Championship caliber teams all have one thing in common: they find a way to win. While this seems elementary, most teams have a style that the game needs to take in order to win.
The preferred style for the Jets is obviously defensive oriented. They play field position, possess the ball, and defend, which is exactly how they started out during last night's game.
The Jets took the opening kickoff, and possessed the ball for almost 10 minutes, and took it for 72 yards on 10 plays. The drive culminated in a touchdown when Mark Sanchez hit Dustin Keller over the middle for the 24-yard scoring strike.
They increased their lead to 14-0 early in the second quarter on Sanchez's second passing touchdown. Once again, it was Sanchez to Keller, this time on a 12-yard pass. At that point, it was vintage Jets-football as the team had held Miami scoreless for the first quarter and the start of the second.
However, the tenor of the game changed when Miami methodically drove the ball down the field cutting the lead in half on Chad Henne's 3-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Fasano. Once again, the touchdown was set up by a penalty as Cromartie was flagged for pass interference on a ball thrown to Brian Hartline deep on the sideline.
For the first time this season, the Jets really missed Darrelle Revis. Chad Henne sliced up the Jets' secondary, particularly locking on to prime-target Brandon Marshall. Marshall hauled in 10 passes for 166 yards and a second-half touchdown that momentarily put Miami in the lead.
The Jets found themselves out of their comfort-zone and for the second straight year, in an absolute shootout with the Dolphins in a prime time network game. For the second straight year, Braylon Edwards stole the show. The embattled wide-out took a deep-out route 67 yards for a touchdown; showing the game-breaking talent that caused the Jets to keep in active and not firmly on the bench for his antics this week.
The teams traded field goals keeping the Jet lead at four points, but then Carpenter hit a 50-yard field goal to get the Dolphins within a single point as the game waned.
Ladainian Tomlinson however, showed his veteran leadership, taking the ball for four rush attempts on the Jets' last drive. He took one run for 18 yards down to the Miami five, and scored the touchdown on a 1-yard plunge that put the Jets up 31-23.
The waning moments were not without controversy and heartache. Sanchez nearly turned the ball over prior to the Jets last drive, but his pass attempt was ruled to have hit the ground after review. It would have set the Dolphins up with the ball inside the Jets' 10-yard line with an opportunity to punch it in for the lead.
With the Jets struggling on defense, they made the plays they had to make down the stretch to preserve the win. The Dolphins were methodically working their way down the field and were within hailing distance of a touchdown that would have put the Dolphins in position for a game-tying 2-point conversion when Drew Coleman came up with a game-clinching interception.
Once again, Mark Sanchez showed that he has the capability of being an elite quarterback. He isn't quite there yet, but if he continues to perform like this on a consistent basis, he will shoot up the charts of NFL QBSs. Sanchez completed 15 - 28 passes for 256 yards and 3 scores. Two of those scores went to Dustin Keller who is quickly becoming a top-flight tight end.
The significance of this game is two-fold. First, it moves the Jets to 2-1 and 2-0 in the AFC east. They already sport victories of the top two challengers to the Jets for the AFC East title; the Pats and the Dolphins.
Second, the Jets managed to win a game of which they did not control the pace. The Rex Ryan defense was passed all over, and lit up for 363 yards by a previously struggling Chad Henne. The Dolphins had the home field advantage and the chance to win, but the Jets managed to come out on top - the mark of a top-level team.