As a fan, you hate to hear a player or coach say they are satisfied after a loss. Let's just leave it at this loss was less stinging than the last one for New York Jets fans.
Mark Sanchez improved his play, Tim Tebow played perhaps his best game as a Jet, Rex Ryan coached an aggressive and borderline insane game and the team gave the Houston Texans everything they had in a 23-17 loss on Monday Night Football.
There were a number of positives to take from this game, including stellar performances by Jeremy Kerley, Joe McKnight and Antonio Cromartie. However, negatives like the porous run defense and no pass rush remain.
The Jets did better with their third-down defense, allowing the Texans to convert just six of 15 attempts, including none in the fourth quarter.
Unlike last week's 34-0 drubbing at the hands of the 49ers, the Jets didn't tire in the fourth quarter. A loss is a loss, but at least this loss didn't have an "end of the world" feeling to it.
Champ of the Game: Joe McKnight
McKnight's 100-yard kick return could not have come at a more opportune time. A Shayne Graham field goal extended the Texans' lead to 20-7 and there was a feeling that the game could start getting away from the Jets. However, McKnight's kick return not only gave the Jets life, but it also energized what was a quite MetLife Stadium crowd.
Chump of the Game: Jason Hill
Unlike last week, there weren't that many poor individual performances to choose from. To say that Hill struggled in his Jets' debut is an understatement. On the first pass thrown his way, Hill had beat his man down the field, but dropped an easy bomb thrown by Tim Tebow.
Hill later had a false start penalty and then hampered the team further while not even on the field. About half way through the fourth quarter, the Jets had to burn a valuable time out because Hill wasn't on the field when he was supposed to be.
There are quality control coaches who are supposed to monitor those things, so they might take some of the blame too. The confusion came when Hill had to slide up the depth chart to replace an injured Clyde Gates.
Defensive Star: Antonio Cromartie
Cromartie could have easily been the "Champ of the Game" as he played one of his best games as a Jet. Simply put, Cromartie played like the elite cornerback that he thinks he is. He held Andre Johnson to just one catch all night and came up with a huge early interception.
Offensive Star: Jeremy Kerley
Kerley provided the Jets with some key plays down the field. He finished with five catches for 94 yards and played a game that was similar to the type of games Santonio Holmes has when he's at his best. Kerley's 36-yard reception help set up Nick Folk's field goal in the fourth quarter to get the Jets to within one score.
Special Teams Star: Robert Malone
Malone had six punts for an average of 44.2 yards and continues to do a fine job in place of the long-forgotten T.J. Conley. Malone's average was brought down by a 25-yard pooch-punt and a 34-yard half-shank in the first quarter. He redeemed himself with punts of 58 and 61 yards later in the game and nailed two punts inside the 20.
Nick Mangold had his ankle rolled up underneath him. He had to be carted from the field. It didn't look good to say the least and his return was originally ruled as "questionable." However, in a rare stroke of good luck with an injury this year, Mangold returned to action in the fourth quarter.
Clyde Gates suffered a shoulder injury and did not return.
Bryan Thomas again tweaked his hamstring, which has been giving him problems all year.
Kenrick Ellis suffered a late knee injury that was announced as an MCL sprain on Tuesday.
Josh Mauga was seen with his arm in a sling.
Turning Point of the Game
The game turned in a number of places, mostly on tipped passes by J.J. Watt, but nothing changed the momentum more than the missed opportunity on the onside kick the Jets attempted after McKnight's touchdown.
It was a gutsy call, that some today are calling stupid, but the fact is that it should have worked. McKnight's touchdown gave the Jets a ton of momentum and if they could have come down with the ball there, it could have boosted them forward to the win.
Instead, Chaz Schilens dropped a ball that was blatantly right in his hand and was unable to recover. The defense was able to hold the Texans to a field goal, but the missed opportunity resonated for the remainder of the game.
The Rookie Report
Quinton Coples was quiet once again, although he did bust up an attempted screen play by the Texans.
Demario Davis helped hold the Texans to a field goal when his penetration forced Arian Foster inside on a 3rd-and-goal. David Harris cleaned up the tackle.
Josh Bush didn't register on the stat sheet, but he did see some playing time in the secondary.
Best Coaching Move
One of the complaints of the failed Tebow package has been that the Jets refuse to let him pass. That changed early when Tony Sparano finally called for him to take a deep shot. It was a perfect play call and an even better pass. The only problem was that Jason Hill dropped it.
If the play hit, as it should have, it would have been a huge gainer for the Jets and could have shifted the early momentum their way. At least it now showed other teams that the Jets are willing to let Tebow take a shot down field, and will hopefully release some of the pressure Tebow faces at the line.
