New York Jets: Five Minutes vs. Lions Save Rex Ryan From Critics—For Now

Jayson LoveCorrespondent INovember 9, 2010

DETROIT - NOVEMBER 07: Head coach Rex Ryan and Josh Mauga #53 of the New York Jets celebrate a 23-20 ovetime win over the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on November 7, 2010 in Detroit, Michigan. The Jets defeated the Lions 23-20 in overtime.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images

For one week and three-quarters of football, you saw the downside of having Rex Ryan as a head coach. 

On HBO's Hard Knocks, Ryan made a speech about the possibility of getting your opponent's "best shot" week in and week out.  The perception was that, having a target on your back due to a loquacious head coach, you couldn't sneak up on opponents. 

Despite acknowledging this, Ryan said that he didn't care.  He believed that his opponents' best shot wasn't good enough to beat his team.

Well, for one week and three quarters of football, Ryan was dead wrong.

The signs were there.  In Denver, before the bye week, the Jets needed a 4th down, pass interference call to salvage a late comeback win.

That same Denver team rolled over and died when the Raiders came to town the following week, surrendering 59 points in a loss. 

Then, the Jets played Green Bay, who displayed top-level defense and shut the Jets out.  Coming off a loss, the pressure, mostly fueled by the head coach, fell squarely on the shoulders of Mark Sanchez and the rest of the New York Jets.

The Lions' defense held the Jets to just ten points into the fourth quarter, and just converted a third and goal when Nate Burleson caught a touchdown pass behind Drew Coleman.

Prior to the TD, Rex Ryan's vaunted defense looked disorganized, forced to take two timeouts to avoid penalties for having 12 men on the field.

With less than five minutes showing on the clock, the Jets found themselves down 10 with the ball. 

Sanchez had struggled to get anything going against a Lions team that came into the game with a 2-5 record.

Detroit had allowed 24 or more points to five of the seven opponents they had faced, but on this day, they had to that point shut down the Jets and their A-list offense.

Tomlinson was struggling to find holes in the run game.  Shonn Greene had struggled as well.  They managed 110 yards on the ground as a team, 38 under their season average.

To that point, the Jets had managed just 265 yards of total offense, 73 of which came on one play, a bomb to Braylon Edwards for a touchdown in the first half.

You could feel the headlines coming.  "Same old Jets", or something related to a "Big Mouthed" Rex Ryan.  Super Bowl talk would be replaced with, "Will this team even make the playoffs"? 

Mark Sanchez, however, had other ideas.  The second-year signal caller saved his offensive coordinator and head coach from the critics and that negative talk—at least for one week.

Forced to go to the no-huddle, Sanchez drove his team 56 yards in just 1:40, including a beautiful deep post to the forgotten man Dustin Keller that put the ball on the one yard-line.  Sanchez then called his own number getting into the end-zone.

Folk's PAT got the Jets within 3. 

With 2:37 on the clock, and just the one timeout, the Jets decided to kick it deep. Amazingly, just after the two-minute warning, the Lions decided to pass on third down.  Drew Stanton, who was filling in for injured starter Matthew Stafford, misfired on a short screen attempt to Jerome Felton.  The incompletion stopped the clock with 1:40 showing.

With no timeouts, Sanchez ran the no-huddle again.  He drove the team down the field, mainly by using LaDainian Tomlinson as an outlet receiver.  When Tomlinson took one pass up the sideline into Detroit territory, a late hit added 15 yards to the run and set the Jets up to complete the comeback.

Nick Folk faded the ball through the uprights, tying the game as regulation expired.

The Jets won the overtime toss and Sanchez convinced the team to run no-huddle again.

A deep post to Santonio Holmes turned into a 52-yard play when Holmes broke a tackle at midfield.  Two plays later, Folk hit the game-winning field goal (although Folk didn't know it at the time), and the Jets snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.

The Jets took the Lions' best shot and managed to win.  It will be interesting to see how Detroit and the Jets respond next week. 

Are the Lions an up and coming football team, or was this "their best shot"?  Of course, the Lions will look different with Stanton under center.

The Jets, however, have their full team.  Can they continue to take these kinds of shots from every team in the league?  Rex Ryan asked to be the targeted team on Hard Knocks, and now he must deal with it.