It's about time!
The defense showed up and played like they've been supposed to all year, and the offense played well enough to win. Sure, it wasn't the prettiest win, but who cares at this point? They needed a win, and they got it, and it was pretty convincing. They aren't back in the playoff picture, but one game wasn't going to do that. They probably need to win the next five as well and get some help, but either way, if the Jets can play well down the stretch, they can see a glimpse of what they can be next year with a year more experienced quarterback, and hopefully gain some more confidence.
*What can you say about Darrelle Revis? The guy is simply the best cornerback in the NFL. He had two interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown on a fluky play where the ball was deflected to him off Steve Smith's foot. Smith was a non-factor all game long. Yes, he was hurt, but this was almost all Revis. He also had a QB pressure on one of Kerry Rhodes's picks, and he made a nice tackle on DeAngelo Williams near the sideline. What a player.
*Rhodes wishes (and might think) he is as good as Revis, but he certainly hadn't proven it thus far, leading to Rex Ryan to bench him in favor of harder hitting Eric Smith. Smith played well enough to probably earn himself another start, but Rhodes came up with two interceptions, and definitely will stay a key part of the defensive rotation. He needs to make more impact plays like that in the future, but it's always good seeing "Hollywood" living up to his reputation on the field.
*Mark Sanchez did a good job, only turning the ball over once. His one interception came when he barely underthrew Braylon Edwards. Chris Gamble had decent coverage underneath, but if Sanchez leads Edwards, he has a big gain. Overall, however, he did a good job managing the game. The Jets didn't ask him to do much, but he made plays when he needed to, and did everything the Jets asked of him.
*The Jets continue to shoot themselves in the foot with stupid turnovers. This time, it wasn't Sanchez, but Dustin Keller and Shonn Greene. Keller fumbled stretching for the goalline in the 3rd quarter. If he just goes down, the Jets have 1st and goal from the 1 and probably ice the game at 21-3, but that fumble gave the Panthers some life. Greene's fumble wasn't as costly as the one he had against Miami at home, but it still ended a drive the Jets were likely going to at least kick a field goal on. They need to play smarter.
*Shaun Ellis was an animal on the defensive line, making a number of plays. He's a bit underappreciated as far as Jets go, but games like this remind you of how valuable he is to this team. He was a key factor why DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart had very few running lanes, other than the two 3rd and longs Williams converted on the first drive of the game.
*Kudos to Brian Schottenheimer. He didn't get cute and try to throw on the Panthers, who have a decent secondary. He ran and ran and ran some more, and most impressively, he stuck with it when it wasn't working. He followed the offensive recipe to beat the Panthers. The defense gave him a lead, and he was able to play a ball-control offense, not putting his offense at risk of too many turnovers. You can't predict fumbles.
Next up is Buffalo on Thursday up in Toronto. The Bills beat the Dolphins 31-14, putting the Jets and Dolphins into a tie at 5-6 with the Bills a game behind. The Jets surely want revenge for the Bills' victory in Giants Stadium earlier this year, and hopefully Mark Sanchez throws less than five interceptions.