So, if you would have told me three weeks ago that the Jets would start the season 3-0, I would have thought you were crazy. So I guess we're all a little crazy right now. The New York Jets have gotten off to a 3-0 start by beating the high powered offense of the Texans. The team they never could seem to beat in the Patriots. And a team that finished 13-3 a year ago with the best record in the AFC, the Titans. The Jets are doing it on both sides of the ball, while letting their quarterback learn on the fly.
QB Mark Sanchez led the Jets out of the gates on Sunday in a hurry. He led the Jets on a 10 play 73 yard scoring drive which was capped off by Sanchez' 14 yard touchdown run. New York opened up the passing game on the opening drive going into a no-huddle offense right off the bat. He was able to hit WR Jerricho Cotchery and TE Dustin Keller for a few long passes while getting down to the Titans 14 yard line. Then on 3rd and 10 from the Tennessee 14, Sanchez took off and plowed his way into the end zone for the Jets first score of the day.
After recovering a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, Sanchez led the Jets on another scoring drive, capping it off with a 2 yard touchdown to TE Ben Hartsock. Before the Titans offense even took the field, the Jets were up 14-0. After a lackluster performance by the offense in the 2nd and 3rd quarters, New York was able to capitalize on another Titans turnover. Sanchez hit Cotchery for a 6 yard touchdown late in the 3rd quarter. Overall on the afternoon, Sanchez was 17-30 for 171 yards, throwing for two touchdowns while running for another. He did have one interception and one fumble, but in the end he protected the ball when he needed to and was able to help the Jets to another victory.
Jerricho Cotchery is emerging as a reliable number one receiver in the NFL. Not many thought he could be a number one, but he is proving the doubters wrong in a hurry. On Sunday, he reeled in 8 catches for 108 yards and a touchdown. Dustin Keller had 2 receptions for 24 yards. They had the bulk of the Jets receiving yards.
The Jets running game was never able to get going against a very good Titans defensive line. RB Thomas Jones was only able to rack up 20 yards on 14 carries. His lowest total yards in 2 seasons. Leon Washington was a little more sucessful, getting 46 yards on 12 carries. Tennessee was able to clog up the middle forcing Sanchez to beat them through the air. Sanchez did not light it up against the Titans pass defense, which was the worst ranked group in the NFL coming into the game. He did however do enough to win.
The Jets defense looked suspect in the 1st half of the game. They stayed back in coverage early in the game letting Titans QB Kerry Collins get comfortable in the pocket. Trailing 14-0, Collins was able to bring the Titans back into the game by scoring on 3 of their 5 possessions. Collins and the Titans completely dominated the Jets in the 2nd quarter. They scored 10 points and out gained the Jets on offense 157 to -3. Collins kept the ball out of the Jets hands and got the Titans to within 14-10.
Titans RB Chris Johnson was able to help out the offense by running for 97 yards on 22 carries. The Jets were not going to be able to stop Johnson, but they had to keep him in check. He gained the yards but did not find the end zone. RB LenDale White was able to do that in the 2nd quarter. He was the first player to score an offensive touchdown against the Jets defense this season. His score pulled Tennessee to within 14-7. In the end, the Jets rush defense gave up 127 yards on the ground. Not their best performance, but the made the stops when it counted.
The Jets secondary did not allow a receiver to top the 59 yard receiving mark in the game. Collins was able to dink and dunk to WR's Kenny Britt and Justin Gage, as well as TE Alge Crumpler. But he was never able to get the big play downfield.
The defense stepped up huge in the 4th quarter. They were able to hold Collins to 0-13 over his last 13 pass attempts. Jets LB David Harris was the star of the game with his defensive play in the 4th quarter. On Tennessee's 2nd to last possession of the game, Harris was able to stop a Titans drive with an interception. Then on their last possession, Harris had an sack on Collins for -8 yards to help preserve the Jets 24-17 win. He gets the defensive game ball in this one.
It was not a pretty win for the Jets but it was still a win. The defense showed some soft spots in the 2nd and 3rd quarters, but really stepped it up when it counted in the 4th quarter. The really started bringing the blitz in the 4th quarter, keeping Collins and the Titans offense guessing. Good teams find ways to win when they are down and thats what the Jets did on Sunday. The jumped out to a quick lead, lost it, regained it and held strong for the win.
So the Jets stand at 3-0 on the season, leading the AFC East by a game over the Patriots. The road does not get any easier this week with a trip down to New Orleans to play the high powered offense of the Saints. But with the way Rex Ryan has this team believing they can win every game, don't be surprised if the Jets are standing at 4-0 next Monday.