NFL Personality Tweet of the Game: Ray Lucas
In the middle of the fourth quarter.
NY Jets showing up tonight!!!!!
— Ray Lucas (@RayLucas06) October 9, 2012
Great Quote From the Booth
"I will be shocked if the Jets don;t come out here tonight emotional and play their best football. If I'm the Houston Texans, I'm gonna look for anything tonight. Trick play in the kicking game, gadget play on offense, blitzes you've never seen before and you might even see Tim Tebow play quarterback tonight," -- Jon Gruden on the ESPN pregame show.
The Refs Blew This One
This was a very clean game by the referees, with the only complaints coming on extreme nitpicking. There were no challenges by either coach, nor should there have been.
The only play there was an obvious gripe on was on Jeff Cumberland's first drop, pass interference or at least an illegal contact should have been called. It wasn't a major play in the game by any means though.
The Jets had just five penalties while the Texans had seven.
Mark Sanchez Instant Impact Approval Rating
Week 4: 24.3
Week 3: 66.7
Week 2: 72.4
Week 1: 98.9
Did You Notice?
For the first time this season, the Jets won the coin toss and deferred to the Texans. Lex Hilliard made the tackle on the opening kickoff, his first play as a Jet.
On the third down conversion just before Owen Daniels' touchdown, Calvin Pace was totally lost as Kevin Walter crossed behind him. While Walter was making the catch just behind Pace, he had his head turned around looking into the backfield for a ball that was already thrown.
LaRon Landry bit badly on a play fake, allowing Daniels to complete the deep-post wide open for the score.
Quinton Coples burst through the line on an attempted first-quarter screen pass by Schaub. Coples presence threw the timing off and forced a Texans punt.
On the interception by Brice McCain, Vladimir Ducasse drew blocking duties on J.J. Watt. Ducasse wasn't even able to knock Watt off balance, allowing him to tip the ball into McCain's hands.
Watt originally lined up on the left side of the Texans' defensive line on McCain's interception. As Sanchez was calling the play, Watt switched spots with Tim Jamison.
Bilal Powell was actually laying on the ground after throwing a cut block as McCain intercepted the pass. He got up and chased him down, 85 yards to keep him out of the end zone. Kerley covered over 90 yards to assist on the tackle.
Konrad Reuland and Hilliard threw key blocks to help Tebow convert his fake punt.
On Foster's 21-yard run the play prior to his second-quarter touchdown, LaRon Landry lined up at the line of scrimmage and was blocked a clear 10-yards down field by Ryan Harris. Pace and Bart Scott were blocked out of the play as well.
On the play that injured Brian Cushing, Matt Slauson whiffed on his initial block of the Texans' linebacker. That caused him to have to regroup, turn around and dive at his knees to cut him out of the play.
Reuland, Powell and Nick Bellore all threw key blocks on McKnight's kickoff return.
Hilliard and former Texan Jon Grimes were also in the vicinity of Schilens when he dropped the onsides kick.
On 3rd-and-goal from the six at the end of the third quarter, the Texans tried to run the ball into the end zone with Foster. Demario Davis forced the run back inside with good outside containment and Harris came in to make the stop to force a field goal.
Brandon Moore threw a devastating block to allow Tebow's 13-yard run, but then missed a block on the next play that resulted in no gain.
Kerley, Sanchez and McKnight could be seen yelling to the sidelines that the Jets had only 10 men on the field as they lined up for a first-down play with 7:42 left. Tony Sparano called a time out when he saw it. Jason Hill was the player missing. He was confused about the package while playing as Clyde Gates' fill-in.
The Texans were 0-for-3 on third-down conversions in the fourth quarter.
What This Means Now
The loss to the Texans was an expected outcome, but the Jets' performance means they aren't going to roll over on the season. Ryan's aggressive game management sent a clear message to players that the coaching staff was going to fight, and the team better follow.
The Jets have won the games they were favored in and lost the ones in which they weren't. If that form holds (which it never seems to do) the Jets will find themselves in the playoff race until the end. Even at 2-3, they are just one game behind the Patriots in the AFC East and a half-game behind the Steelers and Colts for a Wild Card spot.
The hardest part of the schedule is now over, with two games against the Patriots still looming as the only games the Jets still figure to be decided underdogs. The Jets can't slack off in games that they will be favored in however.
The Jets play their third straight home game with a 1:00 p.m. game against the Colts. The Colts will be brimming with confidence after their huge upset over the Packers. At 2-2, the Colts are already two games ahead of the Jaguars and Titans in their division and could be a factor in the Wild Card race down the line.
Look for RC Cos' Instant Impact immediately following every Jets game this year. For even more analysis and for all Jets' breaking news, follow the B/R Jets Report on Twitter: @BR Jets_Report.
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