Saturday, November 15, 2008

What's that I see?

New York Jets - 7-3
New England Patriots - 6-4
Miami Dolphins - 5-4
Buffalo Bills - 5-4

First place! Folks, it's time to start rooting against teams like the Steelers. If the Steelers lose to the Chargers, the Jets would be in line for a first round bye in the playoffs. Imagine that.

And the schedule?

at Tennessee
vs Denver
at San Francisco
vs Buffalo
at Seattle
vs Miami

Other than the Titans game, the Jets will certainly be favorites in every game. And why can't the Jets beat the Titans? With an extra three days of rest and preparation, the Jets should be confident and prepared. If the Patriots game was a gut-check to see if this team could be a good one, this Titans game will prove if this team can be a GREAT team.

As for some thoughts on the Patriots game, what can you say? The Jets were able to run the ball on the Patriots enough to win, and Brett Favre had his best game as a Jet.

Before Thursday's game, I would have told you the Jets could have been 6-3 with either Chad Pennington or Brett Favre.

Now the Favre effect has finally kicked in.

Sure, Pennington defeated the Pats up in Foxboro in 2002 and 2006. But his time had come and passed. Favre threw passes that Pennington could only dream of making, and his receivers did not let him down. Jerricho Cotchery's helmet catch v2.0 is one of the prettiest receptions you will ever see.

The first half was a thing of beauty. The Jets dictated the pace offensively, and the only thing that stopped the Jets early was Dustin Keller dropping a wide open pass in the end zone. At 24-6 the Jets were dominating the game, and they even got the ball back with a chance to basically put the game away.

Instead, they allowed a late touchdown to give the Patriots some momentum heading into the third quarter. This was far from the only time the SOJAPs would appear (same old Jets against the Patriots), but it was the first sign that the Patriots simply would not die easy.

To beat the best, a team needs to play all four quarters at its highest level. And the Jets did that. New England punched back, eventually tying the game at 24, ending any premature Jet celebrations, and giving fans and players feelings of, "Here we go again."

But then the Jets got off the mat with some swings of their own. A beautiful 14 play, 67-yard drive drained two time outs away from the Patriots as well as 7:08 off the clock. More importantly, it ended in a touchdown, making New England have to score a touchdown with limited time left.

And when the Patriots got the ball back, looking to tie it up, Kris Jenkins rose to the occasion and sacked Matt Cassel. Even Bill Bellichick couldn't go for it on a 4th and 19, so when Chris Hanson punted the ball away, it looked like the game was over.

Gain 10 yards, and the game was over. The Patriots managed to come up with a stop a yard short of the first down, so they would get the ball back, but with 1:04 to go and no time outs left, driving 62 yards and finishing in the endzone did not look very promising.

Then the SOJAPs reappeared, as a prevent defense allowed the Patriots to easily march down the field before running out of time at the 16 yard-line. 4th and 1. 8 seconds left. Stop them, and the game is over. Nevermind the prevent defense before, this is what you were hoping for, give them only one shot, and shut it down.

But rather than check Randy Moss at the line of scrimmage, which had helped hold him to just 10 yards on 2 catches, they put Ty Law on him, and when Cassel avoided trouble, he threw it to his star receiver, hoping he would make a play. The pass was perfect, and Randy Moss made the catch despite Ty Law being blanketed all over him.

I admit, when I saw it at first, I couldn't believe what I had just seen. I thought it was a cruel nightmare.

So did the Jets' players. Shaun Ellis, who admitted during the week that he didn't think the Patriots respected them, admitted that he felt some SOJAP feelings coming back, and undoubtedly every Jets fan watching felt the same way.

But tails won the coin toss for the Jets, giving them another chance to win. The next three plays killed most Jets' fans' hopes though. Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski booted a touchback, not giving Leon Washington a chance to return a second kick to the house. Then substitute linebacker Pierre Woods sacked Favre on first down, already pushing the Jets back and hurting their chances of getting the first down. An incompletion on 2nd down brought up a 3rd and 15. Another incompletion, and the Patriots get the ball back with good field position against a tired and demoralized defense.

Brett Favre and Dustin Keller had other ideas. Favre hit an uncovered Keller, who managed to get just enough yards to get the first down. Jones and Keller then moved the ball down the field until a 16-yard strike to Laveranues Coles moved the Jets down to the 24-yard line, in range for a Jay Feely field goal. 3 plays later, and Feely's 34-yarder sent the Jets home happy.

What a win! Would it have been nice to dominate them the entire game? Yes, but give New England credit. They are a very good football team, and Matt Cassel is a good quarterback, despite having no deep ball.

But on this night, the Jets were just a little better.