The Jets defense allowed a touchdown 4:39 into Sunday's game in Washington, and never let the Redskins sniff the end zone again. Another slow start for the Green & White was followed by a furious defensive performance, suffocating the Redskins. In the end, the Jets were able to come away with a 34-19 win in the nation's capital, remaining very much alive in the playoff race.
Washington came out with guns blazing, screaming down the field on an eight-play, 82-yard drive capped off by a two yard touchdown run from rookie RB Roy Helu. Helu ran it five times for 32 yards on the opening drive, displaying his combination of strength and speed.
"It was pretty clear to see what our worst drive was today," said LB Aaron Maybin. "For us to be able to buckle down and play that style of defense the rest of the game was good for us."
After the undressing they sustained in the first drive, the Jets defense turned their day around.
"They came out and were able to hit us with some things," said S Jim Leonhard, who finished with five tackles and two pass deflections. "We had to make some adjustments and were able to shut them down most of the day."
The Jets jogged into the locker room at halftime down, 13-10, and would go on to outscore the Skins, 24-6, over the final two quarters. Instead of making wholesale changes to their approach, they took a different mentality into the second half.
"We didn't make any adjustments," said DT Sione Pouha. "We felt confident in our game plan all week. In the second half, we just came together and were executing."
The defensive execution in the second half was immediately apparent. The 'Skins possessed the ball four times in the third quarter and failed to gain a single first down. The drives consisted of three three-and-outs and a Helu fumble forced by DT Marcus Dixon and recovered by S Eric Smith.
The Jets were not able to capitalize on the turnover, but they added three points in the quarter to tie the game at 13. After the 'Skins pulled ahead with a 46-yard field goal, the Jets offense took a four point lead when QB Mark Sanchez connected with WR Santonio Holmes on a 30-yard touchdown.
The Redskins got the ball back with 4:49 to go and the Jets were in familiar territory. With a small lead late in the fourth quarter, the Jets were looking to reverse their recent trend of shaky late-game defense.
"It was one of those situations where we knew it was crunch time," said Maybin. "We've been harping for the last couple of weeks about not letting our last drive be our worst drive."
All that harping paid off as Maybin sacked Rex Grossman and forced a fumble that was recovered by LB Calvin Pace at the 'Skins 9.
"Right before the play, Rex [Ryan] came to me and said, 'Sacks in the fourth quarter win games," said Maybin.
For "Mayhem," it was his sixth sack and fourth forced fumble of the season. He leads the team in both categories and in his still limited time with the Jets he's one off the NFL lead in FFs.
The Green & White found the end zone two snaps later behind RB Shonn Greene's second touchdown of the afternoon. A three-point deficit turned into an 11-point lead in 1:07 of clock time.
"It feels great to close a game out like that," said Leonhard. "Anytime you can take a deficit in the fourth quarter and blow a team out, it feels really good."
It was a game that hung very much in the balance, even into the late stages. But the Jets turned it on at the right time and trained back home with a 7-5 record.
"I think this week we just did a better job than last week," said Pace. "The Buffalo game, they played pretty well. Take away a couple of drives in this game and we, to a certain degree, dominated."