New York Jets: Proving the Doubters Wrong
Wow! New York Jets, that’s more like it. What a phenomenal effort.
To go into Pittsburgh's house and play a game like that? Championship football.
Where to start? How about with the QB? This is why they drafted you Mark Sanchez. To bounce back like that after the disaster that was the Miami game—where you were directly responsible for the loss—showed tremendous character. All day long, two hands on the ball. Smart, accurate throws. No risky funny stuff. I loved the nifty slip away from one of the defenders when the pocket collapsed, and you immediately reset and had laser-like eyes down-field.
Focused, smart football. Locked in. I'd say that this was the biggest game of Mark's career so far. You could make a case for the playoffs last season, but let's be honest. They were playing with house money in last year's playoffs. Nobody ever really expected them to advance to the AFC Championship game with a rookie QB and rookie Head Coach.
But this game against Pittsburgh was huge. This time around there were expectations. Are the Jets for real or not?
They proved they could deliver on the road in a hostile environment against a serious playoff contender.
Offensive line? Outstanding work. Protected the QB and opened up lanes for the running game.
Receivers? Finally played QB friendly and didn't drop crucial balls.
Defense? You did Rex proud. You communicated with each other. Alert. Good hustle. Did anyone else notice Darrell Revis playing out of his mind? I don't just mean defending Revis Island. I saw him involved with quite a few crucial tackles.
Jason Taylor—I take back every bad thing I've said about you. I knew when the Jets signed you, it was for veteran presence and two or three crucial game-turning plays a season. Well, yesterday was the day. It is not possible to overstate the importance of that safety. That was the blow that broke open the game. It changed everything because then the Steelers HAD to play for the touchdown. That means the whole length of the field, not close enough for a field goal to tie.
Huge, huge play.
Do I even need to mention special teams? Everybody came to play. The effect on the psyche of the Jets from that Brad Smith TD was visible. Starting out with seven just seemed to relax Mark and the rest of the offense.
Yeah, they had a couple non-productive series, but eventually they got into a rhythm and got rolling.
And yeah, I know the Jets caught a break with Polamalu out. But there is always some element of luck involved in a championship run.
Which leads me to the Offensive Coordinator.
Brian Schottenheimer—you are the unsung hero of this game. I mean it. Really sit a minute with where this team was a week ago. Devastating loss to divisional rival Miami. QB’s confidence in tatters. Rex publicly admitting he thought about benching the Sanchise. Rex further publicly admitting that going into Pittsburgh was a daunting challenge and he wasn't sure his team was up to it.
Oh yeah, and Tripgate.
Nothing like the harsh glare of the spotlight from Park Avenue. Freefall. Panic. Post season hopes rapidly going down the drain. And what I continue to believe is a struggle for what is the offensive soul of this team between Rex and Brian. And the crowd basically calling for his head all post game.
The NY media were in a full-blown frenzy, and then he had to endure Rex sitting in on the offensive meetings breathing down his neck.
And somehow Brian digs deep. He restores Mark's confidence. (I'll bet Brunell had a big hand in that. Time will tell.) Gets the entire offense back on the same page. And, oh yeah, comes up with a terrific game plan against the Steelers.
He somehow pleases Rex by integrating the run game with some sweet pass plays as well as he has been done all year. LDT and Shonn were a terrific one-two punch on the ground. Mark made smart reads and good throws.
And how about that bootleg down at the goal line? The minute they lined up in the I, I screamed at the TV, "Mark with the bootleg! Mark with the bootleg!" Sure enough, Mark with the bootleg!
They ran that exact same play last year with the exact same result: Mark delirious in the end zone all by himself waving the ball while everyone on defense and the officials were frantically trying to pull apart 2000 pounds of linemen to find the ball they were sure was at the bottom of the pile.
Nick Mangold must have been laughing maniacally to himself at the bottom of it.
This team, more than a lot of others, runs on emotion.
Usually Rex sets the tone, but Brian showed how special he is to this organization. He calmed the waters and restored order. To do what he did last week under intense pressure and come out and record a W?
That is championship coaching. He deserves the game ball. I hope they gave it to him.
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