East Rutherford, N.J.– For the past three seasons the Jets have been known as notorious slow starters, today with the team needing a win over a far inferior opponent the Jets answered the bell by jumping out to an early lead and continuing to beat the Chiefs into submission. The Jets won the opening coin toss, Rex Ryan elected to receive the opening kickoff instead of deferring like usual, and the offense didn’t waste any time as they immediately marched down the field, going 77 yards in 11 plays to take an early 7-0 lead on a naked bootleg by Sanchez.
7-0 quickly became 7-3 after a punt by TJ Conley put the Chiefs in field-goal range, but that’s the closest the Chiefs would get the entire game. The Jets used a balanced offense (159 rushing yards and 155 passing yards) and a dominating defense to cruise to an easy victory. They ran the ball right down the throat of the Chiefs and Sanchez made the throws when needed, avoided turnovers and managed to rush for two touchdowns of his own to go with his two touchdown passes (first QB in Jets history to do that). The defense stifled the Chiefs rushing attack (65 yards on 21 carries) and really got after Tyler Palko, sacking him five times and keeping him running for his life on the other plays.
By half-time the Jets had a 28-3 lead and although they were forced to play out the second half, this game was never in doubt as the Jets coasted to a dominating victory. With this win the Jets move to 8-5 and their chances of getting that last Wildcard spot increase dramatically as the Saints and Texans were able to rally back to knock off the Titans and Bengals and give the Jets a one game lead over those two in the playoff race. The other two teams that went into this week tied at 7-5 are the Broncos and Raiders. With the way Raiders schedule lines up they will likely lose at least one more game, and even more likely two, which would make the Broncos record irrelevant because they will likely be the winners of the AFC West.
The one piece of bad news on the day comes in the form of a knee injury to Jim Leonhard. Leonhard made an interception of Palko with just over 11 minutes left in the first half and appeared to hurt his knee when he got tackled. Leonhard was carted off the field and ruled out immediately, but after the game Ryan said he had not received an update on his status, although he certainly didn’t sound very optimistic.
With just three games left in the season it appears the Jets have finally found their groove at just the right time. The entire defense played lights out and left the Chiefs absolutely befuddled and the offense avoided turnovers, capitalized in the red zone and more importantly continually got themselves in the red zone.
“We’re not shooting ourselves in the foot as much as we did early in the season and we’re capitalizing on the little mistakes that the other teams are making and it’s thus far been successful for us.” Santonio Holmes said.
“Yeah. I need to look at the film, but it was an extremely strong first half.” Matt Slauson said when asked if this was their best game of the year, “I know we didn’t do as good in the second half, but that was about the best first, first half a team can play.”
The ‘War Machine,’ Shonn Greene was on full display as he finished with 187 total yards (129 rushing on 24 carries and a TD and was also the team’s leading receiver with three catches for 58 yards). The Jets offense proved to be too powerful and balanced for the Chiefs to stop. They ran the ball, hit open receivers and used the Chiefs speed on defense to their advantage by executing the screen game to perfection.
After the game Greene was asked about the screen game, specifically Nick Mangold’s role in making it so successful, “Yeah, he (Mangold) executes them well. He does a great job with that, which is part of the reason me and LT had the success with the screens.”
After the Jets lost to the Broncos their playoff hopes were slim to none, but after reeling off three straight convincing wins the Jets appear to have finally clicked at exactly the right time and they wouldn’t have it any other way.
“All we want is one win on the schedule and that’s the next one.” Holmes said, “This one was today, we’ll take it. We’ll worry about the next one and (the way) we control our destiny from here is by winning every game from here on out.”
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