Prior to yesterday’s game against the Oakland Raiders, the New York Jets had only lost two of their previous six games in the friendly confines of MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Last week’s 23-3 loss against the Miami Dolphins and a Week 6 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers (19-6) were the only blemishes to their home record. With near-freezing temperatures at kickoff, and the Raiders down two of their top runners (Darren McFadden and Rashad Jennings), the game seemed to play into the hands of one of the top-ranked defenses against the run. Even though little-known RB Marcel Reece went for 123 yards on 19 carries, and undrafted-free agent QB Matt McGloin managed 245 yards passing and 2TDs, the Jets won the contest 37-27.
Geno Smith had completed only 21 of his 55 passes in his last three games, prompting questions of his ability, and sparking some Matt Simms conversation. Doubters will continue to opine for a replacement, but Geno went 16 of 25 for 219 yards, 1TD and 1 awful INT. Matt Simms played the second half of the team’s loss last week to Miami, and I believed Geno was on an equally as quick a hook this Sunday. Geno’s most spectacular accomplishment after the way he’s been playing… taking every snap against the Raiders.
As Bob Wischusen has said many times during his radio calls on ESPN-New York 98.7FM, and as he’s tweeted me as well, “(Chris Ivory) runs angry!” Ivory brought Wischusen’s words to life again this week on his 15-yard TD rush, while carrying the ball 18 times for 76 yards on the day. Bilal Powell chipped in a much-needed 11-yard burst as he went 8 rushes for 14 yards. Geno Smith uncharacteristically chipped in 50 rushing yards and a TD on the ground, taking advantage of the openings the defense gave him. HC Rex Ryan thought “Geno did a tremendous job of finding those lanes.”
Jeremy Kerley made his way back into the lineup after being held out while recovering from a dislocated elbow, and Geno took full-advantage of having the team’s leading receiver back. Kerley tallied 4 catches for 41 yards and an athletic TD grab. Kellen Winslow Jr. and Santonio Holmes made 3 catches, while David Nelson was able to grab 4 Geno Smith passes. Noticeably absent from the stat sheet is 2012 2nd round draft pick and 2013 disappointment Stephen Hill, who was a healthy scratch on Sunday.
K Nick Folk went 3 for 3 on FGs, with a long of 51 yards, while Antonio Allen blocked a punt and recovered it in the endzone for a TD, giving the special teams a victory on the day overall. It takes three phases, and with Josh Cribbs out for the year, the special teams suffered a significant loss. For one week, his absence went unnoticed as RB Darius Reynaud (3 KO returns) and RB Alex Green (1 KO return) filled in nicely.
Even though Ed Reed grabbed his first INT in green and white, Antonio Cromartie would be a significant loss for the secondary. Cro’s going through the league’s mandated concussion protocol, and Rex calls him “a game time decision” for next week’s matchup with the Panthers. Dee Milliner held up his end of the bargain against the Raiders, and in Rex’s opinion, “didn’t give up any passes this week.”
We’ve made a lot of the front three, and their ability to get to the quarterback. Mo Wilkerson, Damon Harrison and Sheldon Richardson have made life in the pocket very difficult for opponents this season, but let’s not forget to include LBs Calvin Pace, David Harris, Demario Davis, and Quinton Coples in what I like to call The Perfect Swarm! Wilkerson leads the team with 10 sacks, but Pace is second on the Jets with 8 sacks. Coples has 3 sacks and a forced fumble, even though he missed the first few weeks recovering from a leg injury. Harris leads the team with 106 tackles, and Demario Davis has been one of the most solid tacklers of the four LBs. The frontline has provided effective pressure in 2013, but the LBs have helped make Gang Green a formidable team to try and run on.
After the game ended, snow fell like confetti from the sky on those leaving the stadium. You could hear the joyous cheers from revelers filling the stairways as enthusiastic fans made their way through exits and past post-game tailgaters. If Sunday’s game was a late kickoff, they would’ve been playing in the snow like many of the games were on Sunday. To that, Rex said “I would’ve signed up for it, especially against a team from the west coast.” Some fear a snowy Super bowl, which is a distinct possibility with the game being played in early February at MetLife. The 6-7 Jets can’t think of Super bowl, they can barely think of playoffs. They’ll take being in the hunt, even by the slimmest of margins, as they leave the friendly confines and make their way south to play Cam Newton and the 9-4 Carolina Panthers.
-Joseph Haas Editor, HCoftheNYJ.com