Sunday's 29-26 overtime loss to the New England Patriots was a tough one. The Jets had the lead with 1:37 left but couldn't stop Tom Brady from driving down the field for a game-tying field goal and, in overtime, couldn't stop him from setting up Stephen Gostkowski's game-winning field goal.
Offense: Pretty Good, with Exceptions
Mark Sanchez threw for 328 yards (28-for-41, 1 TD, 1 INT) and he connected with eight different receivers. And he led a superb 92-yard drive late in the 4th quarter with the Jets down by 10.
Despite this success, Sanchez still had a bad game. How could a 300-yards-plus passer have a bad game? With the score tied and the Jets in the red zone, Sanchez took a Dont'a Hightower sack for a 12-yard loss rather than throwing the ball away. Fortunately, Nick Folk hit the go-ahead 43-yard field goal despite the extra distance.
Having made this fundamental mistake in regulation, you'd think that Sanchez would have learned his lesson. Nevertheless, following the Patriots field goal in overtime, Sanchez made almost the same mistake. Rather than take a sack and keep the game alive, he makes a lame attempt to pass while falling down, causing him to fumble away the game. Didn't anyone tell him to protect the ball before overtime started? Shouldn't he know this as a fourth-year veteran? How many games do Jets fans have to endure with a quarterback who still hasn't learned to protect the ball?
Otherwise, the Jets offense played pretty good. Jeremy Kerley (seven catches, 120 yards) had a career game, including making a beautiful play where he outbattled Alfonzo Dennard and tipped the ball to himself for a 22-yard reception. Kerley is really developing into a real nice receiver. It was also great to see that Dustin Keller (7-93-TD) is fully recovered from his hamstring injury. And Stephen Hill (4-55) had some nice grabs. too. Hill did make a rookie mistake in a critical situation. He was wide open on the 13-yard line with daylight when he ran before he hauled in the pass. This drop could have cost the Jets the game as they ended up settling for a game-tying 43-yard field goal.
The Jets offensive line was terrific. Despite New England's four sacks, Sanchez had plenty of time to throw on most passing plays. Sometimes he had a ridiculous amount of time. The Jets rushing game had a few nice bursts but overall was mediocre. Shonn Greene fumbled once and messed up a handoff.
My favorite play of the game came on Greene's fumble. Greene was fighting with five Patriots defenders to recover the ball. Backup TE Konrad Reuland came out of nowhere and managed to come out of the pile with the ball!
Defense: Landry Gets a Dirty Dozen (Tackles)
On the defensive side, the Jets played well. They held Tom Brady to only two touchdowns and two field goals. LaRon Landry was beastly with 12 solo tackles. Unfortunately, on Rob Gronkowski's 17-yard touchdown, Landry couldn't quite cover the 6'7" tight end (although not many defensive backs can).
Rookie Demario Davis saw his most extended action of the season and delivered six tackles. Davis adds speed and youth to an aging linebacking corp. I'm sure we'll see more of him as the season progresses. Antonio Cromartie did miss an easy interception.
Special Teams: Mixed Bag
On special teams, there were highs and lows. On a positive note, Joe McKnight averaged 29.0 yards on his four kickoff returns, including a 41-yarder. Nick Folk was flawless in hitting four field goals, including a 54-yarder into the wind to end the first half. Rob Malone averaged over 56 yards on his three punts.
On the other hand, Gang Green did something it never does — it gave up a kickoff return for a touchdown. Devin McCourty's 104-yard touchdown swung the momentum back to New England after the Jets had taken their 7-0 lead. Mike Westhoff will certainly work on this for next week.
Talking about next week, the Jets play the Dolphins at home. With a 2-1 divisional record and one game behind the Patriots, the Jets really need to win this one. No more close losses. We need a win!