New York Jets Steal Win in Denver on Late Pass Interference, Improve To 5-1
The Jets now own the best record in football as the only five-win team through six weeks. It was an extremely difficult game in a crazy environment, and the Jets won, although they didn't play great football.
Mark Sanchez finally turned the ball over, and the Jets made a lot of mistakes and committed a lot of penalties.
The game was close throughout and at the end, the Jets got the benefit of a huge defensive pass interference penalty on fourth down to get within a few yards of a game-winning touchdown.
The Jets now enter their bye week in first place, where they'll be heading into their game in two weeks against the Packers. Keep reading for a complete game breakdown, with opinion and analysis.
Game Recap: Jets 24, Broncos 20
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This was a game where both teams were off their game for the majority and kicked it into gear late. Neither team scored in the first quarter as the Jets haven't allowed a first-quarter point all season.
Both teams had two poor drives to start the game and Mark Sanchez looked terrible. Sanchez threw two interceptions in the game, snapping a string of 184 straight passes without one.
Before he threw the interceptions, the Broncos had a chance to intercept Sanchez multiple times. The Broncos fumbled the ball on their first drive as Knowshon Moreno gave it up to Darrelle Revis.
The big moment in the first quarter was the Broncos messing up a 28-yard field goal attempt. Snapper Britton Colquitt fumbled the ball and the Jets recovered the ball.
After having all sorts of trouble moving the ball early on, Sanchez put together a great drive heading into the second quarter. It ended on a 32-yard pass to Braylon Edwards into the end zone for a touchdown, giving the Jets a 7-0 lead.
The following drive for Denver was just as productive as they tied the game at 7-7. Tim Tebow stunned the Jets by playing a big part in the early going, running in a five-yard touchdown to immediately even the score. It was Tebow's first career touchdown.
At the end of the second, Broncos kicker Matt Prater launched a 59-yard field goal to send the game to halftime, 10-7 Denver. It was tied for the eighth-longest field goal in NFL history.
The Broncos got the ball to begin the third and Prater had an opportunity to kick another field goal. This time, he missed from only 49 yards out and the Jets were still within three.
The Jets tied the game at 10-10 on a Nick Folk 56-yard field goal, the longest in Jets history and the longest of his career. Folk continues to have a fantastic season, having kicked five field goals last week.
With about 1:30 to go in the third, the Broncos put together a five play, 37-yard drive to take a 17-10 lead. The touchdown from Orton to Darius Thomas looked questionable but the Jets had already lost a challenge and didn't want to lose another timeout.
The Jets did a good job of keeping the game within seven points until they finally tied the game at 17-17. LaDainian Tomlinson broke off a 20-yard run to tie the score with 8:30 to go.
Trailing 20-17 after a Broncos field goal, the Jets caught a huge break. On fourth-and-six, with one play to go in the game, Sanchez passed a ball 46 yards downfield to the Denver two-yard line.
Santonio Holmes didn't make the catch but a pass interference was enforced on Renaldo Hill as he grabbed the face mask. One play later, Tomlinson ran it in for a touchdown, giving the Jets a 24-20 lead.
The Jets would win it by that score as Kyle Orton on third-and-six fumbled the ball at the Jets 44 to end the game. The Jets are now 3-0 on the road this season.
Mark Sanchez Has Difficulty, But Is Clutch Again
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For a second straight week, Mark Sanchez was off his game and yet again he came through when it counted. Just like against the Vikings on Monday night, Sanchez had trouble throwing to receivers and was pressured a lot. He threw his first two interceptions of the season and could've thrown plenty more.
By the time the Jets fourth drive of the game came around, Sanchez started settling in and connecting with receivers. He threw a deep pass to Braylon Edwards in the end zone to put the Jets on top first.
Throughout the middle of the game, Sanchez made sure to at least keep the Jets within striking distance. He put them in position to attempt a long field goal, which Nick Folk kicked and helped tie the game in the fourth quarter with a handoff of to Tomlinson.
He didn't have a terrible game but could've been a little smarter at times. After a great three-week stretch, Sanchez has taken perhaps a tiny step back but nonetheless has been clutch.
Last week against the Vikings, Sanchez anchored a touchdown drive to extend a Jets lead late and today, he took a chance by throwing a ball downfield on the final chance of the game. If he hadn't thrown deep to Holmes, there wouldn't have been the possibility of a pass interference.
So, although Sanchez hasn't looked great over the past couple of weeks, he has still done the job when it has counted the most, winning both games.
Jets Have Trouble Running The Ball
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The Jets entered the game as the NFL's leading rushers. They were facing a Broncos team that was 25th against the run. None of those statistics mattered at the end, as the Jets couldn't move anywhere.
They did get two rushing touchdowns from Tomlinson and they did get a little better late, but it was a surprise to see a lack in rushing offense. Maybe it's a case of Tomlinson finally showing he's tired, but he did have a lot left in the fourth quarter.
