The New York Jets squeaked past the Denver Broncos in a Week 6 match-up Sunday. The biggest play of the game, wasn't actually a play at all, it was a 46-yard pass interference penalty drawn by Santonio Holmes on the Broncos 2-yard line.
Some have called the win lucky, others a miracle, but the common belief is that this was a game the Jets didn't have any business winning.
Mark Sanchez threw two interceptions, and had a few more close calls. In the NFL this is a game you get criticized for, but that criticism is possibly unfair.
In baseball, this was the type of game that earns heaps of praise. When a young pitcher is having a breakout dominant year, we send heaps of praise on him. When we are waiting for him to break out, the game we want to see is the game where he doesn't have his best stuff. The game where he is struggling to hit his mark, where one of his pitches just isn't working that day.
If he folds and collapses, he isn't there yet. If he overcomes it, and finds another way to get batters out, relying on different pitches or something else, that is when we know he could be great. When the pitcher finds a way to win when he doesn't have his "A" game.
In the NFL, quarterbacks aren't so lucky.
Mark Sanchez and the New York Jets did not have their "A" games Sunday. The Jets found a way to win, but instead of sending heaps of praise their way, it has instead been criticism for the Jets.
The Jets weren't stopping the run, the offense was playing brutally, turning the ball over three times. Coming into the game the Jets had turned it over just once this season. The media does agree the win is important, but many were criticizing the Jets for their poor performance.
From the other side of the picture, this was the game we needed to see. All season long we gloated about how well Sanchez has been playing this year. Everyone was talking about how he hadn't thrown an interception all season long.
The reality is, we knew Sanchez would not keep it up all season, a realistic goal for Sanchez would only throwing between seven and 10 interceptions this season, so they were going to come eventually.
Traveling to Denver, all the signs were there that Sanchez would come back to earth this week. The Jets never play well in Denver, and it is very difficult to adapt to the thin air and the altitude. When the game started it only got worse and CBS commentators Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf worked as hard as they can to provide the "announcers jinx" mentioning before every play that Sanchez had not thrown an INT.
They even provided a montage of near interceptions from Sanchez this season, it was only a matter of time, I even predicted he would throw four against Denver.
Sanchez would throw two interceptions and the offense would struggle. The Broncos ended up showing several different defensive fronts that they hadn't used all season, the Jets had never prepared for these fronts.
While Sanchez finally came back to earth this week, the Jets picked him up. They couldn't run the ball as well as they usually could but they showed just how good of a team they were. Their "A" game was not there this week, but they went out and found a way to win.
After the game Sanchez and Head Coach Rex Ryan both said that this was not a game the Jets would have won last season.
This win has given the Jets a better character and more confidence. They now know even if they don't have their best game on a given week, they are still capable of pulling out a win in unfavorable conditions.