By Steve Silverman
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The Jets need to play their best game of the season in Seattle tomorrow.
Many fans have already written this team off after the first half of the season, and their 3-5 record couldn’t be more unimpressive.
But the inconsistency and poor play of the first half can give way to a memorable second-half run. Rex Ryan can look at the last five weeks of the season and come to the conclusion that his troubled team can win all five of those games (vs. Arizona, at Jacksonville, at Tennessee, vs. San Diego and at Buffalo).
A five-game winning streak to end the regular season is usually a good thing in the NFL. But if the Jets don’t beat Seattle, they will fall to 3-6 and a winning streak at the end of the year will only serve to dress up their record.
A road win over the Seahawks, which is a lot to ask, will give them a chance to climb to .500 against the Rams in Week 11. That’s the jumping off point for a playoff run.
But here’s the difficulty in playing the Seahawks. They are undefeated at home in a venue that may be the most difficult for any visitor to play in. Qwest Field reaches a decibel level that few outdoor stadiums can and the noise level there is almost reminiscent to the old Kingdome.
The Seahawks called that stadium home from their birth in 1976 until that stadium closed in 1999. The Seahawks were none too kind to the Jets in those early years. Seattle won its first seven meetings with the Jets before they finally got a victory over the expansion team.
The Seahawks are 5-4 (no bye week yet), but they are 4-0 in Seattle. One of those victories was the 14-12 Monday Night win over the Packers, which was probably the most important game of the season.
You’ll remember that the game ended on Russell Wilson’s toss into the endzone that the Packers’ M.D. Jennings caught for what should have been a game-ending interception and a Green Bay victory. However, when the Seahawks’ Golden Tate put both of his hands on the ball, the replacement referees took that to mean simultaneous possession and a game-winning touchdown for Seattle.
The call was so egregious that it ended the NFL’s lockout of its officials and the “regulars” came back after that game.
Seattle has played very well at home – with the exception of that game – as their defense has been punishing and Wilson is another one of those rookie quarterbacks who have been able to step in and contribute.
Wilson does not have the same kind of passing ability as super rookies Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III, and he’s probably not even as accurate as Miami’s Ryan Tannehill.
But Wilson has that aggressive, warrior mentality that allows him to buy time with his feet and then get the ball to open receivers or run for a first down.
He’s smart and confident, even if he is not the purest passing prospect. He’s got Marshawn Lynch in the backfield and wide receiver Sidney Rice as an underrated downfield threat.
The offense has been decent at home and that means that Rex Ryan must start off the game with a nasty attitude and must try to punish Lynch, Rice and Wilson on every snap.
This game is the season and if the Jets look at it any other way, they are going to get crushed. That means linebacker David Harris, strong safety Yeremiah Bell and cornerback Antonio Cromartie must be at their best.
The Jets have not been dominant defensively to this point. They have the fourth-rated pass defense, but the run defense has been a major disappointment and rates 28th, allowing 141.4 yards per game.
That can’t happen against the Seahawks. They must be aggressive, sure-tackling and force turnovers.
The other side of the equation is Mark Sanchez. He must do his best professional quarterback impression and avoid turnovers and missed opportunities.
The Jets need to get Shonn Greene going again. They can look at the film and see that Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson gained 182 yards on the ground against the Seahawks and find some reason for hope.
Greene is going to have to convince himself that he is Peterson – at least this week.
This is the most important game of the year. A win will create momentum. A loss means another year of heartbreak.
What are you predictions for the Jets game against the Seahawks? Share your thoughts below.