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.”
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.
Tags: D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Indianapolis Colts, Jerricho Cotchery, Lucas Oil Stadium, New England Patriots, Peyton Manning, Shonn Greene, Tom Brady
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