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The New York Jets 2011 season can be compared to a roller coaster that goes up…and down.
Starting the season on a two game win streak, the Jets followed wins against Dallas and Jacksonville with three straight road losses. After beating Miami and San Diego in impressive fashion, the Jets kept their winning streak alive for their third straight win, picking up their first road win of the season, beating the Buffalo Bills 27-11.
The New York Jets put together a methodical drive on their opening possession, consisting of big runs by Shonn Greene, efficiency from Mark Sanchez, a majority of Jets receivers getting involved and one…big…mistake.
Taking the ball all the way inside the Bills ten yard line, Mark Sanchez dropped back and threw a pass right into the arms of Buffalo defender, Jairus Byrd, as if they were old pals having a catch in the backyard.
Missed opportunities have plagued the Jets all season and probably for the majority of their existence. This missed opportunity proved to be costly as the Jets entered the half only up 3-0 on Nick Folk’s 49-yard field goal, after dominating and playing with conviction for the majority of the first half.
In what seemed like the longest two minutes of football history, the missed and wasted opportunities came out to play once again at the two minute warning of the first half. After a Jets interception, the offense ran only ten seconds off the clock, only to watch Nick Folk miss a 50-yard field goal with the wind at his back. On the very next play, Ryan Fitzpatrick threw another interception, giving the Jets the ball back with 50 seconds left and solid field position.
If Mark Sanchez made a list of things he does the most, breathing would be number one. Handling snaps would be number two. On the play after Fitzpatrick’s interception, Sanchez remembered to breath but forgot to handle the snap from Nick Mangold, capping off a disastrous first half for the third year quarterback. After the Bills recovered the fumble, they too wasted an opportunity and the Jets defense held them on four down.
Wait…another wasted opportunity? Opening the second half, Joe McKnight returned the kickoff for 59 yards but the Jets offense remained quiet, going three and out and punting the ball.The Jets inability to move the ball continued but they iucked up three more points on Nick Folk’s 50-yard field goal, making the score 6-0.
Despite the Jets offensive struggles, the defense suited up with authority. After forcing a fumble on arguably the league’s best running back this year, Fred Jackson, the Jets took a 13-0 lead on LaDainian Tomlinson’s one-yard touchdown run.
Buffalo came roaring back but the Jets defense ceased their attack and held them to a field goal, cutting the Jets lead, 13-3.
Thankfully for the Jets, a sleeping giant does not stay asleep forever. In a drive consisting of impressive throws by Sanchez and a big pass interference call, Sanchez and the Jets capped off the drive again through the air with a Santonio Holmes touchdown catch in the end zone. The Jets took a 20-3 lead.
For the second straight week, the Jets running attack was established, aiding in an eight minute drive leading to a John Conner one-yard touchdown run, giving the Jets a 27-3 lead, putting the icing on the cake. Shonn Greene finished the game with 76 rushing yards and the offense as a whole finished with over 100 yards on the ground.
Plaxico Burress also had a big game for the second straight week, catching five passes for 79 yards.
The defense, ladies and gentlemen, came to play.
On a fourth and inches with about fourteen minutes left in the game, the Buffalo Bills driving and in the read zone, knocking on touchdown’s door, the Jets defense stacked up their line and stopped Fred Jackson way short of the first down marker; undoubtedly the play of the game.
The defense set the tone from the very beginning with a three and out to start the game and never looked back. Intercepting Fitzpatrick twice and forcing a fumble, the defense kept one of the leagues best offense in check and held the powerful Buffalo scoring attack to only eleven points.
Once again, Mark Sanchez started off slow and sloppy, turning the ball over twice. Once again, Mark Sanchez ended the game strongly, throwing the ball efficiently and making smart and effective decisions.
He went back to his roots, finding his big receivers and managing the game clock well, developing time consuming drives resulting in points. Finally getting smart, the “Sanchise” found a weakness in the Bill’s defense and infiltrated it by throwing it deep to Santonio Holmes twice, resulting in two crucial passing interference calls.
It only makes you wonder how dangerous Mark Sanchez could be if he ever put it together for four full quarters. But despite his mistakes early in games, in the National Football League, it is all about how you finish a game, not how you start one.