’s play wasn’t that good, and he was sacked five times by the Jets.

The only thing that really went wrong this game was the injury to safety Jim Leonhard, meaning that for the second year in a row, the Jets will be without their defensive field general down the stretch. It didn’t look like much, like he twisted his knee, but he tore his patella tendon and was placed on the Injured Reserve on Tuesday.

The Jets picked up safety Gerald Alexander for their final run, but losing Leonhard hurts. Safety Brodney Pool will, for the second straight year, step up to replace Leonhard as the defensive quarterback. The slight silver lining is that the Jets will have a full week to prepare for Philadelphia without Leonhard. Last year, Leonhard went down with a broken leg in practice 3 days before the Monday Night Massacre in New England, which the Jets lost 45-3 on national television.

Hopefully, with more time to prepare and less of a learning curve for Pool and the defense, the Jets will be able to beat the Eagles. The Jets have no won against the Eagles. Not in Philly, not in New York, not in preseason. Never. They’re 0-8 against the Eagles lifetime.

Finally, all the teams that had to lose for the Jets to be in a playoff spot on Sunday lost their games. Oakland was crushed by Green Bay, Tennessee lost to New Orleans, and Houston snuck by Cincinnati in the final minute of the game to win. This means that while the Jets went to 8-5, the Raiders, Titans, and Bengals all fell to 7-6, and that the Jets are in sole possession of the final AFC playoff spot.

There are still three games left this season, but as of right now, the Jets are in control of their own playoff fate, which is a 180 change from after the Denver game a month ago. The Jets are playing their best football of the season so far. The Jets have no wins against Philly. Ever. There’s a first time for everything. Here’s to hoping next Sunday is the first time.

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