The play that all but won the game for the Jets from two yards out wasn't a huge deal but he did have a 20-yard run to tie the game at 17-17.
His final numbers were 16 rushes for 55 yards, a step down from what he has done lately. He'll have a chance to recover for the long haul as the Jets get a bye next week.
Shonn Greene wasn't a major factor either, as he didn't score and only accumulated 43 yards. Part of why the running game wasn't so successful was because Sanchez passed a lot, especially late when the Jets needed to score quickly.
Credit also has to be given to the Broncos run defense, which stepped up to do a great job.
The Jets also factored in their Wildcat offense at times, with Brad Smith rushing for 18 yards. It was a weird situation, as although the Jets didn't run well enough, they scored 14 points off of it.
Jets Defense Doesn't Put Enough Pressure On Kyle Orton
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The defense for the Jets wasn't awful as it stopped Denver in crucial situations, but for a long period of time, they never pressured Kyle Orton. They allowed him to throw for over 200 yards and make big plays, a lot of them for first downs.
The most frustrating part about not stopping Orton was allowing him to break off rushing plays. Orton ran for 22 yards on his own, and he even converted on a third-and-11.
During the Broncos third quarter drive to go up 17-10, the Jets allowed Orton to convert on a third-and-five to Brandon Lloyd. Jets safety Jim Leonhard added 15 yards to the end of the play by getting called for an unnecessary roughness penalty.
That allowed Orton to throw a 17-yard touchdown pass, once again not being pressured by the Jets. It was a step back for the defense, who made Brett Favre uncomfortable all game virtually on Monday night.
The defense also let down on the Broncos final drive of the game. With Orton needing a touchdown, down four, Denver moved the ball to the Jets 48 on two plays.
The first one was a 12-yard pass to Jabar Gaffney on the right side, beating Leonhard. The next one was a 20-yard pass deep right to Lloyd as Antonio Cromartie got beat.
It wasn't until after that play that the Jets changed their defensive setup, spreading it out against Orton. That worked, as Orton threw an incompletion and then a four-yard pass, before fumbling to end the game.
In two weeks against the Packers, the Jets will have to use a defense similar to the one at the end of the game, against one of the best passers in football, Aaron Rogers.
Mark Sanchez Spreads It Out to All Receivers
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The Jets have the advantage of having four quality receivers on their team. That certainly helps a quarterback and Mark Sanchez is making sure every guy gets his opportunity. All four receivers had at least three catches, as Dustin Keller led the team in receiving yards with 75.
Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery all had four catches, with Edwards having the only touchdown.
When Holmes entered the equation last week, coming back from his season-opening four-game suspension, many wondered who Sanchez would throw to the most.
Head coach Rex Ryan said he'll throw to the open man, and Sanchez has done that so far. Besides a game this season where Keller went for 115 yards, Sanchez has made sure to pass to anyone open to help gain yardage.
Edwards has been a big surprise so far in that he isn't dropping the ball. The biggest issue for Edwards moving forward was holding on after the catch and he seems to have moved on from that this season. He caught a long touchdown pass and also a tougher first down catch as he's looked solid.
By spreading the ball to all receivers, Sanchez is making opposing defenses worry about whom to cover and when to do it.
Jets Lose In Every Category, Still Win The Game
Broncos corner back Syd'Quan Thompson intercepts Dustin Keller
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What was the most impressive thing about the Jets win over Denver? They got beat in every statistical category and probably should've lost the game. This wasn't a typical Jets game and their quarterback finally made some big mistakes.
When the Jets win the turnover battle, they're almost unbeatable but in this game, they lost it. The Jets turned it over three times, and the Broncos only twice.
Denver had more first downs, more third down conversions, more yards, less penalties, and had the ball longer. All of that led to a 24-20 loss for the Broncos in their own home.
Even more stunning, Denver out-rushed the Jets. That wasn't supposed to be the case, entering the game last in the league in rushing against the top-ranked Jets.
So what beating the Jets on paper, and still losing to a team that traveled cross-country after playing the Monday night game means, is that the Jets are just too good.
They lost to the best team in football and now the Jets can ride off into the bye as the team to beat for the Super Bowl.
Closing Opinion and What's Next For Jets
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After stealing a win in Denver and officially making themselves the best team in football with the best record, the Jets will get a well-deserved bye week.
It's a week in which the Jets have to get themselves healthy and look at some tape to get even better. Yes, they're 5-1 but there's still room for improvement and there are guys that are banged up. The biggest case of that is Darrelle Revis who played again today on an injured hamstring and could use a week off.
When they get back to practicing, they need to focus on how to get to the quarterback more and Sanchez needs to try to get back to his ways of the previous three weeks. But all in all, they're flying high with plenty of scheduling advantages.
On Halloween—Week 8—the Jets will return home to host the beat up Green Bay Packers. You want to win every game, but this will be a home game against a non-conference team so it's not a must, but the Jets should be able to handle them.
AFC East Standings After Week 6
NY Jets 5-1
New England 4-1