By Peter Schwartz
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It certainly wasn’t pretty, but Sunday’s 28-24 win over the Bills ensures that the Jets will have another meaningful week of work — and that a win over the Redskins will keep the ball rolling in their fight for a playoff spot.
But let’s be honest. The Jets are very lucky that they were hosting the Bills because they really didn’t play that well.
And it starts with quarterback Mark Sanchez, who I have continued to defend all season. The offensive problems are not all his fault, but he made several questionable decisions and threw an interception for the fifth straight game. He is still a young NFL quarterback, but his decision-making has to improve. One can only point at the offensive line for lack of protection for so long.
Having said that, he came up big when he had to. Sanchez was 9 of 15 for 114 yards in the second half. His toss on third and eleven on the deciding drive allowed Plaxico Burress to make a sensational one-handed catch along the left sideline. That set up the game-winning touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes.
It was the eighth game-winning touchdown drive for Sanchez in his career. I know he has a lot of work to do, but his detractors need to back off. He wins games. It’s not always pretty, but he wins. And he’s going to get better.
I thought that the defense played well, as the Sanchez pick and the Antonio Cromartie muffed punt led to 14 Buffalo points. They found themselves in familiar territory in the final minute as the Bills tried to drive for the game-winning score. The defense held, although they got a couple of breaks with drops by Stevie Johnson, but mission completed.
Speaking of Johnson, did you see his celebration following his second quarter touchdown catch? If you haven’t, here it is…
What Johnson did was classless. While it’s true that Burress made a terrible decision to bring a gun into a nightclub three years ago, there’s no reason for a player, someone who is part of the same fraternity, to mock someone for shooting themselves in the leg.
“He’s an idiot for that,” said Jets tight end Dustin Keller who had two touchdown catches in the game. “It’s obviously a rough situation that happened a long time ago. It’s not funny. It’s not comical at all. He should be embarrassed.”
The dropped passes also put a scarlet letter on Johnson, especially in the eyes of his teammates, coaches and Bills fans.
“Most definitely it hurt our team,” said Johnson. “it was very stupid of me going through that and I feel like I cost our team the win by doing that.”
Johnson received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and the Jets would score on their next drive. He certainly deserves a fine from the NFL office for his actions.
Here’s the bottom line for the Jets. They survived and won the game. But it wasn’t a completely successful day by any means. Both the Bengals and Broncos rallied to win their games and now one more week is off the schedule. Here’s the AFC Wild Card situation…
1. Steelers 8-3
2. Bengals 7-4
3. Broncos 6-5
4. Jets 6-5
The Jets are still one game back of the Bengals and they lose a head to head tie-breaker with the Broncos. I would think that running the table with five wins would get the Jets in, but the Broncos and Bengals aren’t going away.
Gang Green did get one little piece of help and it came from the Patriots. New England hammered Philadelphia — and it helps make the Jets’ December 18 contest in Philly that much more meaningless for the Eagles.
This is going to be an uphill climb that the Jets can only blame themselves for getting into. But first things first: They have to take care of business Sunday against the Redskins who saw their six game losing streak come to an end with a win over the Seahawks.
We’ll see how things unfold this week as we look on to see how “As The Jets Turn” continues.
Sanchez tied a career high with his 17th touchdown pass of the season, a second-quarter 18-yard strike to Keller. The Jets are 5-0 all-time when Sanchez throws at least three touchdown passes.
Remarkably, Sanchez was not sacked in a game for the first time this season.
Holmes hauled in the sixth game-winning touchdown in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime of his NFL career.
Burress registered his team-leading seventh touchdown catch of the season.
Patrick Turner made his first career start. He had one catch for 12 yards.
The defense recorded three sacks including two by former Bills linebacker Aaron Maybin who now has five on the season.
The Jets are now 5-1 at home this season and they are 9-4 at New Meadowlands/MetLife Stadium.
Despite losing the turnover battle 2-0, the Jets were victorious. It was the first time that happened this year and they are 4-12 under Rex Ryan when losing the turnover battle.
The Jets running game continues to get better. They rushed 23 times for 138 yards. Shonn Greene had 78 yards on 13 carries.
THE WEEK AHEAD
The Jets will review the tape of Sunday’s against the Bills today before getting Tuesday off. They return to practice on Wednesday to begin preparations for Sunday’s game against the Redskins at Fed Ex Field. This will be the Jets first visit to venue formerly known as Jack Kent Cooke Stadium since the Jets lost to the Redskins in the Thursday night season opener back in 2003.
That’s all for now! Check back on Friday for a Jets/Redskins preview!
How would you grade the Jets’ win over Buffalo? Let us know in the comments below…