You know those times when you accomplish something big, but maybe you had some assistance or some outside force greatly contributed to your success, making your victory feel not as good as it should? Yeah, this is not one of those moments.
On a call of unsportsmanlike conduct for pushing his own teammate into the line, New England’s Chris Jones gave the Jets an opportunity to win the game that they did not pass up. I have no illusions that if the shoe were on the other foot, if the Jets got called for some penalty no one had ever heard of, directly leading to a Patriots win, the season would feel like it was over and there would be no end to my anguish. I also have no illusions that if that were the case, this play would not even be an issue to anyone outside of the Jets faithful. I can see Merril Hoge or whoever right now saying, “Look, the Jets are a very inconsistent team. Even without this penalty, I’m not sure they even win, so it’s not even a big deal. Let’s talk instead about Tom Brady leading this team and Bill Belichick and the Patriot Way of getting things done and BLAH BLAH BLAH.” This is only a semi-big deal because the circus that is Jets beat the gold standard Patriots, whose entire dynasty is derived from taking advantage of an obscure call no one had ever heard of. Let the underdog have one for once, because really, they earned it.
From the start, it seemed like the Jets were out to prove something. Their first drive sounded amazing, as me and my friends sat in New York City traffic, looked for New York City parking and listened on the radio. And when I read on the Yahoo! Sports app as we walked to our destination that they ended up scoring, I’m not going to lie, I busted a quick dance move.
By the time I arrived at my destination though, things started to look dire. As I walked in, the Patriots were capping off their Gronk and Goal (a situation in which every play seems to be a big pass to Rob Gronkowski,) with a touchdown. Then on the next Jets possession, after making some progress, Geno Smith threw an interception that got returned for a Patriots touchdown. New England would drive all the way down the field, with some help from penalties, for another touchdown, with the Jets settling for a field goal to make the score 21-10 at the half. Not exactly the kind of play that inspires hope in your bitter fan heart.
Thank football god then for Antonio Allen. Allen, a seventh round pick, drew the unenviable (by literally everyone) task of having to cover Rob Gronkowski, who is a freak in many respects, but especially in regards to catching a football. Yet, with Allen on him… well he still amassed 114 receiving yards, but it took eight receptions on seventeen (SEVENTEEN) targets for him to get there. And most importantly, he did not score. I’m sure if Gronk had hauled in that one one-handed catch late in the game, which certainly looked like it was destined for six points, I’d be spending hundreds of dollars on Antonio Allen jerseys just to burn them instead of praising the guy. But the fact is, he played great, not to mention that he made the most important play of game.
Tom Brady must have really not wanted the ball, because 30 seconds into the half, a play after he was sacked and fumbled, he threw that ball to Antonio Allen, who took it the requisite 27 yards for a touchdown. Without that interception, New York never gets back in this game, Geno Smith doesn’t run one in later in the quarter, we don’t go to overtime and we don’t even worry about the intricacies of the NFL rule book, because everyone is depressed and cursing the Patriots. Instead, it’s Nick Folk kicking yet another field goal and it’s New England fans lamenting the Jets catching a break against their team, for once. As good as this win feels however, (and in the words of Bart Scott, “FEELS GREAT!”) it’s time to start looking forward to this week’s trip to Cincinnati.
Looking forward to this week’s trip to Cincinnati: New York Jets (4-3) @ Cincinnati Bengals (5-2)
Cincinnati is a team with a great defense and one true offensive weapon in A.J. Green. The rest is really a toss up from week to week, as far as I can tell. Andy Dalton always seems to be throwing at least one interception a game and still hasn’t solidified himself as a premier starting quarterback going forward. The Jet run defense should have no problem with the tandem of BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Giovanni Bernard. I’m still not even convinced Marvin Lewis, who somehow managed to stick around as head coach through Cincinnati’s terrible to where they are now on the upswing, is a good head coach. But, that 5-2 record does not lie, even if those wins are coming at an average margin of about 11 points. The Bengals want to beat their opponents up as much as they can. If it turns into a defensive struggle, the Jets may have their work cut out for them in this one.
– I can’t really say enough about this defense, which held the Patriots to under 300 yards of total offense and allowed the mighty Tom Brady to complete exactly zero touchdown passes. On, Wilkerson! On, Richardson! On, Coples! On, Davis! On, everyone!
– A big week for Chris Ivory who carried the ball 34 times for 104 yards and is apparently now the featured back. Bilal Powell, never forget.
– One thing the Jets need to stop doing is handing it off to fullback Tommy Bohanon. Nothing against the guy, but a handoff to the fullback on a play that isn’t a one or two yards to go situation is a waste of a play in my eyes.
– Through everything that has happened during his tenure, I’m still glad Rex Ryan isn’t here to kiss Belichick’s rings.
– Right now, the New York Jets sit at 4-3, already matching the win total I predicted they would reach this year. Barring a catastrophic meltdown (knock on all the wood,) they should win at least a couple more. Though wildly inconsistent and only winning on odd numbered weeks (which I guess is consistent in some weird way,) they have exceeded my and probably everyone else’s expectations. I can almost feel the beginning twinge of hope for the future of this team. Strange times.