While the New York Jets coaching staff completes its self-scout from the 2006 season, we thought it would be a good idea if we went back to the videotape. Following an exhilarating 16 games of Green & White football, it's time to let you vote on the Jets' Plays of the Year.
In just one week of voting, Leon Washington's 64-yard reception at Miami received the most votes for Offensive Play of the Year. This week, we have selected four of the best defensive plays from the memorable 2006 season.
This week, we have selected the four top defensive plays from the memorable 2006 season
Week 3 – Jets at Bills: Kerry Rhodes' strip sack of J.P. Losman leads to Victor Hobson's 32-yard fumble recovery touchdown.
On the third Sunday of September at Buffalo's Ralph Wilson Stadium, the Jets and the Bills were locked in a close game early in the third quarter. But second-year safety Kerry Rhodes would change the divisional battle with a quick strike.
With the Bills trailing just 14-10, quarterback J.P. Losman dropped back to pass at his 25-yard-line and searched for an open receiver. What he didn't see was the 6'3", 210-pound Rhodes sneaking into the backfield on his blind-side. Rhodes beat a Willis McGahee block attempt and jarred the ball loose as Losman cocked his arm back to throw. The ball was then deflected up to the line of scrimmage, squirting through the legs of Kimo von Oelhoffen before reaching linebacker Victor Hobson at the 32-yard line. Hobson then raced along the left sideline, outrunning two Bills before splashing into the end zone.
The defensive score, which came on Rhodes' second strip-sack of the day, moved the visitors ahead by a 21-10 score. The final tally was 28-20 for the Green & White.
"Kerry has been playing really well," Hobson said of Rhodes. "That is what we need. Kerry stepped up and that was a big play. It created a lot of momentum and helped us out greatly. Fortunately, the ball rolled to me and I was able to make a play."
"We made some plays when we had to," Rhodes said. "We are still not where we want to be. You have to give them credit - they made some big plays, but we made the bigger plays."
Week 10 – Jets at Patriots: Drew Coleman forces a Doug Gabriel fumble, which is recovered by Kerry Rhodes.
Following their bye week, the New York Jets traveled north to New England looking to avenge a September loss to the Patriots at the Meadowlands. On this rain-soaked occasion, points were at a premium with the Pats holding a 3-0 second quarter advantage. Neither offense could get things on track, so the Jets' defense stepped up and gave the Green and White a boost.
After Pro Bowler Justin Miller placed the Jets' offense at their 39-yard-line on a 26-yard kickoff return, quarterback Chad Pennington gave it right back to the home team on the first play of the series with his ninth interception of the season.
One play later the Patriots were inside Jets' territory, and it looked as though Tom Brady was destined to take advantage of the takeaway. However, on a quick pass to Doug Gabriel up the left sideline, the Jets turned the game and perhaps the entire season around. Gabriel, who escaped a Drew Coleman tackle, raced nearly 20 yards downfield after the catch. Coleman, a rookie from Texas Christian University, didn't give up on the play and eventually stripped the ball out of Gabriel's grip to the waiting arms of safety Kerry Rhodes.
"That first drive when they came down and scored - that hurt, but we knew we had to come back onto the field and get things done for the next drive," Coleman said. "We knew it was going to be up to us, and we came through."
The takeaway led to the Jets' first touchdown of the game and ultimately their first win over New England in their last seven attempts.
Week 10 – Jets at Patriots: Shaun Ellis' sack seals the deal
With the Jets leading by three points and a little more than a minute remaining in the fourth quarter, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady – known for late game heroics – began to march his offense downfield.
Brady connected on consecutive passes of 14, 10, and 19 yards before stopping the clock with nine seconds left at the Jets' 46. At that point, defensive end Shaun Ellis had seen enough. On the next play, the defensive co-captain left tackle Nick Kaczur sprawled out in the mud as he blew around him on the outside. Brady surveyed the field, but Ellis slammed the two-time Super Bowl MVP to the ground, sending Brady and Ellis one way and the ball another.
With no time on the clock, guard Russ Hochstein pounced on the ball for the final stat of the game and the Jets celebrated their first win at New England since 2002.
"I thought that was a tremendous effort play, and throughout that whole series - the last two-minute series - was primarily a three-man rush, so it makes it difficult when they're keeping in six against three," said head coach Eric Mangini. "They were still able to apply an element of pressure there to Dewayne (Robertson) and Bryan (Thomas) and Shaun (Ellis), and Shaun took control of that situation on the last play, and he effectively ended it."
It was the start of a 6-2 Jets' tear to close the regular season en route to solidifying a postseason berth.
Week 13 – Jets at Packers: Bryan Thomas sacks Favre to spark a wildfire
Playing against the Packers at Lambeau Field in December isn't the most desirable task for NFL players. For the past 15 seasons, quarterback Brett Favre has thrived in front of his home crowd in subterranean weather. The former League MVP and Super Bowl winner spent the 2006 season on the brink of retirement, but the Jets' defense didn't give Favre any parting favors.
After kicker Mike Nugent split the uprights to culminate the Jets' first possession of the game, it didn't take long before defensive end Bryan Thomas got the offense back on the field. Favre went to play action on the ensuing possession, but when the quarterback looked up all he saw was #99 coming ahead. Thomas broke through on the left side untouched and forced Favre to skirmish back up through the pocket. When Thomas stripped the ball away, fellow defensive lineman Dewayne Robertson was properly aligned to jump on it.
"I attribute it to getting my technique better," Thomas said. "Coach Mangini stresses a lot about technique, footwork, hand placement, and getting on the edge. It's just a lot of technique work and getting involved."
The sack was Thomas' sixth of the season and couldn't have come at a better time. The Jets would score four unanswered touchdowns, putting the game out of reach by halftime. In a month where every victory meant getting one step closer to the playoffs, a blowout win at icy Lambeau was a notable feat.