Jets running back Bilal Powell vs. Jaguars
With the New York Jets' season hanging by a thread, Rex Ryan served notice to the naysayers that his team is alive and well, by going on the road and pounding the Jacksonville Jaguars into the ground on their home field, 17-10.
Jets offensive coordinator, Tony Sparano, took control of the contest by unleashing a fierce ground attack, primarily in the second half, that amassed 166 yards rushing against the overmatched Jaguars defense.
Bilal Powell (78 yards) and Shonn Greene (77 yards) combined for 39 rushes in executing the offensive wizard's plan. They accounted for both of the Jets' touchdowns, each scoring one via the rush.
Once the Jets running game got underway, Mark Sanchez did his job by sprinkling in enough passes to keep the Jaguars defense off balance. Sanchez finished the day completing 63.2 percent of his passes (12-for-19) for 111 yards without throwing an interception. Only nine of his throws came in the second half.
Sanchez's highlight came late in the fourth quarter, when completing a third down, 37-yard strike to tight end Jeff Cumberland. That play enabled the Jets to burn the clock by forcing the Jaguars to use all of their remaining timeouts.
Once Powell and Greene began dominating the clock in the second half on the ground, the fresh Jets defense did their part by blanketing the Jaguars offense. In the third quarter, the Jaguars were held to a nearly invisible six yards.
The victory improved the Jets record to 6-7. Coupled with losses by the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals, the Jets have pulled within one game in the standings of those two leaders for the AFC playoff wild card seeds.
Before the game, Ryan elected not to activate backup quarterback Greg McElroy, although he proved to be a capable fill-in for Sanchez last weekend. Ryan's decision worked like a charm—removing any doubt about who would be quarterbacking the entire contest.
Despite his limited number of throws, Sanchez rewarded Ryan by coming up big when it counted most (the 37-yard pass to Cumberland) and by not turning the ball over through the air.
Aside from a few camera shots of Tim Tebow on the sidelines, he never got off the bench and was (thankfully) a complete non-factor.
Next up for the Jets on their playoff drive is the (4-9) Tennessee Titans. The game is scheduled to be on Monday Night Football, Dec. 17.