Losers of three straight games and five of their past six while facing an early 7-0 deficit on the road, the New York Jets weren’t quite ready to give up on their season.
Instead, the Jets (4-6) scored the next 27 points to beat the St. Louis Rams (3-6-1) on Sunday, 27-13, and for the moment anyway, keep their slim playoff hopes alive.
And, while a difficult, quick turnaround on Thanksgiving night against the first-place New England Patriots (7-3) is next, a lucky break – literally – might help New York, because even though the Patriots will visit MetLife stadium off of a 59-24 blowout win as the latest of their four straight victories, they’ll do so without their second-leading receiver, tight end Rob Gronkowski, who fractured his forearm on Sunday.
Long before the Jets could think about that however, they had to focus on overcoming the hole they were placed in after allowing a 13-play, 86-yard drive for a one-yard touchdown catch by wide receiver Brandon Gibson (three catches, nine yards, two touchdowns) from quarterback Sam Bradford (23-for-44, 170 yards, two touchdowns, one interception, three sacks) on the Rams’ first drive.
They did so by answering with a seven-play, 30-yard drive for a 51-yard, first-quarter field goal by kicker Nick Folk on the ensuing possession.
New York quickly had a chance for more points, but after safety Eric Smith intercepted Bradford to set the Jets’ offense up at the St. Louis 13-yard line, Folk had a 26-yard field goal blocked.
While the Rams’ offense continued to sputter, fumbling twice with four punts in between, on St. Louis’ next six possessions, the Jets’ scored on four of five drives spanning the middle two quarters, to take control of the game.
The Rams’ first fumble resulted in New York’s first lead, 10-7, on a 25-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Mark Sanchez (15-for-20, 175 yards, one touchdown, three sacks) to wide receiver Chad Schilens (four catches, 48 yards, one touchdown) with 4:31 left in the opening half.
Forcing a three-and-out, the Jets were able to beat the clock on a six-play, 33-yard drive to increase their lead to 13-7 on another 51-yard kick by Folk 57 seconds before halftime.
After a scoreless third quarter, the first two NFL touchdowns for rookie running back Bilal Powell 11 carries, 42 yards) put the game out of reach.
St. Louis’ second punt of the third quarter resulted in the game’s longest drive, a 12-play, 63-yard trip that took nearly seven minutes, beginning in the third quarter, and ending in the fourth, with Powell scoring on a five-yard touchdown run 44 seconds into the final period.
A fumble on the Rams’ next possession allowed the Jets to go just 38 yards on seven plays for an 11-yard touchdown run by Powell with 8:29 to go in the game.
Going 56 yards on seven plays, St. Louis scored on a two-yard touchdown pass from Bradford to Gibson, but a two-point conversion failed with 5:40 left, and the Rams never threatened again.
Even a home win over New England on Thursday would still keep the Jets two games behind the Patriots in the AFC East with five weeks to play, but it would keep them in the conference wild-card race with the likes of Pittsburgh (6-4), Indianapolis (6-4), and Cincinnati 5-5).
For those still awake enough to watch after Thanksgiving dinner, kickoff for the Jets and Patriots will be at 8:20 pm ET.