New York Jets: How Did Week 12 Affect the Jets and AFC Playoff Contenders?
As Thanksgiving week comes and goes, it is quickly becoming crunch time in the NFL.
All of a sudden, 11 games are in the books, the bye weeks have been done since week 10, and the playoff picture is starting to take shape.
The calendar turns to December, and that means snow games, upped intensity and the playoff push for teams like the Jets.
Before we delve into the showdown with the Patriots next weekend, let's take a look at how week 12's AFC games affected the New York Jets.
The Jets Took Care of Business Against The Bengals
The Jets set up their de-facto bye week by disposing of the Bengals 26-10 on Thanksgiving night.
After a lackluster first half, that saw the Jets trail 7 - 3 at the break, the Jets put together the best half of football they've played since the week 4 victory against the Buffalo Bills.
The Jets rode their defense and the versatile Brad Smith to a 23 - 3 second-half run to beat Cincinnati.
Smith scored on a reverse early in the 3rd quarter to put the Jets up by three points, and then, despite losing his left shoe, scored on a kickoff return in the fourth quarter after the Bengals had cut the score to 24 - 10.
New England Patriots 45, Detroit Lions 24
The Pats put the pressure on the Jets by defeating the Lions on Thursday afternoon, in the Thanksgiving matinee game.
For a while, it appeared as if the Jets were headed to a shot at the outright division lead on Thanksgiving night, but the Pats spoiled the party for the home-standing Detroit fans.
The Lions led the Pats at the half 17-10, and Tom Brady was held without a TD pass. The second half however, was a different story.
Brady connected on four touchdowns including two to his old reliable target Deion Branch. One of Branch's touchdowns went for 79 yards on a route adjustment by Branch. Branch was supposed to run an in-cut, but took advantage of his chemistry with Brady and went up field for the huge game-changing play. That score tied the game at 24.
The Patriots never looked back.
A bad result for the Jets, putting both teams at 9-2 and setting up next week gargantuan Monday night showdown in Foxboro.
Steelers 19, Bills 16 In Overtime In Orchard Park
The Bills nearly did the Jets and every other playoff contending team a huge favor Sunday afternoon.
The Bills used a Rian Lindell to tie the game with less than a minute to go in the fourth quarter. Lindell was forced to make the kick twice as Steelers called time out just before Lindell's attempt.
Steve Johnson had the game on his hands in overtime. Ryan Fitzpatrick hit the Bills receiver on a perfectly thrown deep-ball, that Johnson dropped, his fifth drop of the day. The play would have resulted in a game-winning touchdown.
Instead,newly signed Shaun Suisham nailed a 41-yard field goal to win it for the Steelers.
The Steelers moved to 8-3, and first place in the AFC North.
Baltimore Ravens 17, Tampa Bay Bucs 10
The Ravens used their tough defense and the strong right arm of Joe Flacco to defeat the Bucs on Sunday, moving the Ravens into a tie with the Steelers for the AFC North lead.
Flacco threw TD passes to veterans Todd Heap and Derrick Mason. Mason's score put the Ravens up 17 - 3 at the half.
The Ravens were shut out in the second half, but their defense held strong, stopping the "comeback kids" in Tampa from another comeback win.
The tie at 8 - 3 with the Steelers makes it probable that the second wild card will come from the loser of the Steeler - Raven divisional battle and presently, has more effect on teams like Jacksonville, Indianapolis, Denver and San Diego than it does the Patriots at the Jets.
Those four teams will be battling for two spots - the two division champions. But it's the NFL, and things change on a week to week basis.
Houston Texans 20, Tennessee Titans 0
The Texans shut out the hapless Titans who all of a sudden, are down to their third string quarterback.
With injuries to veteran Kerry Collins, and injury and controversy brewing with Vince Young, it was on Rusty Smith of Florida Atlantic University fame, to lead the Titans.
The Texans finally won a game, moving their record to 5 - 6 and put a major damper on the Titans playoff hopes.
This was a fabulous result for playoff contending teams as the Titans were sent to their sixth loss,a game back of the divisional lead behind both Jacksonville and Indianapolis.
The game featured a "hockey fight" between firey Cortland Finnegan of the Titans, and the Texans' wide receiver Andre Johnson.
New York Giants 24, Jacksonville Jaguars 20
The Jets' crosstown (well, cross-stadium) counterpart, did the Jets and and every other AFC playoff contending team a favor by holding off the Jags on Sunday.
The Jaguars opened the game by pounding the ball with Maurice Jones-Drew and Rashad Jennings gashing the Giants for 163 rushing yards on the day, and opening a 17- 6 halftime lead.
The Giants however, responded by outscoring the Jags 18 - 3 in the second half, sending the Jaguars to their fifth loss of the year.
Kansas City Chiefs 42, Seattle Seahawks 24
The Chiefs garnered their seventh win on the season in impressive fashion in Seattle on Sunday.
Dwayne Bowe was phenomenal catching 13 balls, for 170 yards and three touchdowns. Jamaal Charles handled the rushing duties, gaining 173 yards and adding a touchdown of his own.
The Chiefs took the outright division lead thanks to Miami's effort in Oakland.
Miami Dolphins 33, Oakland Raiders 17
The Dolphins kept their playoff hopes alive, and put the Raiders' playoff chances in dire-straits with their victory on Sunday.
The Raiders were sent to their sixth loss, and two games behind the Chiefs for the divisional lead.
The result isn't great for playoff contending teams, and the Dolphins, who never seem to want to give up, managed to move back over .500 at 6-5.
They are up against it though, trailing the Jets and Patriots by three full games in the AFC East, and would need one of the two teams to collapse down the stretch.
Chad Henne's return to quarterback was huge for the 'Phins as he threw for 307 yards, and the rushing attack returned as Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams combined to rush for 180 yards, including a 45-yard Ricky Williams touchdown.
San Diego Super Chargers 36, Indianapolis Colts 14
The Chargers created a log jam by defeating the Colts in the Sunday night showdown that culminated Thanksgiving weekend 2010.
In what was a strange game, that saw Nate Kaeding kick five field goals, Manning threw four interceptions including two interception touchdown returns by the Charger defense.
The result for the moment, is good for playoff contenders, as the Colts and Chargers both stand at 6-5.
The Chargers however, are on their annual late season run to the playoffs, amd will make their run at the division-leading Chiefs as the season closes.
Can both teams keep winning to put the pressure on the wild card contenders like the Jets/Pats division runner-up or the Ravens/Steelers runner-up?
Root against these two as the season winds down.
Week 12 Final Thoughts
Week 12 was a few plays away from being tremendous for Jets' fans.
If the Bills could have managed a win over the Steelers and the Bucs could have pulled some more "late game magic", the Jets would have had a nice firm grasp on at least a wild card pllayoff berth.
The Jets however have their sights on a division crown and with the Pats' week 12 win over the Lions, the stage is set for an epic show down on Monday night.
Should the Jets win, they would be in prime position for the division win with a one game lead, a 4-0 divisional record, and two head to head wins against New England.
A loss would put the Jets a full game behind, but the Jets would still have a 3-1 divisional record and time to catch New England with four games to play.