If you’ve been around Gang Green nation long enough, then Sunday’s 10-7 loss to Atlanta in the game’s final minutes should come as no surprise. No franchise in the NFL snatches defeat from the claws of victory with it all on the line (The Houston Texans haven’t been around long enough but their resume IS growing) more often, year in year out, than the J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS. Need proof? Please. It would be like reading you the Dead Sea Scrolls. We’d be a light year into the future by the time we were done with THAT laundry list.
Recent debacles in the past twenty odd years include 1986, when the Jets went from from 10-1 to just a 10-6 wildcard entry. Then falling at Cleveland during the divisional playoffs in OT thanks to Mark Gastineau’s idiotic late hit on Bernie Kosar . The 1994 Dan Marino fake spike play, and ensuing tailspin that sent the first place Jets led by Pete Carroll, to oblivion.USC would soon follow for the guy who during the “milk it, milk it” Bruce Coslet era, motioned to Pete Stoyanovich the choke sign after a miss. The Dolphins star kicker then hit a game winning bomb moments later. The Jets were up 10-0 in Denver in the AFC Championship under Bill Parcells in 1999, only to watch John Elway rally the Broncos to their first world title.
How about 2008? The Jets were 8-3 and alone in first, until Brett Favre started throwing the ball like Pat Ryan. The 9-7 finish ended the bizarre Favre- Eric Mangini marriage. Now this. A chance to control destiny vanishing into the the endless Meadowlands swamp. This after fighting for a month to get back into the AFC playoff hunt. The Jets botching three field goals were the culprit. Three! They held the struggling Atlanta offense to 3 points all day, only to allow a Matt Ryan to Tony Gonzalez TD with 1:15 left. Mark Sanchez? The rookie made some timely plays in his return from two knee injuries that have him resembling Joe Namath in the knee brace department. However, three more interceptions helped lead to another crushing loss that now leaves the Jets needing a win against the undefeated Colts in order to have life during the final week. Yikes.
It didn’t have to be this way. The 7-6 Jaguars lost on Thursday. The 7-6 Dolphins lost on Sunday. The Jets were right there. Safety Kerry Rhodes symbolized the team’s frustration.” This (bleep) is crazy, man. We (bleeping) got exactly what we wanted and we couldn’t get it done.”
When Sanchez (18-32 226 1TD 1int) hooked up with WR Braylon Edwards for a 65 yard TD pass, the Jets took 7-3 lead. It stayed that way until the final minute. The Jets vaunted ground game however was bottled up for most of the day as the Jets had trouble adding to the lead,. Thomas Jones managed just 52 yards, as the Jets tried to attack one of the leagues worst pass defenses. The plan backfired. That’s because three FG attempts were wasted. One because of a high snap, the other a Kellen Clemens drop, the third was on Feely.
The inability by the Jets to tack on more, gave life to an Atlanta team that was eliminated from playoff contention Saturday night, thanks to the Dallas win over the then 13-0 Saints. Falcons QB Matt Ryan, back from a toe injury that had kept him out two games, engineered a drive that left the Falcons with a fourth down inside the ten with just over a minute left. The whole stadium knew where the ball was going, to soon to be hall of fame TE Tony Gonzalez. It did, as a zone full of Jets encircled him, too far to disrupt the first TD in 34 possession against the Jets. What a time to let that happen. Sanchez threw an interception shortly after that sealed the Jets fate. 10-7 was the final.
The Jets defense has now had the lead three times going into the game’s final five minutes. The result has been 0 for 3. Losses to Miami on Monday night, Jacksonville and the Jones Drew kneel, and now Atlanta. Two for three would have equalled a first place tie with the now not so unbeatable New England Patriots. One win would mean an 8-6 record and control of their own destiny.
Instead it’s win and get help. The 7-7 record is not all the defense’s fault. Maybe
too much was expected of Sanchez too early. The interceptions have been piling up since September. Signs of a rookie QB’s growing pains that the Jets may have tried to will away by all of the preseason talk about a killer defense and run first approach to the year.
Nonetheless, the recent three game win streak that left the Jets first in rushing and defensive yards allowed, regenerated hope that seemed lost during the mid season swoon that saw the once 3-0 Jets fall to 4-6.. Now hope is fleeting again. If you follow the Jets, you are well accustomed to watching a team that loses the game BEFORE the big game. Yet it’s in the club’s DNA to both tank in an Atlanta type game, yet show up and steal the Indy one. Rex Ryan who said “we’re out of the playoffs after the loss retracted his statement , admitting on Monday that he was “dead wrong.” Ryan’s no math major but who could blame the single minded focus that comes with gearing up to run the table.
Now there’s a new table to run. A two game table. It’s now over. However, because of the tragic loss to Atlanta, the final run will have to start with 14-0 Indy, if the Jets want to still be talking about 2009, not 2010 next Monday. A tall order. As Jet fans fasten their seat belts once again this Sunday, they know that in all likelihood, Peyton Manning and co. will ensure that it will be for the last time in ’09. Then again, if you follow the Jets, you have been witness countless times to the fact
that nothing EVER goes as planned.
A LOOK BACK AT THE THREE KEYS TO ATLANTA:
JET D FORCING TURNOVERS: Jet D was hot coming in, but forced the big goose egg. Atlanta picked off Sanchise 3 times.
THROW IT SMART NOT SCARED: We asked for 50 percent completion , we got it at 18-32. We asked for 200 yards and got that at 232. Smart? Three picks for Sanchez, again. Some timely throws but in all, too many mistakes. The missed FG”s exposed the Int’s.
WATCH WOODHEAD: We felt that the Jets super conservative passing game would be aided by the emerging Wes Welker, Wayne Chrebet type. Rookie slot WR/RB Danny Woodhead DID get more involved but the opportunities missed in the kicking game again nullifies the good what Woodhead’s increased role could provided.
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