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A Drive That Captures the Offense’s Ambitions

Posted by Randy Lange on January 11, 2011 – 6:51 pm

Before we move totally away from Indianapolis and on to New England, here’s one more thing of beauty from the wild-card win over the Colts on Saturday night. It has to do with that drive that bridged the third and fourth quarters, that glided from one end of Lucas Oil to the other, that kept the Jets in position to advance to the divisional round against the Patriots.

It was the most impressive drive in franchise playoff history. So say the numbers.

Seventeen plays? The most for any drive in the Jets’ 24 playoff games, one more than the 16-play TD drive before the half in the 2002 divisional game at Oakland.

Eighty-seven yards? The most yardage for any of the Green & White’s 294 playoff possessions, beating out the 85-yard touchdown march that put them ahead to stay in the second-quarter of the first game of the 1982 “Super Bowl Tournament” at Cincinnati.

Nine minutes, 54 seconds? The longest drive, the biggest chunk of possession time out of the 400 minutes, 40 seconds the Jets have possessed the postseason rock, topping the 9:17 of the last touchdown drive of the 41-0 romp over the Colts in the ’02 wild-card game.

“The biggest thing to me was the execution on the drive,” said wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery after today’s first practice of the week at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. “The guys just locked in and were moving the chains. We said if we continue to do that, we’ll go down, get in the red zone and score. Everybody was locked in. We were a little off in the first half but we got those things taken care of.”

The only drawback to the drive is that it didn’t win the game for the Jets, it only gave them a 14-10 lead with 9:49 to play. Had it finished with 0:00 to play, it would henceforth be known as “The Drive.”

So perhaps italics will have to serve: The drive broke down thus: LaDainian Tomlinson carried five times for 16 yards, Shonn Greene five for 10, Brad Smith one for 8 out of the Seminole. And Sanchez, who no question was off the mark in the first half, found his groove especially on this possession, completing all five passes for 47 yards and four first downs, two to Dustin Keller, one to Braylon Edwards, one to Tomlinson, even one to TE Ben Hartsock. Sanchez even kept for 6 yards to the Indy 15 on third-and-1.

LT applied the crowning touch with his 1-yard standing-up touchdown run.

“I don’t know if it was special or it showed our identity,” said tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson, “but it just was a reflection of good football being played. It lets you know, it lets us know, it lets everybody know that we do that, we can do that against a quality team.”

It surely was a required piece in the Jets’ latest road conquest, setting up the endgame so that if Peyton Manning and the Colts were held to field goals — which they were — then the Jets could win it with a field goal of their own — which they did. And it also was the centerpiece of a long closing kick that frustrated the Colts in their home corral. Before that was the merely superb 10-play, 63-yard touchdown drive to open the second half, and before that was the 13-play, 60-yard drive that ended with Mark Sanchez’s interception.

In the game’s final 34:25, the Jets held the ball for 22:40 and let Manning & Co. work with it for 11:45. Talk about keeping the ball out of the Hall of Fame quarterbacks. This was a chapter in the textbook.

And the point of all this fond reminiscence is that maybe the Jets can do it again, will need to do it again, will in fact do it again against another HOF QB on Sunday in Foxboro.

It’s another weapon of ours,” said Greene. “We think we can do that with our running style with me and LT going back and forth and our offensive line pounding them and Mark getting completions here and there. It should be a tough task for us but I think we can get it done.”

That’s in fact what’s been missing in the Jets’ two most recent visits to the town with two spellings (Foxboro and Foxborough). In 2009 Sanchez and his offense mounted an 11-play, 80-yard touchdown drive but that was the best of a turnover-laden lot as the Jets had the ball for only 20:06. Six weeks ago in the 45-3 loss, they opened each half with a drive of double-digit plays but only two marches reached even field goal range.

Sanchez surely knows he can’t turn the ball over as he has in those two visits. But he and his offensive mates also know that they won’t have to worry about TB if they hit their stride on the road once again in five days.

“One of the things Schottty [Brian Schottenheimer, of course] kept saying is that we’re not playing Peyton Manning or Tom Brady. We’re playing the defenses of the teams they play for. If we focus on things the way we need to, the game’ll play out the way it’ll play out.”

“If we can get that going again,” said Greene, “I think we have a good chance of winning this game.”

