This is an odd week for the Jets and many fans. The franchise has played 10 times on Thursdays (six on Thanksgiving) and in the previous six times before Thursday night at New England, the Jets had lost and thus had a nice 10-day hiatus to stew over their defeat before taking it out on the next opponent.
Put another way, the 34-31 overtime win over the Patriots was the first time since the 1962 Titans won at Denver on Turkey Day that the Jets are resting up after such a short-week win.
So with nothing to do today but watch some NFL games and monitor the scoreboard for the Tennessee-Jacksonville doings, I wanted to bring you a few more thoughts from the Patriots game before we move on Monday into preparations to play the latter-day Titans at Nashville.
Just to make sure we don’t gloss over Jerricho Cotchery’s contributions to the second-quarter drive that enabled the Jets to open their 24-6 lead. How about those catches?
We have to pluralize the word because J-Co’s 46-yard one-handed, against-the-helmet-David Tyree-style grab — while being interfered with by Ellis Hobbs, let’s not forget — was one for the franchise highlight video. And right behind it, and coming right after it, was Cotchery’s catch and quick-thinking stretch to break the plane of the goal line to put the points on the board.
"It was pretty amazing," head coach Eric Mangini said on his day-after conference call, more about the 46-yarder although he surely appreciated the TD grab as well. "In our first game [vs. the Patriots], I don’t know if you guys remember he ended up getting called for offensive pass interference, but he had another amazing catch over the top.
"Jerricho has unbelievable hands and some of the things that he comes down with are amazing. He’s such an understated guy that you lose track of how gifted he is as a receiver."
So many other great catches in Jets history flood to mind in thinking about that reception — improbable snags by Wayne Chrebet, stretching fingertip grabs by Wesley Walker, traffic stoppers by Al Toon and Keyshawn Johnson, Namath hookups with Don Maynard and George Sauer, not to mention a few more catches by Cotchery and Laveranues Coles (most of them seeming to come against the Patriots. Hmmm …).
I have a few of my favorites but if any of you, in some "receptive" moments today and into the new week, want to share a snapshot of your favorite Jets catch, ship them my way and we’ll get them up on the site for others to reminisce about.
Lead Lost, Lead Regained
Speaking of the Jets’ 18-point second-quarter advantage at New England, that was the third-largest blown lead in franchise history in a game in which the Jets still went on to win.
The two largest almost-lost leads were both 21-0 fourth-quarter advantages.
In 1980 the Jets were caught at Shea Stadium by the Houston Oilers twice, at 21 and 28 (by Kenny Stabler’s third and then fourth TD passes of the fourth period), before prevailing on a Pat Leahy overtime field goal, 31-28.
And in 1991 at Foxboro Stadium, the Patriots caught the Jets at 21 before Ken O’Brien rescued the Green & White with his third TD pass of the game, this one to TE Trevor Matich, with 57 seconds left for the 28-21 win.
Like almost everything in life, we can look at this most recent hiccup from two different angles. It would have been much more impressive had the Jets doubled their lead to 48-12 instead of having to fight off 24-all and 31-all comebacks by the Pats. They enabled a huge victory to become too close for comfort.
But the Jets also never lost the lead. And they showed extreme grit in a hostile environment to twice regain the lead, against a nemesis that wasn’t going to die. And that’s a good thing.
"I think it showed a lot of heart and a lot of mettle on our part," said Jay Feely, the guy who supplied that second and final lead with his game-winning 34-yard field goal. "Having the lead the whole game and allowing them to come back, it could’ve been a heartbreaking loss. Now it’s something to build on."
As an aside, I would dispute the theory that this win came down to the luck of the coin flip that the Jets won to get the ball to start OT. That presumes the Jets defense would have yielded a Patriots scoring drive just has they had in the final 1:04 of regulation. But of course they would have played the Pats differently in OT than they did in that drive. And keep in mind that three of the five Pats possessions before that remarkable TD were ended in punts, two of them in three-and-outs.
But would I have preferred that this game not have come down to an OT coin flip to begin with? Yes, without question. But since it did, I’m with Feely on the "something to build on" approach.
And finally one last point on Dustin Keller’s contributions to the effort. Each game this no-longer-a-rookie TE is showing how valuable he is to Brett Favre, the offense and the Jets operation. Two numbers that may have been glossed over when considering Keller’s 16-yard reception on third-and-15 and eight catches for 87 yards are these:
Seven first downs made and five third downs converted.
For a TE, those are Tony Gonzalez/Antonio Gates numbers. Consider that in recent history
The last Jets receiver at any position to have more than seven receiving first downs in a game was Coles with eight at Minnesota in 2006. No Jets tight end has had as many as seven first downs in a game since 1991.
Same goes for five 3DCs in a game. Keller is only the third receiver since ’91 to get that many, and the first to do it in a winning effort. Here are the three:
|1996||WR Wayne Chrebet||at JAX||5||Jaguars, 21-17|
|2006||WR Laveranues Coles||vs. NE||5||Patriots, 24-17|
|2008||TE Dustin Keller||at NE||5||Jets, 34-31 (OT)|
I regret to say that my personal records in this area don’t go back farther than ’91, so I don’t have any of the great chain-moving games of Mickey Shuler, Walker, Toon, Maynard, Sauer, et al. Some day, some day.
And for the rest of this day, enjoy the rest of the NFL action from the Jets’ first-place perch in the AFC East. Check in this evening when Eric Allen will check in with his thoughts on the Titans-Jaguars game.
Tags: Don Maynard, Ellis Hobbs, Eric Mangini, George Sauer, Jerricho Cotchery, Keyshawn Johnson, Laveranues Coles, New England Patriots, Wayne Chrebet
Posted in Randy Lange | 64 Comments »