Despite entering Monday night’s game as huge underdogs, the New York Jets played well enough to win the game. With three minutes on the clock in the fourth quarter, the Jets had a chance to drive down the field to take the lead. Too bad J.J. Watt and the Texans would not let that happen.
Watt had a huge sack on 2nd down to force a 3rd and 18, when Sanchez threw an interception that essentially ended the game. This was their first ever loss to the Houston Texans (now 5-1). The Jets lost the game, but it was the toughest they’ve played all season.
“It was a lot of courage and a lot of effort that we showed. It wasn’t always perfect. We didn’t always execute the way we wanted to. You can never question our toughness or our character,” said Tim Tebow.
The Texans running schemes stifled the Jets defense in the first half, as they ran for 112 yards led by Arian Foster. Their misdirection and zone stretch plays could not be stopped; the Texans went into halftime averaging just under 10 yards per carry.
Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine made some scheme alterations after the half, so the Jets run defense did improve in the second half. They held the Texans to 57 yards, still not great, but a serious upgrade from the first half.
“We created creases on them a couple of times, but, for the most part, they played our run game well. They are a very good defense. I think they are one of the better defenses in the NFL,” said Foster on the Jets run defense.
The Jets offense had its ups and downs this game as they have all season. Their first two drives were three and outs and, just when things were looking like a blowout again, Sanchez hit Jeff Cumberland for a 27-yard touchdown. In the end, Sanchez and the offense could not get it done, as they missed on big opportunities.
The Jets put Antonio Cromartie at wide receiver and he was wide open down the field, but Sanchez threw the ball too far out of bounds. Newcomer Jason Hill dropped a possible touchdown pass from Tim Tebow in the second quarter. Then there was the run game, or lack thereof, that could only muster up 69 rush yards on 23 attempts (so much for “ground and pound”); that is an average of 3.0 yards per carry.
Tebow was able to fire up the crowd at times, but, overall, he did not have much of an impact on the game. He did have a fake punt run that went for a first down, but they ended up punting it away four plays later. Tebow did have the longest run of the game for the Jets, on a 13-yard carry to get the Jets onto the Texans three yard line. Two plays later, however, Sanchez’s pass was tipped by J.J. Watt and intercepted by Brice McCain
“J.J. Watt got his hands on a few passes tonight. That’s the way it goes. It’s going to be a bang-bang play and JK (WR Jeremy Kerley) was going to catch it. The ball’s going to be right on him and he’s going to have a chance on the safety there. Put us down in tight and maybe run one of our red zone plays and get a chance to call timeout. It’s really too bad. That happened quite a bit tonight so we got to find a way to keep the defensive linemen’s hands down,” said Sanchez.
Watt shined on the Monday Night platform, having arguably the best game of his career. He had six tackles, one sack, two quarterback hits, and three pass deflections; all of his plays came at some of the most crucial moments of the game. He made the final play of the game when he swatted down Sanchez’s last throw.
“That’s what you dream about. It’s Monday Night Football. You’re on the field. You have a chance to end the game. That’s what you want,” said Watt.
Although it was a loss, the Jets can take some positives away from the game, even though Ryan said he was not happy, “It’s a win business. We knew we would be in the game, but we thought we were going to find a way to win. That was our message of the week.”
Jeremy Kerley had another good game for the Jets, as he was their leading receiver, with five catches for 94 yards. The Jets receivers were able to create some space and get open; Sanchez just needs to deliver them the ball and the line needs to give him time to make the passes. Their pass defense did let up two big plays, but otherwise, they were outstanding, especially Cromartie, who held Andre Johnson to one reception for 15 yards.
Mike Westhoff should be given the praise for keeping the Jets in this game. After Joe McKnight ran back a 100 yard kick return for a touchdown, it became the 11th consecutive year that Westhoff’s special teams’ have had a kick returned for a touchdown. So, the Jets do have some positives they can build off of and move forward from. It is still early in the season and they have time to grow; they just need to stop turning the ball over.
“Definitely, I think we took a step in the right direction. I think the biggest thing is just trying to build on it and play the way we know we are capable of. We still have some things we want to clean up and try to get better on and just continue to work. This game we fell hard on the back end, too. We missed a couple of plays out on the field and when we just go back and look at it, I think we will get a whole lot better too,” said Cromartie.