What it means: For the second time in three games, the New York Jets escaped near-certain defeat, scoring on their final three possessions (once in overtime) to defeat the Detroit Lions. This time, it wasn’t a pass-interference penalty that saved them. It was lousy clock management by the Lions and clutch play by Mark Sanchez & Co. that allowed the Jets to overcome a 10-point deficit in the final three minutes of regulation. Coupled with New England’s loss, the Jets moved into a first-place tie.
Analysis: The Jets were stunned when the Lions decided to pass the ball on a third-and-6 with two minutes remaining. The pass by backup Drew Stanton (in for the injured Matthew Stafford) was incomplete and the Jets got the ball with 1:40 to play with no timeouts left. If the Lions had run, they would’ve given the Jets about a minute -- and chances of a game-tying field goal would’ve been just about nil.
Kicker Nick Folk is having a tremendous year, and he came up huge, kicking a 36-yard field goal at the end of regulartion and winning it with a 30-yarder in OT. It’s an amazing comeback story by a kicker who was on the street almost a year ago.
For the second time in three games, Mark Sanchez led a fourth-quarter comeback win -- the only two of his career. He was mediocre for 56 minutes, but he perked up as soon as the offense went into a hurry-up mode. He likes the two-minute offense, and had been asking to do it earlier. He showed poise and patience in the pocket, leading three scoring drives.
There’s something wrong with the Jets’ offense. For the second straight week, they were undermined by dropped passes (two more by Jerricho Cotchery), penalties and turnovers. Sanchez threw an interception on an underthrown deep ball to Santonio Holmes, and Braylon Edwards was stripped of the ball after a short reception early in the third quarter. What is it with the Jets’ receivers and their butter fingers? They can’t even hold on to the ball after they make the catch. (See last week’s two strip interceptions.)
Of the 11 penalties, the costliest was Trevor Pryce’s roughing-the-kicker infraction on a 21-yard field-goal attempt. Pryce stumbled into Jason Hanson, cutting him down at the knees, but it’s still a penalty even if it’s not intentional. The Lions took the points off the board because it gave them a first down and they scored on Stafford’s 1-yard bootleg. By the way, Hanson was injured, so rookie defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh had to kick the PAT – and he missed. As if that mattered.
The low point of the day for the defense was a 90-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter. Nickel back Drew Coleman gave up two completions for 38 yards to Nate Burleson, including the two-yard touchdown on the fade route. But the most damning sequence occurred before the touchdown, in goal-line, when the Jets had to burn two defensive timeouts because of confusion. That rarely happens to their defense, usually a well-coached unit. But it seems like the overall lack of discipline has spread like a virus to the defense.
Where was Ground and Pound? Facing the NFL’s 27th-ranked run defense, the Jets were absolutely convinced they’d be able to run all over the Lions. Didn’t happen. They tried everything, using “heavy” packages, featuring Shonn Greene (for a change) and sticking with it for as long as possible. No matter. They rushed for only 110 yards.
Want something positive? Sanchez’ bomb to Edwards with one minute remaining in the first half. Until that play, which gave the Jets a 10-7 lead, the offense had gone 86 minutes, 27 seconds without a touchdown (nearly six quarters), dating to the Week 6 win in Denver. There was nothing fancy about the play. On third-and-9, Edwards ran a ‘go’ route on cornerback Alphonso Smith. He caught the ball at the 21 and was home free, Sanchez’ pass traveling about 65 yards in the air. Going into the game, the Jets’ coaches felt the Lions’ cornerbacks were vulnerable. It took the Jets 29 minutes before they capitalized.
Here’s another positive: Revis Island is back. Cornerback Darrelle Revis delivered a vintage performance on Calvin Johnson, holding the Lions’ star receiver to one catch for 13 yards. Revis made a statement on the first play of the game, breaking up a deep sideline pass to Johnson. Clearly, Revis is over his hamstring injury, which affected him for about five weeks. The Lions stayed away from Revis and picked on Coleman throughout the game.
What’s ahead: Get ready for the Mangini Bowl. The Jets face their former coach for the first time since he was fired after the 2008 season, as they visit the Cleveland Browns. Another storyline is the battle of the Ryan brothers. Rex Ryan’s twin brother, Rob, is the Browns’ defensive coordinator. It’ll be a week of family trash talking.