FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — The New York Jets were dragging on offense, unable to get anything cranking during a second straight sluggish performance.
Then, desperation led to a successful spark: the hurry-up offense.
“For some reason, Detroit just sat back and wasn’t as aggressive as we’re normally accustomed to and it was just like playing catch, pretty much,” wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery said Thursday. “It was very, very easy.”
Mark Sanchez and the Jets went to their two-minute, no-huddle offense on their last three drives of regulation in Detroit to storm back from a 10-point deficit to tie it Sunday. New York won the overtime coin toss and kept the fast pace going, pulling off a 23-20 victory.
“I think their guys were probably getting tired,” said Santonio Holmes, who caught a 52-yard pass on the winning drive. “We practiced two-minute against our No. 1 defense everyday for every week of practice and I think it definitely pays off when you get into that situation.”
Holmes said he brought up the idea of having the first-team offense practice against the first-team defense in critical situations — third-down opportunities and two-minute drills — around the time he returned from a four-game suspension in Week 5.
“It was something that definitely benefited us in Pittsburgh,” said Holmes, in his first season with the Jets after four with the Steelers. “I think it’s definitely benefiting us right now.”
Cotchery said the first-teamers went up against each other in practice at times earlier this season, but have now done it in critical situations for a few consecutive weeks.
“Our defense is so aggressive, so when you’re going up against a defense like that in two-minute that’s always in attacking mode, it’s kind of tough,” Cotchery said. “We’ve been able to compete against our defense pretty well.”
That’s one reason things might have seemed so easy with the game on the line against the Lions. So, after being shut out 9-0 against Green Bay two weeks ago and struggling mightily in Detroit last week, why not go to the hurry-up offense more often — and not just in desperation?
“I won’t let any secrets out, but we definitely feel like those are some of our best situations because of the tempo,” running back LaDainian Tomlinson said. “We’re able to speed up our tempo and we like to do fast tempo. This offense really thrives on that. It could be something we’ll do.”
Not that the Jets are ready to scrap their ground-and-pound, run-first mentality.
“You don’t want to get too crazy with it,” Cotchery said. “You’d like to progress as an offense. We’re on the right track.”
But, Rex Ryan couldn’t possibly think about opening this week’s game against Cleveland in the two-minute offense to throw off the Browns and his twin brother, Rob, the defensive coordinator, right?
Or, could he?
“I don’t know,” Sanchez said, smiling. “We’ll see. That would be a great changeup for us, so who knows?”
The Jets went to the no-huddle with 8:13 left in the game on a drive that resulted in a punt — a key play in the game. Steve Weatherford booted the ball to the Lions 7 and the Jets held Detroit to a three-and-out.
Six plays and 1 minute, 40 seconds later, the Jets were within three at 20-17.
“Talk about a fast-break, people use the analogy of a point guard,” Sanchez said. “That’s the ultimate fast-break situation where you’re playing so fast, you’re just reacting to things and the defense is in their tendencies.”
After another three-and-out by the Lions, who helped the Jets by throwing on third down, it was back to the hurry-up. It took just another 1:40 for New York to get the tying field goal as regulation time expired.
“Mark likes to go fast,” offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said. “He likes to have a tempo to him. It just kind of puts him at ease. I think that’s one of the things that you’ve seen is that he gets people moving and gets very comfortable and confident knowing that, ‘Hey, I’m dictating the tempo of the game, and they’re going to have to adjust to me.’”
Feeling so good about what they just accomplished, Sanchez appealed to Ryan to start overtime in the two-minute offense. Ryan signed off on it, and the Jets walked off the field with a victory a few minutes later.
“It worked in that situation,” Sanchez said. “It was something we absolutely needed. Whether we start a game off with it or not, or we just use it in the crunch time when we need it, that’s fine.”
Schottenheimer acknowledged that the Jets could use it more often.
“It’s always in our hip pocket,” he said. “We talk about it every week.”
Notes: LG Matt Slauson (knee) returned to practice, but DB Marquice Cole (hamstring) was on the stationary bike. “It doesn’t look good for this week for Marquice,” Ryan said, basically ruling him out against Cleveland.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.
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