Jets 30 Texans 27

After a game such as this one, the person tasked with providing a summarization must answer an immediate question: Where to begin?

Well, Santonio Holmes played hero once more.

 Moments such as these are special, because they transcend, meaning they have no definitive beginning or end. Holmes put the Jets ahead on this particular afternoon, but the overall effect was incredibly similar to other spectacular moments lodged in the collective unconscious of sports fanatics.

This is, after all, why games are played. Holmes joined a pantheon again today, this accomplishment comparatively trivial when compared against the magnitude of a Super Bowl clinching touchdown catch. Hell, it’s basically an encore from last week.

WR Braylon Edwards catches a bomb from QB Mark Sanchez setting up a TD pass to WR Santonio Holmes in the final seconds as the Jets beat the Texans 30 -27 (JetsInsider.com Photo)

At the moment though, in that one second span separating uncertainty and total delirium, these snapshots couldn’t be truly compared. All the memories become one. The game, the league, the situation, all simply stage setting for something more.

It all becomes a blur, a quick flash wave, an instantaneous avalanche. The comebacks, Brian Cushing forcing a fumble, Holmes breaking loose on a slant for a foreshadowing score, Mark Sanchez’s icy excellence and Houston’s defiance, each event is encapsulated into one instant of expression. Dreams, careers, game plans and press conferences, properly explained. “Personally, I had the lap band surgery, so I feel better about it,” said Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan afterward, alluding to his team’s penchant for high stress affairs. “I can already see the headlines –‘Far From Great.’ Who cares? We won.”

 There were no winners or losers as Holmes tiptoed the line. Only an explanation for why people care so much. The details would be provided when everyone regained their senses. Ironic, though, that sense isn’t why football exists.

 And the details, they were many. It appeared the Texans’ had achieved something special. They shut down the Jets’ running game, a plot pivot through which their painful defeat would ultimately be written, dramatically instead of mundanely. Because had the Jets been able to scrounge even a decent day rushing, this may have been a runaway. Mark Sanchez was dropping bombs on helpless Texans’ defenders, taking advantage of the ample talents belonging to Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes, ruthlessly exploiting Houston’s most obvious weakness. All the Jets really needed was a semblance of clock control, one run aided jaunt downfield in the second half, for their opponent to be completely worn down and defeated.

The Texans, however, maintained their impressive effectiveness against both LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene. They pretty much forced Sanchez to win the game by himself, a near impossibility when matched against another offensive unit capable of catching fire. Even so, the Jets looked like they might cruise. It was an illusion, but a convincing one.

After a very brief period of concern, in the second quarter, where their 3-0 advantage turned into a 7-3 deficit, Sanchez and the Jets began endeavoring in aerial artistry. Beginning with ten minutes and seventeen seconds remaining in the quarter, New York started slinging in earnest, probably supposing their temporarily stalled run-game would not have to be completely abandoned.

Sanchez hit Patrick Turner for a twenty one yard gain when faced with the tenuous prospect of a 2nd and 23. Turner was playing in his first game with the Jets, and his reception moved them to the Houston thirty nine. The drive was capped by four yard Braylon Edwards touchdown grab, as he easily beat single coverage on a shallow route within the paint. At this point it became clear that Houston’s deficiencies in the area of pass defense would not be corrected in these sixty minutes.

Sensibly, Sanchez’s onslaught continued. While dropping back to pass on the next drive, he found himself the victim of roughing, moving the New York to Houston’s sixteen. The Jets would settle for a field goal on this drive, Houston’s woeful secondary no doubt receiving much needed assistance from the close confines of a short field. They wouldn’t benefit when it counted most.

The score remained 13-7 though the half. The Jets moved the ball again on their first possession of the third quarter, but Nick Folk barely missed a 53 yard field goal, beneath the crossbar. Rex Ryan’s defense was excelling, rebounding from a disappointing first quarter to pitch shutout ball in the second. Matt Schaub and company seemed on the verge of setting the tempo, but the home team began clamping down. They were three and out on their initial second half drive. And when the Jets scoffed at the sheer inconvenience of regaining possession from their own eight, parlaying the less than ideal circumstances into seven points, on the metaphorical wings of Santonio Holmes [whose signature celebration was imitated by a jubilant Mark Sanchez] one would certainly be reasonable to believe the Jet dramatics on hold, at least until Thanksgiving. Weren’t they due for an easy ride, anyway? How many more defibrillator sponsored games could there be?

Most reassuring was the drive’s balance. Greene had legitimately contributed. A blowout was in the offing. The Texans responded negatively to the adversity, again going three and out. It was time for New York to do some salting. But a pivotal play occurred immediately thereafter, with an easy win practically in grasp.

Tomlinson, assuming running back duties, was stuffed on a third and one. With the third quarter waning, there would be no clock killing. The Texans’ defense would return to the sidelines, having made a stop, manufacturing positive momentum when they were primed to be demoralized. A Championship Caliber rushing attack cues up the laugh track. But Houston now had a shot. And they promptly fumbled it away. Chronically underrated playmaker Mike DeVito stripped Arian Foster, Jim Leonhard corralling the recovery.  The Jets took over at Houston’s twenty two. What their running game could not quite accomplish, Houston had offered on a silver platter. The ensuing field goal, as the final quarter began, may have been a letdown, but with the Jets’ defense playing at such a high level, the Texans’ stand appeared a footnote.  

