Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Jets hold off Vikings 29-20

It wasn't pretty, but the Jets got a big home win last night, beating Brett Favre and the Vikings 29-20.

The first part of the game was all Jets. Gang Green led 9-0 at halftime, and it really should have been more. The Vikings were a mess offensively, unable to get anything going, but the Jets' redzone offense failed to get touchdowns twice, instead settling for short field goals.

In the second half, the previously dormant Vikings' offense suddenly woke up when Favre hit Randy Moss down the right sideline for a long touchdown pass on a 3rd and 17, and suddenly, it was a 12-7 football game. The Jets added another field goal before Favre found Harvin on another third-and-long for a 34-yard touchdown to make it 15-13.

However, the Jets answered back. With 7:06 left in the game and the ball, the Jets marched down the field and finally scored their first touchdown of the game. Up by 2 points at the time, Shonn Greene's touchdown gave the Jets a two score lead that should have iced the game. But after Percy Harvin returned the kickoff 44 yards, Favre orchestrated a 5 play, 54-yard drive culminating in Harvin's second touchdown reception to make it a game again.

The Jets got the ball back, needing a few first downs to win the game. They got one on a Braylon Edwards catch. But then clock management woes reared their ugly head. With a two-second difference between the play clock and the two-minute warning, the Jets decided to throw the ball, hoping to end the game right there. It was a smart idea, but when Sanchez snapped the ball with 5 seconds left on the playclock and the pass fell incomplete, the Jets needed to run another play before the two-minute warning. This gave the Vikings about 40 more seconds to potentially get a game-winning field goal.

Fortunately, Favre overthrew Harvin on a deep ball and then he threw his first interception of the game, which Dwight Lowery returned for a touchdown to make the 29-20 final score.

Mark Sanchez's final numbers don't look great. He finished 21 for 44 for 191 yards. He didn't put the ball in the endzone, but he didn't turn it over either, even as the rain poured on the field. His receivers didn't help him much either, as there were a number of passes that hit receivers in the hands that they couldn't bring in. The Jets were conservative for most of the game with the lead, part of the reason drives kept ending in Nick Folk field goals instead of touchdowns.

Darrelle Revis, Santonio Holmes, and Calvin Pace all returned to action with mixed reviews. Pace made his presence felt with 1.5 sacks. His return is key for this defense to apply pressure the rest of the year. Holmes was targeted 9 times, but he only came down with 3 catches and didn't get a chance to flash his playmaking ability. He and Cotchery took turns as the no. 2 receiver, with Edwards clearly the no. 1 for now.

Revis, however, struggled. He recovered a fumble and helped out in run support, but in coverage, he clearly wasn't himself. Percy Harvin burned him across the middle for one touchdown, and even Greg Lewis burned him on a double move to the sideline. After the game, he was very sore and swollen, so it's unclear if he'll be available against Denver on Sunday. The Jets may hold him out with the bye week coming up one week later.

This was a big win for the Jets against a talented Minnesota team. But this game showed a few chinks in the Jets' armor. Two of Minnesota's touchdowns came on third-and-long situations when the Jets sent multiple rushers and the safeties weren't there to help. Most teams don't have playmakers like Moss and Harvin, but the Vikings caught on quickly to burn the Jets on blitzes. Revis's play is also a bit troubling, especially when the Jets are about to play a pass-happy Broncos team, but he will have a week off next week.

The good news besides the win is the Jets didn't suffer any new injuries. The Jets are remarkably healthy at this stage of the season, especially compared to their next opponent. But the defense needs to gain some consistency. After dominating the first half, the defensive lapses in the second half almost cost them the game. And if the offense scores touchdowns instead of field goals early in the game, the Vikings' late comeback might not have mattered. Still, a win is a win, and with the Dolphins and Patriots both having bye weeks, the Jets are now alone on top of the AFC East.