Rex Cetera

Head coach Rex Ryan took a break from his media schedule and did not talk with reporters today. He, Sanchez and the rest of the Jets will return to their normal Wednesday schedule on Wednesday, of all days. Even with some decent snowfall expected for North Jersey, we’re expecting to stream Ryan live on newyorkjets.com as usual around 2-2:15 p.m.

The shame of the precipitation headed the Jets’ way is that Blake Hoerr and his grounds crew did a phenomenal job of scraping the turf field clear of last Friday’s snow, just in time for today’s practice and tonight’s new snow. Will the Jets work outside tomorrow, Thursday or Friday in preparation for the elements of Foxboro? No doubt they will, but which days remains up in the air.

The area around Gillette Stadium is expected to get a heaping helping from this snow event, but the weather on Sunday is forecast to be cloudy, breezy and in the mid 30s, with no snow expected.

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Posted in Randy Lange | 17 Comments »

17 Responses to “A Drive That Captures the Offense’s Ambitions”

  1. By Jet Fan Since '64 Tom on Jan 11, 2011 | Reply

    Highly relevant to this column, here’s a very interesting statistic: NE was dead last in opponents’ 3rd-down conversion rate. I’d like to hear what everybody thinks that implies for this game. First off, I’d say it suggests we should try to make sure we get into more 3rd and 2’s than 3rd and 18’s, which in turn suggests we ought run the ball more than last time. That might mean running it more cleverly, like the way Schotty ran the Wildcat later in the game vs IND, and I wouldn’t mind seeing BS throw it once or twice (almost thought LT was gonna on 1 play at IND). We still need to score early but even more importantly we need to be in the game at the half, not like last time. And yeah, I say run the score up BIG TIME if we get the chance.

  2. By IRA on Jan 12, 2011 | Reply

    Randy, That drive before the half even though it didn’t lead to a score showed the players that they can run over the Colts. The Jets will need a couple of those 9 min drives this week to keep Brady off the field and there is no reason why they can’t. Its a mindset you must have that nothing is going to get in your way or stop you. The Jets o-line can get that done.
    Think Callahan had anything to do with that drive? Sure he didn’t call for a pass in that game in Oak vs the Jets when he ran something like 22 running plays in a row to open the game. Wasn’t that the 03 game the Jets won in OT? And boy oh boy that had to be the longest play consuming drive i have ever seen.

  3. By Randy Lange on Jan 12, 2011 | Reply

    Ira, that’s correct, Nov. 9, 2003. Oakland opened with a 19-play, 80-yard, 10:58 drive, all running plays, and added two more runs before Rick Mirer threw his first pass of the game, a completion to Jerry Rice. The Raiders had 52 carries that day but the Jets came back to win in overtime, 27-24.

  4. By GaryC on Jan 12, 2011 | Reply

    people are forgetting Brandon Tate, be careful with his speed, remember Garcon ran past cromartie and pool one time.Jets might try using four man fronts and congesting middle of field and forcing Brady to throw outside the numbers. wind could be problem at game time and jets will have to challenge him to make the difficult throw not the dink throws where he throws to woodhead and welker for easy yardage.

  5. By Hassan on Jan 12, 2011 | Reply

    The new wrinkle in this game that NE has not seen or any other team for that matter would be for BS to run the option, fake the pitch, pull back and throw to a TE that is running a post route.

  6. By Alex.G on Jan 12, 2011 | Reply

    How about getting the air game going real early?like the first couple of plays throw deep passes to Braylon Edwards or Holmes,and burn the young secondary then hit them again with keller Holmes&Edwards, they really need to put in their faces that the JETS mean business!and yeah you may have Tom but so what!!Sanchez just put 14 on you in the air, how does that taste and point to Tom on the Sideline and tell him look at the score board! and then ground and pound them to a slow death. If they play JETS football they can beat the Pats anything less will be another very public and very humiliating loss. and I would hate to see Rex and the Jets get nailed to that cross. just keep the pats honest and they should win. make it a game guy’s!!

  7. By carl on Jan 12, 2011 | Reply

    Hey Randy, does Mark know any yoga? Last time in N.E he seemed nervous before the game.I’m thinkin, if can just relax a little befoe the game, he can focus. The guy can make all the throws!!! Its his nerves that are getting the best of him!! Go JETS!!!!!!!!!!

