The LP Field visitors’ locker room is laid such that there are six lockers alongside each other on one wall. The Jets’ equipment people assigned those six lockers to offensive linemen, and five of them to the five OL starters, in order from left to right: D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Alan Faneca, Nick Mangold, Brandon Moore, Damien Woody.
And those five stood in front of those lockers after the Jets’ marvelous, satisfying 34-13 rout of the previously undefeated Titans at Tennessee, centurions to the last as they became one of the centers of attention for the postgame media horde.
This Jets victory was about the entire team, offense, defense and specialists, coaches and players, coming together to secure another eye-popping, jaw-dropping victory to improve to 8-3 and thrust their names into the ring of legitimate AFC playoff contenders.
But this story is about the O-line, rebuilt by Mike Tannenbaum and his staff, coached up by Eric Mangini and his staff, and inspired to new heights by themselves.
"Chemistry," explained RT Damien Woody.
"Enough’s not being said about the maturity level of this team," countered RG Brandon Moore.
Operating on several fronts, the line had its best day yet in helping these Jets make their latest bold step forward.
Led by center Nick Mangold’s masterful game going up against formidable DT Albert Haynesworth, they were a major reason for the avalanche of favorable numbers: 28 first downs, 192 rushing yards, 7-for-13 on third-down conversions, two sacks of Brett Favre (one of them a late zero-yarder), and an unconscionable 40:30 in possession time, all of which led to the offense hanging 34 points on what had been (but is no longer) the No. 1 scoring defense in the NFL.
And all of this achieved on the road in as hostile an environment as they come.
"As far as places I’ve played, and I’ve played here at times," pondered LG Alan Faneca, "you’d walk away saying this is the loudest place in the NFL. They have very smart fans here. They’re capable of making lots of noise. And I think us, by coming out and starting hot a little bit, maybe didn’t let them get ramped up."
That was the first specific contribution by the line, the first offensive drive of the game in which they pass-blocked flawlessly for Favre as he opened throwing, going 6-for-6, including the last completion, the 10-yard screen to Thomas Jones.
"That’s big, that’s big," said Woody of the Jets’ third consecutive first-drive TD and sixth straight first-drive score. "That’s something that we want to do — set the tone.
Another Oh!-line moment came late in the third, when the Jets were still clinging to a 10-point lead and desperately wanting to make it 17 on third-and-goal from the Titans 2. Head coach Eric Mangini loved the contributions of Favre and Laveranues Coles to that 2-yard pass into a small window.
"And the offensive line —they held up a long time on that play to give them the opportunity to make that play," said the coach.
About seven minutes of clock time after that, Leon Washington was off to the races with a 61-yard touchdown run, equaling the fourth-longest in franchise history.
"It was pretty hard early on. A lot of yards were hard to come by," Washington said. "But we kind of wore ‘em down in the third and fourth quarters. On that play, Damien and Brandon did a real good job of sealing the backside. I hit the hole one-on-one with the safety. That’s what I’m paid to do, make big plays like that. But I did the easy part. The hole was wide open."
Washington was right about the second-half holes. The Jets wound up with a rarity — a 100-yard rushing quarter — as they rolled up 105 yards in the fourth quarter, more than the previous three quarters combined. Here are the four 100-yard rushing quarters since 1998:
|1998||vs. IND||2nd||129||Jets, 44-6|
|1999||at OAK||3rd||117||Raiders, 24-23|
|2004||vs. MIA||3rd||103||Jets, 41-14|
|2008||at TEN||4th||105||Jets, 34-13|
That kind of domination, along with the two fourth-quarter interference calls by Chris Carr trying to cover Laveranues Coles, had the Titans in a helmet-throwing, combative mood and that aforementioned loud crowd in a foul mood.
"I think the situation at the end was a little bit unfortunate," fullback Tony Richardson said. "I have a lot of friends on the other sideline. There’s a lot of jawing and stuff like that. I think you really don’t want to get into all that. But obviously the fans were frustrated with some of the calls. Early on we were frustrated with some of the calls. One thing we wanted to try to do was keep our composure and just continue to keep playing ball."
"I don’t know why they were booing," said Faneca. "I was trying to figure that out. They were booing when they stopped us for a yard gain. Anytime you’re able to take the ball down the field and disrupt what the other team’s trying to do and they know what you’re trying to do, and the fans are doing what they’re doing, it’s a fun time."
And a fun time was had by all — all on the Jets O-line and all who were wearing green and white, that is.
Here are the 10 games in the last 25 seasons in which the Jets have had at least 40 minutes of possession time and more than double that of their opponents:
|Year||Opp.||Jets TOP||Opp. TOP||Final Score|
|1985||vs. TB||40:20||19:40||Jets, 62-28|
|1988||vs. MIA||40:16||19:44||Jets, 38-34|
|1989||vs. ATL||40:06||19:54||Jets, 27-7|
|1991||vs. BUF||40:35||19:25||Bills, 23-20|
|1992||vs. MIA||40:26||19:34||Jets, 26-14|
|1993||at WAS||41:00||19:00||Jets, 3-0|
|1997||at CIN||42:50||17:10||Jets, 31-14|
|2000||vs. IND||41:25||18:35||Jets, 27-17|
|2002||vs. IND (PO)||40:18||19:42||Jets, 41-0|
|2008||at TEN||40:30||19:30||Jets, 34-13|
Tags: Alan Faneca, Brandon Moore, Brett Favre, D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Damien Woody, Eric Mangini, LP Field, Nick Mangold, offensive line, Tennessee Titans, Tony Richardson
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