In what has been a true roller-coaster ride of a season, the New York Jets added another twist in their story on Sunday when they handed the Indianapolis Colts their first loss of the season. Not only did they snap the longest current undefeated streak in the NFL, but they also set up a playoff scenario this Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals.
It's funny to think a team who last week collapsed on the last drive now controls their own playoff fate—in the last game ever at Giants Stadium, no less.
The Colts would get on the scoreboard first with a Joseph Addai 21-yard TD run on their second drive of the game. Adam Vinatieri would have his extra point blocked, making the score 6-0. He would, however, hit a 22-yard FG to extend the lead to 9-0 capping off a 10 play drive.
It would take the Jets two drives to finally get in on the scoring with Jay Feely, who, after having a disastrous game against Atlanta, got the team within a TD with a 35-yard FG. Neither team would muster up any more offense for the half as they headed for the locker rooms.
Throughout the season, the Jets have shown they preform better in the second half. Sunday was no different. Brad Smith returned the second half kick-off for 106 yards (an all-time team record) to quickly put the Jets ahead, 10-9. It would be the first kick return of the season. Suddenly, the Jets showed signs of life.
The lead wouldn't last long as Peyton Manning led his Colts 81 yards down the field before Donald Brown rushed in for a one-yard TD. The Colts wouldn't convert on their two-point conversion, and the score would be 15-10. Much speculation surrounded head coach Jim Caldwell's decision to not allow Manning to play the entire game, with the Colts already earning a first-round bye.
Manning would make way for Curtis Painter who made his NFL debut. On his first drive, the Colts were forced to punt. His next drive was no better, getting hit by Calvin Pace fumbling the football. It would be recovered by Marques Douglas, who shuffled his way into the end zone.
Mark Sanchez would find Dustin Keller, and the Jets completed their first two-point conversion of the season. The conversion would put them up 18-15 heading into the fourth quarter. Painter would continue to struggle, earning no first downs and forcing his punting unit onto the field repeatedly.
Most of the regular starters were also replaced by the back-ups, allowing the Jets to control the tempo throughout the latter stages of the game. Despite being sacked twice, Sanchez would come through when needed most, going 12-of-19 for 109 yards. He would nail another two-point conversion, this time to Braylon Edwards, following a Thomas Jones one-yard TD rush to give the Jets a commanding 29-15 lead.
Dwight Lowery would intercept Painter in the Colts' second to last drive, capping off a miserable debut for the rookie who was basically thrown to the lions' den that is the New York Jets' defense. As time would expire, the reality set in for both teams that the Colts would not complete the perfect season sought, and that the Jets' once life-supported season was now in their own hands.
This Sunday's matchup against the Bengals will undoubtedly be the biggest game of the year for the Jets, and oddly enough, it is against a team they would face in the first round, if they can beat them. The stage will be set as the Jets look to close out their season and stadium on a high note, with the nation watching (the flex schedule has moved the game to prime time on NBC).
Only time will tell which version of the 2009 Jets will appear on the field come Sunday.
The Good: Sanchez and the offense played exceptionally well. Sanchez had no interceptions, and had two two-point conversions in crucial spots.
The Bad: Nothing really sticks out this game, as both sides of the ball were played magnificently.
The Ugly: The Colts fans booing their team. Really? You are very possibly Super Bowl-bound and you boo for not having a undefeated season? boo hoo.
Game Ball: Come on down Thomas Jones—105 yards and a TD makes you this week's winner.