Rex Ryan and the New York Jets Continue Their Road Dominance and Win Buddy Bowl
That's all I could say when it was all said and done. The Jets needed every minute of overtime to secure the victory, but they fought for it and got the win with less than 30 seconds remaining in the overtime period to beat Eric Mangini, Rob Ryan and the resurgent Cleveland Browns.
Santonio Holmes scored the game winner—his first touchdown as a New York Jet—on a 37-yard catch-and-run with 16 seconds remaining in the game. Holmes caught a quick slant, made his man miss, then juked past two defenders and walked in for the touchdown.
The Jets became the first team in NFL history to win consecutive overtime games on the road, and they've now won eight consecutive regular season road games dating back to last season. Including the playoffs, they've won 10 of their last 11 on the road. They have an NFL-best 5-0 record on the road this season.
Both defenses played fantastic in the second half, which began with the Jets staging a 10-minute drive to begin the third quarter that ended in one of Nick Folk's three missed field goals.
Along the way, Mark Sanchez played one of the best games of his career, shaking off a calf injury to throw for 299 yards and two touchdowns, while running in for a touchdown on a quarterback draw.
Sanchez gave Jets fans a scare after going down awkwardly after a sack and got treatment as the Jets punted and played defense. When the Jets offense came back out, Sanchez trotted out, determined not to miss a snap.
His first series after the injury was shaky, but other than that, Sanchez was sensational. Time-after-time, the Browns would get pressure, and there would be Sanchez, breaking tackles and keeping plays alive.
Watching the second-year signal-caller evade pressure and make plays out of the pocket reminded me of a young Ben Roethlisberger, who won a Super Bowl in his second season as a starter at age 23.
The Jets know that to be a Super team, they'll have to grind out these tough road games against inspired competition all year long, and a little bit of luck never hurt anyone either.
The Jets could have very easily lost this game. On one of the biggest plays of the game, cornerback Drew Coleman made a great heads-up play, stripping the ball away from ex-Jet Chansi Stuckey to get the ball back after the Browns got into field goal range in overtime.
Jerricho Cotchery made one of the plays of the year—despite injuring himself during the play—making a fingertip catch for a nine-yard gain on 3rd-and-8.
Jets coach Rex Ryan called it one of the gutsiest plays he'd seen in a long time. Cotchery injured his groin coming out of his break over the middle and was hopping on one leg as Sanchez again evaded pressure and kept the play alive. He floated the ball out to Cotchery in a safe spot away from the defender, and Cotchery laid out and made a sprawling catch to keep the drive alive before leaving with the injury.
Sanchez's only mistake—if you could call it that—was an interception late in the game that actually benefited the Jets and set up the winning touchdown. On third down, Sanchez heaved up a jump ball to Braylon Edwards that was intercepted by Joe Haden at the 3-yard line.
A three-and-out from the Browns deep in their own territory forced a punt back to the Jets, and Holmes scored on the next snap to secure the victory.
In addition to Cotchery's injury, left guard Matt Slauson left the game with a knee injury, and cornerback Dwight Lowery left with a head injury. Rob Turner filled in admirably at left guard; he's been tremendous in spot duty every time the Jets call his number.
At the end of the day, the "Buddy Bowl" went as expected. Rex got the best of twin brother Rob, as well as ex-Jets coach Eric Mangini. It was a tough, physical battle for five quarters. But in the end, the Jets would not be denied. The road warriors found a way to win again, and they'll take their 7-2 record back home next week to face the Houston Texans.
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