Esposito: Jets in Driver’s Seat

(Neil Miller/Sportsday Wire)

This time, the Super Coach outsmarted himself.

After another amazing Tom Brady comeback at Met Life on Sunday, which brought the Patriots back from a 20-13 deficit with just two minutes in the game against the Jets, Coach Bill Belichick let the clock run out with the score tied and opted for another Brady overtime miracle.

Belichick’s Super Confidence boldly chose to kick the ball to the Jets even after winning the OT coin toss.

Bad move, Bill.

Jets fans were delighted with the call.

From their own 20, Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick led a five-play drive which resulted in a six-yard touchdown pass to Eric Decker for the W, which now puts the Jets in the fast lane to the playoffs and a 10-5 record. Win next week in Buffalo, and they’re in, thanks to a Pittsburgh loss to the Ravens while the Jets were headed to overtime.

In the shotgun on each play, not even Penn & Teller showed as much slight of hand as FitzMagic exhibited on the drive, first with a two-yard burst from Chris Ivory. Fitz then hit Quincy Enunwa in the left flat which netted 48 yards. Ivory went off right tackle for four yards. Brandon Marshall brought it down to the six with a brilliant catch for 20 yards. The clincher went to Decker to the right post.

Game. Goodnight, Bill. Goodnight, Tom. See you in the playoffs.

Decker celebrated the win with a Met Life “leap,” mimicking the Packers’ habits of jumping into the stands after each touchdown catch.

“Those are the moments you cherish and remember,” Decker said after the game. “It’s never really the stats you remember. It’s those moments, your teammates in the locker room, the excitement. The way we’ve been playing the past five weeks is what it’s all about.”

Many Jets, and the 78,160 in attendance, were surprised Belichick chose to kick off in overtime.

“Obviously, they had a plan for what they wanted to do,” Decker said. “We knew once we received the football in overtime we had to take care of business on that drive. All the guys stepped up and made great plays. It was a fun way to end the game.”

As he is wont do, Belichick summed up his decision in just a few words. “I thought that was the best thing to do.”

Thanks for explaining that one, coach.

Sheldon Richardson actually did a better job of getting inside the Pats’ call.

“They thought they had our number,” No. 91 said afterward – who nailed Brady for one of the two sacks the Jets rang up. “I’m pretty sure they thought they could stop us and then drive down for a field goal. It was a great team win.”

Overtime rules dictate each team must possess the ball at least once. Unless…the first team scores a touchdown. If it’s just a field goal, the other team then has the ability to tie it again with another field goal in the scheduled 15 minute overtime period. And then it’s first points win. Or if both teams have at least one possession, first points wins.

All of that was not necessary on Sunday. Now the Jets can just focus on beating the Bills up in Buffalo next Sunday and they’re in regardless of what any other AFC team does.

They can’t wait.

“We have to work hard this week and go to Buffalo with a million different story lines up there,” Fitzpatrick anticipated. “With me, Chan Gailey, and Rex up there, I’m excited that that we do control our own destiny. But we have to take care of business.”

Fitzpatrick, Decker, and Marshall have been locked in as pitcher and catchers all season, and after an 11-catch, three-TD performance, the two wideouts continue to rank first amongst NFL tandems in receptions with 176 and 24 touchdowns.

Coach Todd Bowles recognized how they really clicked in overtime. Just like they’ve been doing all along.

“They’ve been doing that the past couple of weeks,” Bowles expressed in his post-game presser. “They showed poise. That’s growth on their part. A good team effort. Fitz has been playing like that for a while now.”

Add Quincy Enunwa to the mix. The wide receiver dropped a sure thing lengthy pass earlier in the fourth quarter, but made up for it in that last drive.

“Quincy is just a game-changer in terms of the stuff he does,” Fitz said. On his catch in overtime, “They were playing off coverage on him and pressed outside. Quincy was able to get to the flat and you saw his strength and athleticism on that play as he took off down the sideline. We missed that one at the end of regulation, and he knew he was just going to have to make a play and he did.”

Earlier in the game, Fitzpatrick was overthrowing receivers often. he made up for it when it counted.

“The one to Deck was just a great route by Eric,” Fitz said about the gamer. “I missed him on a few throws but then he makes the biggest catch of the night.”

Fitz’s locked in with Marshall like they’ve been playing for decades.

“It’s just Brandon’s football IQ. His passion for the game, everything. He came to me and said, ‘Hey, there’s a particular look. If we get it, let’s run this route.’ I’m gping out there to signal it to him. And he’s already signaling it to me. So we’re on the same page out there, and that’s 100% on him with his film study, and me having the relationship with him to trust what he sees. I just threw it up to make a play and he made a great play.”

Darrelle Revis also made a great play, picking off a Brady throw in the first half which led to a field goal. Guess all those weekday practices last year as a member of the Pats paid off.

“It was a great (defensive) call by Coach (Bowles)” Revis said. The defensive line was able to get a lot of pressure on Brady. We wanted to force him to make a decision he didn’t want to make. I think we did a good job going against a Hall of Fame quarterback.”

On the stat sheet, Brady was 22-31 for 231 yards and one TD, sacked twice, and hassled a million times for a QB rating of 89.6. Not a Brady-like afternoon, thanks to a strong D game plan.

In fact, the first Patriots touchdown came as a result of the defense, not Brady.

Fitzpatrick’s arm was slapped on an attempted pass in the third quarter, which was labeled a sack by New England’s Jabaal Sheard. The fumble was then picked up Jamie Collins and run in for a score.

Fitz ended up going 26-41 for 296 yards, three TDs, no picks, and a 109.4 rating. His third touchdown pass now ties him with Vinny Testaverde for a Jets team record of 29 TD passes in a season. Testaverde enjoyed that mark in 1998, and now Fitz has one more week, and the Buffalo Bills on his radar to surpass that mark.

It’s time to shuffle off to Buffalo and ride that Bison into the playoffs.

JETS NOTES: Former Jet Mo Lewis was the “Pilot” of the game.
Seen at the game – actresses Michele Monaghan and Christina Ricci. This was the 111th game between the Jets and Pats, a rivalry that dates back to the AFL and 1960. The Pats held a 57-52 advantage going in and a here-game win streak in the series. The last Jets win against New England came in 2013, a 30-27 overtime victory at Met Life.
Earlier in the week, Brandon Marshall was selected to play in his sixth Pro Bowl Game. Darrelle Revis was selected to the Pro Bowl for his seventh time. And Muhammad Wilkerson will be making his first trip to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl.

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