The New York Jets gave everything they had, but ultimately lost to the Houston Texans Monday night.
With the score 23-17 late in the fourth quarter, New York had one last chance to take the lead from its undefeated counterpart. Instead, Mark Sanchez tossed his second interception of the night, with Kareem Jackson coming up with the clincher for Houston.
The game started as most expected, with the Texans shredding the Jets like they weren't even on the field. Matt Schaub hit a wide open Owen Daniels on a 34-yard strike to give the Texans a 7-0 lead, and I mean wide open:
Judging by that first possession, it appeared the Texans were in for an easy night, but the Jets had other ideas.
Antonio Cromartie intercepted a Schaub pass with about six minutes remaining in the first frame to put his team near midfield. Shortly after, Mark Sanchez found tight end Jeff Cumberland for a 27-yard touchdown pass. Not only did Cumberland run the seam and make a tremendous catch, but Sanchez delivered a pinpoint pass.
With the score 7-7 entering the second quarter, the Texans would respond. Arian Foster ran in a 13-yard score with 11:18 remaining in the half, followed by a Shayne Graham field goal at the end of the quarter to make it 17-7 Houston heading into halftime.
When Graham made the score 20-7 with another field goal to start the third quarter, writing the Jets off appeared easy, but they refused to be denied.
Mainly because of Joe McKnight's 100-yard kickoff return with 4:51 remaining in the third quarter. The scoring went mostly stagnant from there, however, with the teams trading field goals to make the score 23-17 Houston.
That's how it would remain for the rest of the game, with Houston's defense standing tall and the Jets offense trying to break through for the decisive score.
Sanchez, outside of his pass to Cumberland, wasn't spectacular, but we've seen much worse from the fifth-year quarterback. He finished 14-of-31 for 230 yards and one touchdown on the night. He had two picks, but the second one wasn't his fault.
He only received 69 yards of support from the Jets ground game, making his job that much more difficult. And despite Sanchez's mediocre play, it never really became Tebow Time like some anticipated. Tebow did throw one pass, but failed to make an impact outside of converting a first down on a fake punt in the first half. The long pass was dropped by Jason Hill, negating an exciting Tebow moment.
Houston struggled through the game at times, but Arian Foster ensured that his team would come out on top. He became the third-fastest running back in NFL history to eclipse 5,000 yards from scrimmage, running for 152 yards on 22 carries and one touchdown on the night.
Schaub could have been worse, but he still played below expectations. Finishing 13-of-28 for 209 yards is fine, but the Texans' passing attack couldn't break through for much of the game. Houston had its chances to pull away, but the Jets showed more fight than they had in recent weeks. Schaub's inconsistency didn't help, but the Jets' intensity was the main culprit.
Defensively, the Texans were able to make big plays when it mattered most, sacking Sanchez three times and picking him off twice in a close game.
The Texans D was led, once again, by J.J. Watt. The defensive end had one sack, three tipped passes and six tackles overall.