Midway through, it seemed as if there was going to be a blowout in New York, as the San Diego Chargers left the field with a 21-10 lead. Minutes later they returned onto the field to try and pad their lead before leaving to fly back across the country, but the Jets had other ideas in mind.
Following the half, the Jets were finally able to force Philip Rivers and company to punt for the first time since the first quarter, which they failed to take advantage of. It was not until San Diego's third three-and-out of the game that the Jets drove down the field to score.
In comparison to the third quarter, not much changed in the fourth as Plaxico Burress caught his third touchdown pass to give his team the lead. The Jets defense continued to hold off the Chargers offense and was able to keep them from making a late comeback, and just as they did 11 years ago in the "Monday Night Miracle," the Jets came back and left the Meadowlands victorious.
With that, here are the five things learned from Sunday's victory. As always, feedback is welcome. Enjoy!
Since the beginning of his career with the Jets, whenever the Jets had problems with their passing game, a lot of the blame was directed towards Mark Sanchez. That trend carried into the following season and this year.
Against San Diego, Sanchez silenced his naysayers. Although he made a poor decision in the second quarter when he attempted to throw it to Plaxico Burress in the end zone and was picked off, that was his only poor decision. It was mainly the pass protection that led to Sanchez's lack of success this season, but on Sunday Sanchez received the best protection of the entire season.
Because of the spectacular job his offensive line did, Sanchez was only sacked twice (one of which he gave up on so that Nick Folk could extend the lead to six points late in the fourth quarter) and was able to throw three touchdowns for 173 yards with one interception. Although the yardage is not very impressive, several times, Sanchez connected with his receivers on third down, extending drives and setting up their touchdowns.
Contrary to what a lot of people say, Mark Sanchez does a great job of managing the New York Jets offense, and he proved that he can bring his team back yet again against a good San Diego team as the Jets head into their bye week with a 27-21 victory.
One of the problems haunting the Jets entering the 2011 season was their inability to score in the red zone. To combat this problem, the Jets signed Plaxico Burress during the offseason, so that Mark Sanchez could have a big and tall target to throw to in the end zone.
The signing of Plaxico Burress won the game for the New York Jets, as all of their three conversions in the red zone came from touchdown passes to him. The Jets were 3-5 in the red zone as Nick Folk made two field goals, keeping his perfect percentage, being 10-10 on the season.
There was another touchdown play just outside of the red zone that should be mentioned, which is the beautiful Santonio Holmes touchdown that was called back because of a holding penalty on Nick Mangold. This play became so significant early on, because right after that play, Mark Sanchez threw the interception to Eric Weddle.
The Jets have improved their ability to score in the red zone through the air, and all that is left is finding a way to incorporate the running game when they are down there, and they should be unstoppable.
For the New York Jets defense, the story of how they can recover when facing adversity has been the case all season long. On several occasions this season, the Jets defense has allowed teams to rush for over 100 yards while also moving the ball downfield with a successful aerial attack.
It seemed that the same was going to ensue against the Chargers, as the Jets trailed 21-10 at halftime. They were letting Antonio Gates dominate them downfield, and the combination of Ryan Matthews and Mike Tolbert looked too good to be stopped.
After the half, the Jets defense looked like a completely different team, as they were able to blank the Chargers while their offense put up 17 points to give them the lead and ultimately the victory. The great second half performance by their defense was a result of their ability to cover passes downfield and recognize the run.
In order for the Jets to get better, they will need to build off of the success they had in the second half while also putting some more pressure on opposing quarterbacks. There was several times when Philip Rivers had too much time in the pocket, but luckily for the Jets, the coverage held up.
Entering Sunday, the biggest concern facing the Jets was how they were going to bring back the "ground and pound," as their running game was ranked 31st in the league. Earlier this month, the Jets running game reached its lowest point against the Baltimore Ravens as they were only able to run for 38 yards.
Since the game against Baltimore, the Jets' "ground and pound" began to return, as they ran for 97 yards in their loss to New England, 104 yards in their victory over Miami on Monday night, and 162 yards against San Diego, with Shonn Green finally having his first 100-plus yard game of the season.
How the Jets run the ball makes a huge impact on their offense as a whole. If they run the ball like they did against Baltimore, their passing game will also be ineffective, as that will be the only thing defenses have to defend against. On the other hand, if the Jets run like they did against San Diego, it shows that it opens up their offense and allows them to do practically whatever they want throughout the game.
Based on the performance of Kyle Wilson in the fourth quarter, he deserves an island of his own. Against San Diego, Wilson had two tackles, a deflected pass and a hit on Philip Rivers.
Of the statistics listed above, the only two that did not come in the last seven minutes of the fourth quarter was his hit on Philip Rivers and one of his tackles. While the interception by Wilson was huge because it gave the Jets the ball, which led to a field goal that extended their lead to six points—their margin of victory—his tackle on Patrick Crayton was the biggest play of the last two minutes.
With less than a minute to go, Wilson allowed Crayton to catch the short dump pass and delivered a hit that would keep Crayton in bounds, letting the Chargers waste more time as they hurried back to the line to try and make up for lost time.
Kyle Wilson had a tough rookie season in 2010, so he worked with Darrelle Revis over the offseason and is looking like the cornerback the Jets envisioned when they drafted him last year. His play against the Chargers displays how his work with Revis paid off. And with his improvement, the quartet of cornerbacks featuring Donald Strickland, Antonio Cromartie, Wilson and Revis is arguably the best in the league.