Jets Rock Broncos, 24-20, Soar to 5-1

If this is Denver, it's going to be tough on the team wearing the green and white.

The Jets came into the Mile High City on a roll, seeking their first 5-1 start since 2004 and only the sixth in franchise history, and seeking to put another team with a losing record further in a hole.

But the Broncos had the No. 2 passing offense, the mile-high air, the rabid fan base, and a history of treating the Jets badly with six wins in the teams' last seven meetings in Denver.

Yet the Jets persevered and pulled it out, 24-20, over the Broncos. When things were looking bleakest, on fourth-and-6 from the Broncos 48 and inside the two-minute warning, the Jets, who had a few calls in the secondary go against them during the game, got one their way. Sanchez lofted one deep to Santonio Holmes on the hitch-and-go, Renaldo Hill grabbed Holmes' facemask and the flag came out: Pass interference on the Broncos, first-and-goal at the 2.

"Santonio catches that ball at the 2, guaranteed, if the guy doesn't interfere with him," said Sanchez.

"I don't think Mark Sanchez would have made that throw last year. I truly don't think he would have," said Jets head coach Rex Ryan.  "He would have thrown underneath and tried to make it, but he had the presence of mind to say, 'You know what, I have 1-on-1 coverage out there.  I'm going to throw it to a great football player who's down in the end zone and either 'Ton's going to catch it or they're going to have to foul him.  He launched it up there and that's exactly what happened."

On the next play, LaDainian Tomlinson went over for his second touchdown of the fourth quarter, and those points pushed the Jets to their hard-fought victory and that coveted 5-1 record.

"We did a great job of stepping up to the challenge," Tomlinson said.  "Usually if you turn the ball over three times, you lose the game, but we kept fighting. It didn't look good for us but in the end it came out the right way."

But the game wasn't over until Kyle Orton, who had led the Broncos back into Jets territory in the final minute, couldn't handle an errant shotgun snap from rookie center J.D. Walton. Who should recover and dash an opponent's hopes for a second straight week than Dwight Lowery.

"We found another way to close out a game when our defense was on the field, so I'm proud of that," Ryan said.  "Are we playing as well on defense as we did last year?  No, but I'll take it this way. We're finding ways to win at the end of games."

And so with the heartstopping finish, the Jets held onto sole possession of first place in the AFC East as the Patriots defeated the Ravens in overtime to move to 4-1. Now the Jets can take their bye week off to rest their bodies, recharge their minds and get ready to attack the "second half" (actually the last five-eighths) of their very promising season.

The Jets scuffled and scrambled the whole game, but they didn't get to 4-1 by rolling over during tough times. They climbed back into a 10-10 tie by turning to Folk, who had already launched his first two kickoffs through the North end zone. And Ryan, who said Folk had nailed a kick or two from 63 yards in practice, sent him out for a mere 56-yarder, which Folk put through easily with 6:41 left in the third quarter to break the franchise-long record of 55 yards held by three others.

Then the Broncos struck back with a 15-play vengeance, plus a controversial call or two, to Orton's 17-yard strike to rookie WR Demaryius Thomas over Darrelle Revis to take back the lead at 17-10. But two series later, the visitors tied it again on LaDainian Tomlinson's 20-yard burst off his left side, on a long stretch handoff from Sanchez and with a key block by rookie fullback John Conner, with 8:36 left.

But Orton's key 13-yard scramble on third-and-11 helped position the Orange for Matt Prater's 48-yard field goal with 3:55 to play. And when the Jets appeared to stall just across midfield, those looked to be the winning points.

But especially with Yogi Berra and the Jets, it's never over till it's over. The Jets' team prevailed once again.

The game began under a big and bright Denver sky with tense play by both sides. The Jets offense went three-and-out twice, with Sanchez throwing two near-picks on the first drive alone.

But the Broncos couldn't capitalize as RB Knowshon Moreno fumbled the ball away, Dwight Coleman on the strip and Revis recovering, then going three-and-out themselves.

On the Jets' third drive, Sanchez finally threw his first interception of the season, delivering it right to LB Jason Hunter. That ended the second-year QB's INT-less streak at five games and ended the Green & White's NFL-record-tying streak of four straight turnover-less games.

The hosts drove to the Jets 7 but David Harris' crushing tackle for loss of on Correll Buckhalter set up a field goal, and then long-snapper Lonie Paxton dribbled the snap back to holder Britton Colquitt. No attempt and the visitors from the east dodged another early bullet.

The first quarter ended scoreless, marking the eighth consecutive game the Jets have held the opponents scoreless in the opening frame. An omen? The Jets were 5-2 in the previous seven. And on the first play of the new quarter, Sanchez shook off his early issues to hit Braylon Edwards, singled up against Champ Bailey on the post, for 32 yards and the duo's fourth TD connection this season, and the Green & White had a 7-0 lead.

But Denver came right back with an eight-play, 80-yard march. One feature was Orton's 27-yard completion to Jabar Gaffney past Revis to the Jets 5. The next feature was rookie Tim Tebow's direct-snap sweep to the right pylon for his first pro touchdown and the tying score.

Then the Broncos sneaked one in on the Jets specials as Matt Prater chopped a high-hopping onside kick that Nate Jones recovered for the home side. But they couldn't do anything with that field position.

Conversely, the Jets couldn't do anything with a seven-play drive to Denver's 39 when Sanchez, trying to find Keller for a third-down conversion, instead threw his second pick of the game, this one to CB Syd'Quan Thompson.

The Broncos converted the field position at their 35 with 39 seconds left in the half into their first lead of the game. The Jets D held Orton to three incompletions from their 41, but on came Prater for a 59-yard field goal. It equaled the longest kick by an  opponent in Jets franchise history.

Game Notes

Tomlinson, who finished with 16 carries for 55 yards, had only 12 carries for 29 yards until he burst through the Broncos' new 4-3 alignment for his 20-yard TD. "LT is just playing inspiring football for us," said Sanchez, "and it's contagious." ... David Harris led the defense with eight tackles, and Antonio Cromartie (three PDs) came up big again, this time against Brandon Lloyd. Revis had two PDs and Drew Coleman had five solo tackles, a tackle for loss, a PD and a forced fumble on New Jersey product Knowshon Moreno in the first quarter, which Revis recovered.

Three Jets kickers had hit four 55-yard FGs before Folk blasted his 56-yarder: Pat Leahy vs. Chicago in 1985, John Hall at Seattle in '97, and Jay Feely vs. St. Louis in '08 and Miami last season. ... For Denver, Prater's 59-yarder equaled the longest by an opponent in franchise history, booted by the Dolphins' Pete Stoyanovich at the old Meadowlands stadium in 1989. ... Prater now holds the NFL record for best percentage on 50-plus field goals, .818 (9-of-11).

The Jets not only lost their bid for an NFL record but also had their 10-game streak with a zero or positive turnover margin come to an end. And for Ryan, who believes in the turnover margin statistic, this was his first win as Jets coach with a minus TO margin after five losses with a minus last year. ... Jets game captains: Mark Brunell, Dwight Lowery, Lance Laury, Matt Slauson and Trevor Pryce.

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