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Jets Can't Grab Reins, Lose to Broncos, 34-17


2008 Week 13 Jets Vs Denver Photos

Wild weather, crazy game and disappointing outcome.

The Denver Broncos snapped the Jets' five-game winning streak with a 34-17 win over the home team at a sopping Meadowlands. But the 8-4 Jets remained in first place in the AFC East, a full game ahead of both the Patriots (who lost to the Steelers) and the Dolphins (who gained ground with a win over the Rams).

Returning home after a tremendous two-game road swing, the Jets never got their handle today in slick conditions. Beyond the rain and Thomas Jones, there wasn't too much else consistent as Jay Cutler outshone Brett Favre.

"I was really disappointed with the way that we played today. We've established a certain way to play football around here," said head coach Eric Mangini.  "We've established a certain identity and that was nothing close to that today. I don't think we played well in any of the three phases. I don't think we coached well. I think when you have that – this is what you get."

Despite a horribly raw last day of November, Cutler completed 27 of 42 for 357 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. And the Broncos ran it well with rookie fullback Peyton Hillis topping the 100-yard mark against what was the NFL's third-ranked rush defense. Offensively, the Jets were held to 12 points below their scoring average.

"I told Jay after the game, 'Hey, you played outstanding," said Favre, who completed 23 of 43 for 247 yards with one INT. "You play like that, it's hard to be beat. He was the better man tonight."

If the Jets had been told before the game that Jones would run for 108 yards and a pair of touchdowns in 30 minutes of action, they would have taken those numbers and probably surmised they'd be in control of the game. 

But the Broncos, playing up to their competition a week after getting embarrassed by the Raiders at home, held a 27-14 lead after two quarters.

For the first time in seven games, New York's AFC representative didn't score on its opening possession and that proved to be a bad omen. The Broncos brought a big-play approach to the Meadowlands, collecting defensive and offensive scores in the opening stanza.

When the Jets went to their Tiger package on their second drive, it appeared they had a perfect play call for a napping Denver defense. But Jerricho Cotchery couldn't handle Brad Smith's end-around pitch and misery ensued. The ball bounced backwards and it was ruled Cotchery never cleanly recovered it even though it appeared he had possession when he absorbed a blow from a Broncos defender. When the pigskin came loose a second time, Vernon Fox collected the ball and scooted 23 yards for the opening score.

Jones answered in record-breaking fashion on the next play from scrimmage. TJ's 59-yard run to the end zone was not only the longest touchdown of his career but it also gave the powerful runner his fourth consecutive 1,000-yard season. 

Just four plays later, Broncos wideout Eddie Royal got behind corner Ty Law in front of the home team sideline. Cutler, rolling right, found the rookie and safety Abe Elam came in a second late. Royal managed to stay in bounds and finished the 59-yard score.

Then after Matt Prater gave the visitors a 10-point cushion, Jones delivered the daily double with a clever effort. Defensive tackle Dewayne Robertson, who spent his first five seasons with the Green & White, spun Jones around for about a 7-yard gain and the AFC's top rusher landed on DT Kenny Peterson. Having never touched the ground, Jones calmly bounced up and finished a 29-yard TD run.

"I landed on top of him and didn't feel the ground, so when I rolled over I tried to stay on my feet," he said.  "I was like, if I run and score it will be up for debate and I'd much rather do that than just lay there."

The visitors weathered the TJ storm, ending the half on a 10-point surge.  Hillis crossed the plane from a yard out and Prater nailed a 24-yarder just three seconds before intermission. Hillis, who gave the Jets defense fits, benefited from Dré Bly's interception of an errant Favre pass intended for Laveranues Coles.

"We have wrap up, we have to gang tackle. The running back broke a lot of tackles," said veteran outside linebacker Bryan Thomas. "We missed a lot of tackles. Those are the things we have to fix and they are easily correctable."

Rookie corner Dwight Lowery got the first interception of his pro career in the third quarter. The end zone takeaway kept the Jets within 13 points as Cutler got a little cute, lazily throwing a ball over the head of tight end Tony Scheffler, and Lowery gobbled up the leftovers.

Following the takeaway, Favre passed to Leon Washington on three consecutive plays for 60 yards to get the Jets inside the Denver 10. But they weren't unable to cash in with six and settled for Jay Feely's 30-yard field goal to make it 27-17.

There were missed opportunities throughout the game for the Jets. They were turned away twice on downs in plus territory in the second half. On fourth-and-1 from the Broncos 46 in the third, Favre looked deep to a covered Chris Baker and then was sacked.

Then in the final quarter, Favre underthrew an open Cotchery on fourth-and-3 from the Broncos 39. J-Co nearly pulled it down inside the 10 but a couple of defenders forced the incompletion.

Cutler wrapped things up in style, hitting Brandon Stokley for a 36-yard TD to make it 34-17. The Broncos moved to 7-5 and are firmly control of the AFC West.

The rain began early this morning in the New York area and it never relented. And by kickoff at 4:15, the sky was dark, the wind-chill was below freezing and the precipitation was falling hard and getting blown around by the Jersey winds at 12 mph.  

Moments after the conclusion, the rain finally stopped. The bad day was finally over and the Jets are now set to begin the season's all-important fourth and final quarter.

"The season's not over yet — we don't know when it will be over," Favre said. "We can control that. We'll go out to San Francisco and see if we can rebound."

Breaking the Tie

Today's game was the 30th regular-season meeting between the two clubs. The Broncos lead the all-time series, 15-14-1, and that doesn't including the 23-10 win in the 1998 AFC Championship Game at the old Mile High Stadium.

Third Time a Charm?

The Jets hope their third California trip this season brings about a different outcome. They dropped a 48-29 decision in San Diego back in Week 3, then lost a 16-13 OT nailbiter at Oakland in Week 7.

Home Streak Halted

After the Jets lost their home opener to New England, they had run off four consecutive home wins. In two weeks, they will return to the Meadowlands to face the Buffalo Bills.

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