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Earlier in the week, Calvin Pace claimed that the New York Jets needed to win their next six games if they hoped to make the playoffs. Yesterday, Rex Ryan said “I’d much rather play the University of Buffalo than the Buffalo Bills” explaining that despite their late season struggles the Buffalo Bills could still potentially give the Jets trouble.
On Sunday, the Buffalo Bills put validity behind Coach Ryan’s statement, giving the Jets plenty of trouble but it was the New York Jets that were victorious, 28-24, now altering Calvin Pace’s claim into a necessary five game winning streak, instead of six.
Mark Sanchez did not complete his first pass until their were only 35 second to go in the first quarter. His woes as Jets quarterback continued. The Jets defensive woes continued as well, still hungover from last Thursday’s breakdown against Tim Tebow. After a sloppy showing by the Jets defense, resulting in a Bills touchdown making the score 7-0, the Jets answered right back.
Shonn Greene, Joe McKnight, and Santonio Holmes all contributed with big runs while Dustin Keller finally announced his presence in the Jets offensive attack, picking up his third touchdown of the year and only his first since week two. The Jets tied the game at 7-7 but Sanchez’s season woes continued.
After stopping the Bills on three downs, wasting their excellent starting field position, the Jets regained possession at their own one yard line. Dangerously dropping back to pass in his own end zone, Sanchez threw the ball right into the hands of Bills cornerback, Drayton Florence. The Bills quickly capitalized with a Stevie Johnson touchdown on Revis Island, proving that Sanchez’s mistakes continue to hurt the Jets.
Like they did down 7-0, the Jets fought back and took their turn capitalizing on mistakes. A botched kick by Bills kicker, Dave Rayner, gave the Jets great field position; something they would not waste. Mark Sanchez connected with Plaxico Burress for the score, tying the game at 14-14. Despite his weekly struggles and early struggles Sunday, the third year quarterback showed his promise, scratching and clawing his way under the good graces of the Jets faithful.
Ignoring the headlines of New York newspapers, shooing away the boo birds, and attempting to silence the critics, Mark Sanchez stepped up his game on the first offensive possession of the second half and came out of the gate with a bang. The Jets offense mixed and matched, continued with their ground attack and finally established a strategy through the air, all leading to another Dustin Keller touchdown to take a 21-14 lead.
Since starting the season 5-1, the Buffalo Bills defense has crumbled more and more each week, resulting in four losses in their past five games, including blowouts to the Miami Dolphins and the Jets. After taking a seven point lead, Gang Green had the Bills right where they wanted them with plans to continue with their ground and pound attack; the same approach that the Bills defense had been unable to stop for the majority of the game.
Football is a team sport but one players mistakes can easily be the difference in any game. With momentum in hand after taking the lead and stopping Buffalo three and out, Antonio Cromartie coughed up the ball on his first punt return attempt of the game, shifting the momentum within seconds. On the next series, Cromartie’s shame built up even more, getting beat by ex-Jet Brad Smith, allowing the Bills to score and tie the game, 21-21.
The Bills later took the lead on a field goal, making the score 24-21.
Following three straight touchdowns, Mark Sanchez threw four straight incompletions, resulting in two straight three and outs. Did we start to praise the young quarterback a little too early once again? Probably. With the ball back, down three points, and less than six minutes to go in the game, could Mark Sanchez order up another late, fourth quarter comeback? Maybe.
Starting on their own 18 yard line, Mark Sanchez and the Jets moved the ball down field, putting themselves in position to either tie the game or take the lead. On a crucial 3rd and 11, Plaxico Burress stepped up tremendously, making the play of the game and arguably a play that saved the season for the New York Jets.
Rolling out of the pocket, Sanchez waited for an open receiver and ultimately found Santonio Holmes in the end zone, helping his young quarterback cap off another impressive, fourth quarter comeback and taking a 28-24 lead with a minute left on the clock.
Unable to stop Tim Tebow on last weeks final drive, the defense did the opposite this week and prevented the Bills from following through with their own comeback, although not before giving every Jets fan another, weekly heart attack.
One week at a time. One game at a time. One win at a time.
It certainly was not pretty but in the National Football League, extra points are not given for appearance…unless you’re Tom Brady of course. Despite his career high four touchdowns, Mark Sanchez certainly was not pretty either, but he got the job done. Once again, that is all that matters.