By Peter Schwartz
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The Jets have been soaring so far in 2010 and on Sunday they’ll be flying a mile high as they take on the Broncos in Denver.
At 4-1, Gang Green holds down the top spot in the AFC East and they are one of 13 teams that hold at least a share of first place in their respective divisions.
With the bye week looming, it’s a chance for the Jets to head into their break with a five game winning streak, but it’s far from a slam-dunk. Dealing with the altitude in Colorado can be tricky for visiting players, but it’s something that comes with the territory.
“The altitude thing, you deal with it,” said Jason Taylor. “Is it different? Sure. Do you use it as an excuse? No. There is oxygen on the sideline and (if) you need a break, come out for a couple of plays and come back in. I’ve played in it before and I’ve had success in Denver and also lost a game in Denver before too, so you deal with it. It’s not that big a deal to me.”
What is a big deal for the Jets is the status of cornerback Darrelle Revis who will make the trip to Denver regardless of whether he plays or not. After missing two games with a strained left hamstring, Revis returned for Monday night’s win over the Vikings.
After the game, he complained that the hamstring was bothering him all night and that it was very sore while speaking to reporters.
Revis was able to take part in practice during the week and will be in Denver either as a player or as a supportive teammate.
“He wants to be with his team, whether he can play or not, and that’s
where I want him, also,” said head coach Rex Ryan. “Hopefully, he’ll be ready to play.”
Revis was limited in practice on Friday and is listed as questionable. A determination on his status will be made on Saturday after the team conducts a light practice.
Meanwhile, linebacker Calvin Pace is good to go and is listed as probable.
The Jets defense will have to deal with a high-flying Broncos offense led by quarterback Kyle Orton. The former Bears signal caller has thrown for 1,733 yards and 8 touchdown passes. Orton has passed for at least 300 yards in four straight games. That ties him with Brian Griese for the franchise record.
If he passes for 300 yards against the Jets, Orton would be in a tie for the fourth-longest streak in NFL history.
Wide receiver Jabbar Gaffney has 31 catches for 327 yards and a touchdown.
The Jets bread and butter should be able to flourish this week and that is the “ground and pound” running game. The Broncos have struggled so far this season in stopping the run so are the Jets licking their chops?
“We usually just worry about ourselves,” said Ladainian Tomlinson. “We don’t really look at the facts or the numbers of what teams have given up. We’re going to go out and attack them like we always do, and whatever happens, happens.”
Tomlinson certainly knows a thing or two about playing in Denver from his days with the Chargers. It’s a tough place to play for visiting teams so withstanding the early portion of the game is critical.
“This is a team that likes to start fast at home,” said Tomlinson who has rushed the ball 76 times for 435 yards this season. “The altitude can affect you, if you let it. It’s always been kind of their thing to start fast at home, get out to a big lead and then hold on to it. We have to be ready to go from the jump.”
Preparation was vital for the Jets this week for a number of reasons. First, it’s a short work week after the Monday night game and second, there are the challenges of playing in Denver.
The Jets certainly planned things accordingly.
“It’s important that we just take a little extra time knowing it’s a short week,” said Mark Sanchez. “Guys have already talked about getting your sleep because of the flight, the time change (and) the altitude. (It’s) more important than ever. Hydrate all week and really be smart and put the team first. We’ll do that in our preparation in the facility (and) outside the facility and we’ll be ready to go.”
Sanchez will try to do his part to pick apart a banged up Broncos defense. The Jets young signal caller has been terrific this season. He has thrown eight touchdown passes and has not yet been picked off. Sanchez is just the second NFL quarterback since 1970 to start a team’s first five games without an interception after throwing twenty or more the season before.
Sanchez will look to keep the ball rolling in Denver.
“They have a couple of guys out and we’ll see who suits up,” said Sanchez. “They are a tough group and they’re flying around on film. They’re a fast flow defense and they are aggressive. Champ Bailey is one of the best of all time at cornerback, so he’s one of those guys that you have to keep an eye on. Then, just a ton of playmakers, so it’s going to be a good challenge for us and our guys. We all have to get better from last week. It was a great win, but we need to score some touchdowns to beat this team.”
The offense did struggle finding the end zone against the Vikings in a game that featured the return of wide receiver Santonio Holmes from his four-game suspension.
Holmes is now one of many weapons that Sanchez has at his disposal and is confident that the offense will get even better.
“We’re on the incline,” said Holmes. “We’re still peaking. We had a setback with no touchdowns by the receivers since the first game of the season, but things happen. You have to take the punches, go back in the lab, see what you guys need to work on, put everything together and get out there and have fun again.”
The offense has had plenty of fun during the season because they have not been turning the ball over. The Jets have only one turnover in their first five games. If they don’t commit a turnover on Sunday, they will become the first team in NFL history to commit one or fewer turnovers in the first six games of a season.
The Jets haven’t committed a turnover since the week one loss to the Ravens.
A victory would be the Jets sixth consecutive regular season road win dating back to last season.
The Broncos lead the all-time series 16-14 with one tie. The Broncos have won three of the past four overall and four of the last five in Denver. The last meeting occurred on November 30th, 2008 at Giants Stadium when the Broncos beat the Jets 34-14. The Jets’ last trip to Denver was not a memorable one. On November 20th, 2004, the Broncos roughed up Gang Green 27-0.
SPORTING NEW ATTIRE
A few Jets were seen in the locker room on Friday wearing specially designed robes with their names and numbers on the back. Mark Sanchez, Jason Taylor, and Nick Mangold were all spotted walking around with them and took some ribbing from their teammates.
A confused Darrelle Revis was wondering why he didn’t get one!
With or without Revis, the Jets will get the job done and reach the bye week at 5-1. Jets 23 Broncos 16.
That’s it for now. Enjoy the game everyone!