Two weeks ago the New York Jets were all but dead. The fans, yours truly, and even Head Coach Rex Ryan admitted defeat for what was thought to be the teams' post-season aspirations. However, due to some unlikely situations, the team found itself needing just one win in its stadium's finale to punch its ticket to the playoffs for the first time in three years.
In a season with more twists than a primetime crime show, the fear of the "same old Jets" loomed prior to kick-off. However, those "same old Jets" were a no-show and what came onto the field, for possibly the last time at the Meadowlands, was a team determined to not go quietly, a team that wanted to seize its last chance, a team with an agenda of finishing it off just how it started...
Despite temperatures mimicking those seen at Lambeau Field, a capacity crowd would be witness to its team closing out the stadium that never quite felt like home, but in much grander fashion than its co-tenants, whose name is on the outside walls.
The Jets would waste no time getting on the board in their opening drive thanks to a huge run by WR Brad Smith, who rushed the ball from the tiger-cat formation for 57 yards before being brought down at the one. RB Thomas Jones would finish Smith's effort, crossing the plane to put the Jets up 7-0 (with Jay Feely's extra point, naturally). Seven plays, seven points.
The Bengals would quickly go three-and-out, allowing Mark Sanchez and the offense to continue their run-orientated attack. Unlike their first drive, which only ate up four minutes, the second drive went into the second quarter, mainly due to the rush attack, with 15 of its 21 plays on the ground.
Sanchez stuck to simple, short passes, unlike against Atlanta in similarly cold conditions, relying heavily on the backs and receivers-turned-backs. The drive would end with a Feely 20-yard FG to extend the lead to 10-0. The Bengals would go three-and-out again, and would not get a first down on their own for the entire first half.
Sanchez and the offense continued the same formula, and Smith again would get involved in the scoring, this time rushing in for a 32-yard TD to make the score 17-0. Jerricho Cotchery would get in on the act on the following drive by also running one in, to make the score 24-0. Feely would add another FG as time expired to make it a resounding 27-0 lead.
The Jets would take the lead into the half with the most momentum they've had all season, completely shutting down their opponent. Cincinnati had nothing going for it as Carson Palmer could not find one receiver to even move forward. He would finish one of 11 for zero yards and a QB rating of 1.7.
The Bengals had a minuscule 5:10 time of possession, compared to the Jets 24:50, not to mention a whopping seven yards of total offense, compared to the Jets 250 in the first half. The Jets were also extremely efficient on third-down conversions, converting on eight of 10.
The second half continued with the Bengals punting on their first drive and the Jets countering with another Feely FG, this one from 40 yards, to increase the lead to 30-0. The Bengals would eventually have drives longer than two minutes, but could find no way to even attempt a field goal to avoid a shutout.
Their longest drive of the game, 28 yards, was foiled when back-up QB J.T. O'Sullivan fumbled the ball after being hit by Jim Leonard, allowing Kerry Rhodes to recover for 44 yards. The Jets would use their position to get the final score of the night with Thomas Jones getting his second TD, extending the lead to 37-0. Jones would finish with two TDs and 78 yards on 26 carries.
The celebration was marked by fireworks and confetti raining onto the field, as the team did a victory lap in its last game in a place they've called home for 25 years. Those who remained got to watch a much deserved win as Ryan couldn't escape a Gatorade shower that has not been seen on the Jets sideline in years.
The victory clinched the fifth seed in the AFC and gives the Jets a rematch with the Bengals on Saturday in Cincinnati. With the Bengals resting some of their important starters for this game, it would be safe to assume they might actually score some points Wild Card Weekend.
All of the pressure will be on Cincinnati to respond after being shutout for the first time since 2001, and they will have to put in a full effort if they want to stop this Jets team with nothing to lose.
As in Mortal Kombat (Sega), when you defeat your opponent untouched it is a "flawless victory". This couldn't be more true of Sunday's game.
Nothing this week, everything went the Jets' way.
The booing of Laveranues Coles was completely unnecessary. So the guy left for more money...big deal.
Brad Smith has slowly become the Jets best weapon and proved it Sunday with 92 yards and a TD.