On the only day in the last ten years where losing was flat out unacceptable in New York, the Jets dug deep and pulled out a wild 27-24 win over the Dallas Cowboys.
In the end, the Jets won, so Jets fans don’t have to feel terrible about the game. But in reality, this game was not enjoyable for Jets fans up until the fourth quarter. There's a lot of work the Jets need to do.
The Jets defense looked brilliant for some stretches and dismal for others. Cornerback Antonio Cromartie was lit up twice for two touchdowns, one at the mercy of Dez Bryant and one when Miles Austin ripped a would-be interception out of his hands in the end zone. Cromartie was supposed to cover Bryant the entire game, but the Jets changed course and had him cover Austin while Darrelle Revis covered Bryant. Tony Romo threw for 342 yards. And while Bart Scott was brilliant, Darrelle Revis made a key interception, and Jim Leonhard was probably the unsung hero of the game, Rex Ryan gave out no game balls, citing inconsistency.
Leonhard single handedly saved the game in the fourth when he hustled all the way down the field to knock Jason Witten out of bounds at the 3 yard line. Witten snagged a Romo pass and ran with it for 64 yards. If Witten scored, the Jets would be 2 touchdowns behind with about 10 minutes to go and out of the game. Instead, Witten was knocked out and the Jets recovered Romo’s fumble 3 plays later.
The offense was the offense we’ve become so familiar with the last few years. They scored 17 points on their own merit and got help from the special teams. The special teams were pretty good, limiting Dallas’s ability to gain good field position along with Isaiah Trufant scoring a TD on a punt blocked by Joe McKnight. The offensive line looked a bit shaky with right tackle Wayne Hunter having to battle it out with star outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware, who had two sacks. This was Hunter’s first game with the Jets, but there needs to be some improvement.
LaDainian Tomlinson came up big a few times, including on a crucial third and long late in the game, but Shonn Greene kept running into the pile and in 10 attempts only gained 26 yards, averaging 2.6 yards per carry. This is going to be a problem if Greene is going to be the main man carrying the ball this season. You can't have any kind of ground game without a running back that can get through holes and make plays. Greene is supposed to be that guy now, and has to step up. If the Jets want to preserve LT and have a running game, Greene is going to have to get better quickly.
The real offensive story, though, was Sanchez throwing the ball. He tied a career high in pass attempts with 44 and threw for 335 yards, 2 TDs and 1 interception. It seems safe to say that the training wheels have officially come off and that Sanchez is going to be expected to be a real leader on the field this season. The pass/run ratio was 48-16, the most lopsided ratio of Ryan’s tenure as head coach. That “ground and pound” thing the Jets have always talked about? Just a myth, apparently.
While Sanchez did make mistakes and does need to learn to work better with his receivers (his communication with Holmes looked pretty good but Burress disappeared for long stretches and Mason was almost completely MIA), his mistakes were not as costly as Tony Romo’s mistakes, and Sanchez is still young, only in his third year. Romo’s in his sixth year as a starter for Dallas.
Not for nothing, but Jets fans should give credit where it’s due. They should remember to thank Romo for this win. While Jets fans have heard of Romo’s habitual choking in the clutch, this is the first time they’ve been able to witness it first hand.
As @RealJoeNamath tweeted, “It's terrific how much Romo's contributed to our cause in such a short time.”
In the fourth quarter, Romo fumbled on the Jet one yard line, threw an interception straight to Revis (who is a great corner and is so infrequently tested he had no interceptions last season), and then in Dallas’s Hail Mary moments, he wasn’t ready for the snap and had to grab the ball and just throw it away, eating 5 seconds off the clock with 8 seconds left and wasting a down. This gave the Jets offense more chances to score, gain good field position, and then let the defense off the hook without having to really defend anything.
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