  8. By IRA on Jan 12, 2011 | Reply

    Mizzou can get that done any game Schotty calls it. Trouble is BB will have them ready for it unless a player blows a coverage. Good idea though.
    Love that AC said he has to beat up the WR’s at the line of scrimmage. Thats the only way they are going to beat the Pats. The Jets have to be SO physical with their WR’s just like the Pats and T. Law was with the Colts before they put into effect the T. Law rule.
    Good thing is Rex will gameplan his D now to face the pats without Leonhard. That wasn’t the case in Dec and will make a huge difference.
    GO JETS!!!!!

  9. By Alex.G on Jan 12, 2011 | Reply

    The Patriots will be expecting the run early as the JETS ran big on the Colts and they put 159 yards on the pats carpet the last meet?? so I would think knowing they expect the run change it up and throw it on them. turn those throws into points keep Belichick guessing to what will be next!!are they going to continue to pass?? run or are they going to run pass ?? just don’t be so easy to study as they will study and look for adjustment’s! and get pressure on Brady some one needs to start a fire on the pass rush someone has to get some hard hits on Tom early and shake him up! let him talk crap through his ear hole!!! if I were a Jet after 60 minutes they would have to cart me off, because my every ounce would be left on that field!

  10. By Ed in Tucson on Jan 12, 2011 | Reply

    I agree wholeheartedly with 64 Tom about running up the score. I believe we’ll be in position to do that if we use THE DRIVE as a model. Run, run. run with occasional short passes from unexpected arms. We must never forget that the Brady bunch can put up a bunch of points in no time at all. Our O must be relentless in running up the score as we’re running out the clock. Let the play clock run down to 1 or 2 seconds before snapping the ball. There were a few times when MS snapped the ball with double digit seconds left on the play clock. Those are seconds that can be used against us (if the game clock is running). Every second counts when you’re playing against an elite QB & a hall of fame coach.
    Go Jets, whup the Pats!

  11. By Joe in Richomd on Jan 12, 2011 | Reply

    @Carl, I noticed that too, that MS looked unsettled before the game. Had a bad feeling from that point. It’ll be different this time. They seem like they are starting to their stride. Paybacks coming NE. GO JETS!!!

  12. By Jet Fan Since '64 Tom on Jan 12, 2011 | Reply

    Wile I think we should run the ball a lot, I also agree with Alex.G about not leaving the passing game under wraps for three quarters like in the loss to the Ravens. Holmes gave that interview on the site after one of the last-second wins talking about the advantages a fifth-yr player has on a rookie or2nd-yr guy. I just find it hard to believe that young veterans in their prime like SH, BE J-Co of course, and even Keller, who’s in his third yr and all starting, can’t take advantage of the NE secondary if Sanchez can put the ball where it’s supposed to be.

  13. By GaryC on Jan 12, 2011 | Reply

    lets get real guys,we are going to run up the score on the patriots in their building. lets be happy with a one point win.and to say cromartie is going to play physical is like saying ray lewis pots plants.

  14. By Jet Fan Since '64 Tom on Jan 12, 2011 | Reply

    I’ll be happy with a 1-point win in double overtime, GaryC, I just meant I’d show these guys no mercy after what they did in the 45-3 game. And I sure won’t cry any tears someday if Little Bill has Brady throwing late in the 4th quarter while up by five TDs and he suffers an injury.

  15. By charliejet on Jan 12, 2011 | Reply

    As much as I hate to give em’ credit – but when a team scores on the pats’ brady comes back fast and furious with a quick score. We need to come back on our scores very fast i.e. don’t let brady come back to score – do that a couple of time and that will throw his game off.

  16. By Jet Fan Since '64 Tom on Jan 13, 2011 | Reply

    charliejet, Brady’s immaturity, insecurity, and poor sportsmanship aside (what kind of guy can throw 36 TDs but has to point at his opponent when he throws one?), you’ve clearly identified our biggest challenge, stopping an O that explosive (7th most points in a season ever). This ties together many of my thoughts about Sanchez, Schotty, McCourty, and other things. When you’re invariably up quickly on your opponent, it sure takes the pressure off your D. As for our O, I was thinking today about back in August when J-Co and other players were saying the pre-season O was “very vanilla” and they’d get it together soon enough. They never did, not consistently, which is why I say the clock is ticking on Sanchez, Schotty, even Rex eventually.

  17. By Row on Jan 14, 2011 | Reply

    Sanchez through high all day and the receivers bailed him out. The Pats have a terrible pass D, but a great safety. I really hope he learns to play QB, because as of now he’s regressed. If he blows the Pats game, it’s time to go another direction. The Sanchez experiment has sold enough jerseys. It’s time to find someone who will win some games.
    Go Jets

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