New York Jets Report Card: Grading New York's Week 9 Performance
The Jets looked like the much better team in an AFC East battle that offered a certain defensive war between two of the NFL’s best defenses. For one half, the game gave just that, but the Jets broke out in the second half and left the Bills in their dust, scoring 24 second half points.
For the first time this season, both offense and defense looked to be in sync for the Jets. While the Jets were safe with the football and made few mistakes, the Bills turned the ball over three times—the costly mistakes the Jets needed to force them into in order to win this game.
With a key road win in the books, let’s take a look at how each group performed in Week 9.
The New York Jets needed Mark Sanchez to play better than he had to start the season and despite an early interception in the end zone that ultimately went harmless, Sanchez did just that.
The former first-round draft pick was composed in the pocket and played efficiently, completing 20-of-28 passes for 230 yards and a third quarter touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes. Sanchez did a great job of spreading the ball around, and he utilized every option he had on the field on the way to the Jets' 27-11 victory over the rival Bills.
A bobbled snap resulted in a fumble, a mistake the Jets would have preferred to have played without, but Sanchez did enough to help the Jets get a big win.
Through seven games, the running back unit had been anything but spectacular. Both Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson have struggled to get anything going and were averaging less than four yards per carry on the season.
Their Week 9 performance vs. the Bills may have been a turn in the right direction.
Greene displayed some hard-nosed running against the Bills’ constricting run defense. He rushed for 76 yards on 19 carries, and also had a 42-yard run—his longest of the season—called back for holding.
Tomlinson had limited carries, but did his best to capitalize on them with a big score at the goal with a leap over the top that we’ve seen so many times before.
Wide Receivers/Tight End
This Jets receiving corps is the best New York has seen in some time.
Holmes, Plaxico and Kerley did their best to be open all day long against the Bills’ secondary.
Plaxico was great for a second week in a row, finishing with five receptions for 79 yards. Jeremy Kerley helped in the short-yardage game on multiple occasions with four catches for 23 yards, and the Jets’ No. 1 receiver, Santonio Holmes, left Ralph Wilson Stadium with four receptions for 29 yards and the lone touchdown reception on the day in the third quarter.
The tight end, Dustin Keller, meanwhile, had a solid day once again with four receptions for 64 yards before hurdling himself to the sideline.
The offensive line gave Mark Sanchez all day against the Bills and holes were open everywhere for Shonn Greene, Joe McKnight and LaDainian Tomlinson to run through.
Sanchez was sacked just one time, during the first quarter, and rarely faced pressure from the Bills defense again all game. The time Sanchez had enabled him to have a big day from the pocket and helped guide the Jets to a much-needed win against their divisional foe.
Coming into the game against the Bills with the 25th ranked run defense in the NFL, there were a lot of concerns about how the Jets would stop the Bills stud running back, Fred Jackson. The Jets defensive line quickly silenced those concerns from the beginning, allowing Jackson to make a minimal impact on the game.
The Jets held Jackson to just 82 yards on 18 carries—his first game since Week 5 in which he did not run for at least 110 yards.
The defensive line kept the pressure on Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick all game, forcing him to make bad throws, including two costly interceptions. They failed to sack the Harvard graduate, but did enough to make him wilt under pressure. Fitzpatrick threw for just 191 yards and a touchdown on 15-of-31 passing.
The Jets’ linebackers completely shut the Buffalo Bills offense down. They could not run. They could not pass.
Despite nothing in the sack department, the linebackers terrorized Ryan Fitzpatrick on nearly every play for the Jets. They kept the pressure coming and came up with two interceptions, by Calvin Pace and David Harris, that proved to be very costly for Buffalo.
The linebackers swarmed all over the field and kept big plays from happening, and big points off the scoreboard—the key to their victory in Buffalo. They did everything needed to and more.
As is the weekly occurrence, Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie kept their receivers locked up and kept the ball out of Buffalo’s playmakers’ hands.
Revis’ name went mostly uncalled, but it was just another day at the office for Revis, who had Stevie Johnson all alone on Revis Island for this game.
The secondary’s outstanding coverage forced Fitzpatrick to force some bad balls into coverage. Fitzpatrick finished with a completion percentage under 50 percent and his passer rating at 51.9—Fitzpatrick had a passer rating of 97.8 coming into this game.
The New York Jets special teams unit has quietly become of the best in the NFL. They do more to justify that claim as the weeks go by.
Joe McKnight continued his impressive season in the kick return game for the Jets, averaging 41.5 yards per return thanks in part to a 59-yard gain on his first return of the game. McKnight has become the special teams threat the Jets thought they would miss in now-Buffalo Bills receiver, Brad Smith.
Punter T.J. Conley did his job and Nick Folk continue his awesome comeback season, missing his first field goal of the season, but nailing two others at 49 and 50 yards. Folk is 12-of-13 on the season.
Coming off the bye, expectations weren’t high as the Jets were 0-2 under Rex Ryan after the bye. The Jets were able to end that, and Rex Ryan’s team looked much more comfortable than in years past.
This should have been a much tougher game, but Rex Ryan did a great job with his game plan for the Bills.
The defense tightened up against the run and silenced Fred Jackson. Ryan Fitzpatrick was unable to get anything going and had his worst game of the season. Playmakers Stevie Johnson and David Nelson were unable to make a big impact with the Jets defense blanketing them.
On offense, Brian Schottenheimer called his best game of the season, and maybe—for a week or two—won the hearts of Jets fans for the time being. The play-calling was well balanced, allowing for Shonn Greene to do some things in the run game while Sanchez spread the ball around and took some chances downfield.