Schwartz: Jets’ Destiny In Hand
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By Peter Schwartz
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Sometimes in life, things come in threes.
Three weeks ago, the Jets were reeling after Tim Tebow’s last minute heroics in Denver. Gang Green was 5-5 and their playoff lives were on life support.
Three weeks later — make that three wins later — the Jets are 8-5 after a 37-10 thumping of the Chiefs. Thanks to losses by the Titans, Bengals and Raiders, the Jets find themselves in sole possession of the second AFC wild card spot.
Destiny is in the hands of the Jets.
“It feels good,” said left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson. “But we know what we have to keep on winning. We have three good opponents coming up and our focus is 100 percent on Philly.”
With wins in their final three games over the Eagles, Giants and Dolphins, the Jets will be in the playoffs for a third straight season.
The Jets took care of their own business with a dominant performance against a team that didn’t belong on the same field. Gang Green made a statement with their solid effort. If they find their way into the tournament, they can make some noise like they’ve done in each of the last two seasons.
Over the last three seasons, the Jets have developed a knack for winning games at the most important time of the season.
“I think we understand the importance of these games late in the season,” said Mark Sanchez, who had two touchdown passes and two touchdown runs, a feat that had never been done by a quarterback in Jets history.
“We understand the kind of wild card race we’re in, so I think we just find a way to click and that’s important late in the season.”
The Jets running game continues to get better. Shonn Greene rushed for 129 yards and a touchdown including a 31-yard dash on the Jets first play from scrimmage.
“I think we did a good job of executing all of the plays,” said Greene. “The offensive line did a great job. The wide receivers blocked downfield on the perimeter so it was a great game.”
There was an unfortunate development in the game as safety Jim Leonhard suffered a right knee injury in the second quarter and did not return.
“Hopefully, it’s not that bad,” said head coach Rex Ryan. “It’s never good when you need help coming off. We’ll see what it is.”
According to the Daily News, Leonhard is out for the season. If that’s true, it would be Leonhard’s second straight season-ending injury. It’s a huge blow of the Jets if they lose Leonhard, not only because of what he means to the secondary, but he also had assumed the punt return duties. Those now belong, once again, to rookie Jeremy Kerley.
The Jets have cornered the market in overcoming adversity. They find a way to rise to the occasion when things look most bleak.
Just like they did in 2009, the Jets have found a way to stay alive in the playoff race. Gang Green has never been to the playoffs three years in a row. They are now on a mission to reaffirm that this is a new era in Jets football.
They are the “Same Old Jets.” These Jets have a habit of finding their way into the postseason.
THE PLAYOFF PICTURE
With three weeks to go, nothing has been clinched, but the Jets have put themselves in a position that seemed unlikely a few weeks ago. They have playoff destiny in their hands thanks to losses by the Titans, Bengals and Raiders.
AFC Wild Card Standings
1. Steelers 10-3
2. Jets 8-5
Bengals, Raiders and Titans are 7-6
The Jets had an interesting start to the game. They won the toss and took the ball, but they had to call a timeout before they ran a play. The Jets didn’t have the right personnel in the game, so with the play clock running down, Sanchez had to call timeout six seconds into the contest.
Things did get better on their first offensive play as Greene exploded for 31 yards.
The 28 points scored by the Jets in the first half were the most since they totaled 35 points vs. Arizona in 2008. With 34 points in a win last week against the Redskins and 37 points against the Chiefs, the Jets have scored 30 or more points in consecutive weeks for the first time since the final two games of the 2010 season when they registered 34 in a loss at Chicago and 38 points in a win against the Bills.
Jets inactives included Joe McKnight (elbow) and Mike DeVito (knee). Ropati Pitoitua started in place of DeVito at DT. Jamaal Westerman started in place of Garrett McIntyre at OLB.
Rookie DT Kenrick Ellis was a healthy scratch. Ryan has said during the week that Ellis didn’t play well last week against the Redskins. With Ellis out, Martin (MTV) Tevaseu saw some playing time.
The Jets captains were DT Marcus Dixon, LB Josh Mauga, DL Martin Tevaseu, RB LaDainian Tomlinson, S Kyle Wilson
OL Vladimir Ducasse made his first career NFL start as he was in an offensive set on the first drive that included an extra lineman.
The Jets are now 6-1 this season at MetLife Stadium.
The victory was the Jets third straight, the second time this season the team has won at least three consecutive games. In each of coach Ryan’s first three seasons as head coach, the Jets have registered at least two streaks of three consecutive wins.
2009: Weeks 1-3 (3 games) and Weeks 12-14 (3 games)
2010: Weeks 2-6 (5 games), Weeks 9-12 (4 games)
2011: Weeks 6-9 (3 games), Weeks 12-14 (3 games)
Despite missing the entire week of practice to rest his hip, Jets right guard Brandon Moore made his 118th consecutive start. Moore also played in his 125th career game tying him with Guy Bingham for 7th place on the Jets all time list for games played by an offensive lineman.
Late in the third quarter, with T.J. Conley getting set to punt for the Jets, the press box announcer made a Giant mistake. He said “Weatherford in punt formation for the Jets.”
THE WEEK AHEAD
After reviewing film of the win over the Chiefs, the Jets will take Tuesday off. They return to the practice field on Wednesday to begin preparations for Sunday’s game against the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field.
The Eagles are coming off a 26-10 win over the Dolphins. The Jets are 0-8 all-time against the Eagles.
That’s all for now! Check back on Friday for a Jets/Eagles preview!
How would you grade the Jets’ win? Let us know in the comments below…