And then the fun began.

 The Texans’ incredible offense, dormant for the duration of two quarters, awoke. They seized on a thirty one yard completion from Schaub to tight end Joel Dreessen , eventually tallying three points on a thirty eight yard field goal. The fourth quarter was far from over. The Jets had not driven in a proverbial stake, instead lightly chipping the ventricles. They now had work to finish. It began with promise. Tomlinson made an eight yard catch. He ran for four yards; then scampered for 21 on another reception. Shonn Greene lurched forward for five. Were the ground and pound ghosts being stirred from a mysterious slumber? The Jets ran it again, predictably, attempting to reorient themselves to a familiar philosophy. They were making progress, achingly close to icing the contest, at the Texans’ 41. Greene met resistance, spinning free, slamming directly into Brian Cushing, Houston’s halfback detonator. The hit caused Greene to fumble. The loose ball was recovered by Kevin Bentley, who would later grab a deflected interception. “On that play, there was some miscommunication,” Greene later explained. “Mark {Sanchez} had killed the play {and} I didn’t get the kill {call]. I didn’t get the kill, so it kind of was an off-play. I was running something different and Mark was running something different.”

On the Texans’ first proceeding offensive play, Schaub hit Dreessen for a 43 yard touchdown. Before catching the pass, Dreessen had been leisurely exploring wide open spaces downfield, the benefactor of blown coverage. Suddenly, it was Jets 23, Texans 17.

No more work to be done, just a crisis to navigate.

 The Texans had shockingly morphed into a freight train full of momentum, culling hope from a cauldron. They were a road team in a hostile environment witnessing, possibly, the denouement of a massively disappointing season. It was turning around, quickly, violently, indisputably.

New York tried halting the tide. Mark Sanchez scrambled for a first down. The Jets ran three more plays and had to punt. In a situation screaming for run plays, Sanchez handed off twice. Tomlinson notched a single yard after the scramble, and New York tried a different tact. They had to ask their defense to stop the bleeding, after two incomplete passes.

The Texans were now completely fulfilling their promise, even if for one single quarter. Here was David Anderson scoring thirty five yards. There was Andre Johnson pulling down a twenty yard catch. Matt Schaub delivering, Arian Foster heroically stretching the ball over the goal-line, Rackers drilling the extra point… it was all happening for Houston, a dream sequence. They led 24-23. And the fantasy continued, script totally flipped, Houston seemingly securing a win with an interception of Sanchez, the aforementioned Bentley pick.

No longer was there work to do, for the Jets, or a crisis to navigate… now a disaster now had to be overcome.

The defense finally affixed a tourniquet, holding Houston to a field goal. In the process two timeouts were burnt, and the Texans assumed a commanding 27-23 lead with fifty five seconds left. Their sideline was jubilant. And could they be blamed? One week after losing a mind bending, heart breaking game to the Jaguars, beaten by a prayer, they were about to triumph in a dramatic, faith affirming fashion.  “It’s an emotional game by nature,” said Schaub. “{It was} tough sledding for three quarters, and in the fourth quarter they were able to point some points on the board and get back in the game. Our defense gave us an opportunity to extend that lead, and we did. It’s an emotional game. It could’ve gone both ways.”

The Jets were staring at oblivion. Sanchez found Tomlinson for a five yard gain. Tomlinson, displaying his multifaceted adeptness, again provided his valuable pass receiving safety valve services, chewing up another nineteen yards of field. His second consecutive catch dragged the Jets to Houston’s forty eight. Sanchez spiked the ball, before finding Braylon Edwards, inexplicably open down the sideline for forty two, game changing, crowd invigorating, secondary shaming yards. “In the Cover Two I’m not the first option, but the safety cheated to the slot and I was there,” said Edwards.

 Houston called a timeout, delaying what was now inevitable. They would be the foil, once more, pawns of the football gods. Sanchez lofted a perfect pass over Glover Quinn, the unlucky Hail Mary tipper. Holmes made the catch, dragging his feet in the corner of the end-zone, in bounds. “He finds a way to get open,” Mark Sanchez would say later of Holmes. “He runs his routes really well and he’s always positive. He doesn’t say much, but when he does, it’s positive. The last drive, we’re going down, no timeouts left, less than one minute and he says, “Alright, let’s get it.” Holmes was equally appreciative of his quarterback. “I am absolutely amazed with the way [Sanchez] has been playing,” said the former Super Bowl MVP. “The way he stays in for film study. You heard him talk about film study, that’s all he talks about. When he’s supposed to be the quarterback in the huddle calling the next play, he’s running up and down the field in practice, getting on me, Braylon {Edwards} or whoever he is throwing the ball to.”

 The scoreboard said 29-27. The crowd said football, and its players, had won again. Reality would be put on hold, but not forever. “Words can’t describe it,” Andre Johnson would say later, “I really don’t know what to say.”

 ………………………………………………….

There was no immediate update on the injury suffered by Damien Woody.

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