By Peter Schwartz
When my wife and I were dating, I wanted to buy her a Mets jersey (insert joke here), so I went to a local sporting goods store and picked one up for her.
My only concern was getting the right number on the jersey so I asked her what her choice would be if she was to have a new jersey.
She said she didn’t want a number because it takes a team to win a game.
I thought about that comment on Sunday as the seconds wound down in the Jets’ 28-14 win over the Patriots at New Meadowlands Stadium.
The victory evened the Jets’ record at 1-1 and delivered nothing but smiles after the game.
“This was a huge game for us,” said head coach Rex Ryan. “The thing I’m most proud of is that it took every last man in our locker room to get it done for us today.”
The Jets found a way to win despite losing Darrelle Revis for the whole second half with an injured hamstring, Nick Mangold for a series with a shoulder injury, and Jason Taylor for a few plays with an injured elbow.
Eric Smith and Brad Smith also had some bumps and bruises but they certainly feel a lot better after a win.
When Revis pulled up lame on a 35-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady to Randy Moss late in the first half to give the Pats a 14-7 lead, there probably weren’t too many among the 78,535 in attendance who thought the Jets had any chance to win the game.
But the defense pitched a shutout against a beleaguered Tom Brady and company in the second half.
“The first thing on my mind was I want to be out there,” said Revis. “The second thing is, ‘Stop Tom Brady and that offense.’ I was just crossing my fingers that we would stop those guys.”
And that’s exactly what happened.
Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson upped their games from disappointing performances in the season opener against the Ravens. Cromartie even came up with an interception, as did safety Brodney Pool who suited up after missing the Baltimore game with an injured ankle.
Jason Taylor shook off the elbow injury to sack Brady late in the game and force a fumble.
Offensively, Mark Sanchez and company came to life. Sanchez threw for 220 yards and three touchdowns. Down 14-13, Sanchez found Jerricho Cotchery for the go-ahead two-yard touchdown pass in the quarter.
Sanchez gets my game-ball for Sunday’s performance. He was outstanding with a passer rating of 124.3 and, at least for the time being, silenced the critics that were chirping all week long.
“We didn’t pay much attention to it,” said Sanchez of the naysayers. “This team has some great leaders and has a lot of experience to lean on and I think it really showed tonight.”
LaDainian Tomlinson was certainly one of those leaders.
“I thought he was washed up,” said Ryan.
Tomlinson had 11 carries for 76 yards and continues to show that he has a little, maybe even a lot left in the tank.
Dustin Keller also had a huge bounce back game. After stepping out of bounds a yard short of a first down that sealed Monday’s loss to the Ravens, Keller hauled in 7 catches for 115 yards and a touchdown.
While there were so many positives for the Jets, it’s hard to find many negatives other than the injuries. To find someone at fault for anything is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. But linebacker David Harris took responsibility for the Moss touchdown because he felt he got the defensive call in too late.
But that’s simply nitpicking. The Jets came through with a big time game.
I’ll admit it. I didn’t see this coming. This looked to be a tough spot for a team that had a turbulent week. But somehow, the put all of the outside distractions behind them and avoided falling into an 0-2 hole.
So now, the Jets are 1-1 heading into Sunday night’s game in Miami against the 2-0 Dolphins.
After everything went wrong in week one, there’s a much better feeling around the team after week two. With the weight of the world on their shoulders, the Jets came through with a brilliant performance.
The Jets will await the results of Revis’ MRI on Monday. They will likely have to live without their Pro-Bowl corner for a while, but on Sunday, they proved head coach Rex Ryan to be right about one thing. It was something that he said time and time again while Revis was holding out in training camp.
“It’s not about one person. It’s about the team.”
Both Ryan and my wife couldn’t have said it better.