The New York Jets were in damage control mode on Sunday, easily handling the Rams en route to a 27 – 13 win. Mark Sanchez completed 75% of his passes, Bilal Powell scored 2 touchdowns and the defense forced 3 turnovers. Although the Rams are in the midst of a losing season at 3 – 6 – 1, they did have the Jets on their heels early in the game.
The opening drive was a nightmare for Rex Ryan and co., conceding a touchdown to former Jets offensive coordinator and current Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. After allowing the opening touchdown, the defense played stout football the rest of the way, holding the Rams to 281 total yards and one more touchdown late in the 4th quarter. The defense also forced 3 turnovers, a strip sack by Mohammad Wilkerson that was recovered by Bart Scott, an interception by Eric Smith and a fumble recovered by Garrett McIntyre. The defense only managed 1 sack on Rams QB Sam Bradford, but the pressure was consistent, combined with Bradford making erratic passes all day. Bradford went 23 – 44 and had 170 yards, with a rating of 67.4. Rex Ryan and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine were prepared for Schottenheimer’s bottom level offense and prevailed in a must win for the franchise. The Rams entered the game 21st in passing yards and 12th in rushing yards in the NFL.
The offense had a good game overall, but looked lost early. Rams defensive end Chris Long was on pace for a monstrous day, getting 2 sacks on Austin Howard early in the game, but Sparano’s offensive line did a great job protecting Sanchez the rest of the day.
The Sanchez-led offense benefitted greatly from turnovers and had solid field position to start multiple drives. The Jets scored 14 points off of 3 turnovers on the day. Sanchez went 15 – 20 for 178 yards and a touchdown. The running game was a combined effort with Shonn Greene rushing 18 times for 64 yards and Bilal Powell rushing 11 times for 42 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Tony Sparano did a great job of adjusting the offense to play to the Rams weaknesses, going with draw plays on key 3rd down situations in the red zone. Both plays went for touchdowns running back Bilal Powell. Powell also had a crucial 3rd down screen pass that provided a key 1st down that led to Powell’s 2nd touchdown 2 plays later. Sparano also had to mix and match the receiver groupings with Jeremy Kerley being limited due to injuries, and Stephen Hill still going through rookie growing pains. Hill had a key drop early in the game and had his 4th game of the season where he was held without a catch. Clyde Gates played the most snaps at receiver, catching 1 passfor 10 yards on 2 targets. Chaz Schilens had the biggest day of any receiver, catching 4 of 5 targets for 48 yards and akey touchdown. Sanchez hooked up with Schilens on a 25 yard hook and go route that left him open in the right side of the end zone to put the Jets up 10 – 7, a lead they would not surrender.
Mike Westhoff must be miserable this year, because his unit allowed a blocked punt, a kickoff return for a touchdown that was called back due to a holding penalty. The penalty call was a gift to the Jets, and it kept the Rams from entering the half up 14 – 13. Tim Tebow went for his 4th faked punt on the season and the Rams special teams unit, aka their starting front 7, destroyed the play to put the Rams at mid field. Tebow was 3 – 3 entering the game on fake punts. The Jets also lead the league in fake punt attempts this season. Fortunate for Westhoff, the defense and refs showed up to save his day.
The Jets played opportunistic, mistake free football. For Rex and co. to stay competitive the rest of the season, winning the turnover battle will be vital. The Jets face the New England Patriots on Thursday, Thanksgiving night, in what will be another must win situation. Stay tuned for my 10 game analysis later this week.