Our congratulations one last time to Antonio Cromartie and LaRon Landry for their participation in Sunday’s Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu.
Of course, it was a long Hawaiian afternoon for anyone associated with the AFC’s pass defense as the Nationals racked up 420 passing yards, six TDs to one INT and a Pro Bowl-record 62 points in the pullaway over the Americans. But Cro and LaRon, playing as secondary backups and on special teams, did make their positive contributions as well in the annual all-star game.
Cromartie had three first-half solo tackles in the game. The first came after a 5-yard first-quarter reception by none other than Giants WR Victor Cruz. The others came after receptions by Vincent Jackson and Larry Fitzgerald.
Cro also had an offside on a field goal attempt that wiped out an AFC interception-return TD, but that sounds a little more devastating than it was. He was premature in timing the field goal snap on the first play of the fourth quarter. NFC holder Thomas Morstead, with No. 31 closing in, picked up the snap and tried to pass to eventual Pro Bowl MVP Kyle Rudolph, but Eric Berry picked the pass and took off for an 86-yard score.
Cromartie also couldn’t handle a kickoff-return pitch from Joshua Cribbs late in the third quarter, with the fumble being charged to Cribbs and the NFC recovering at the AFC-11 to set up the above nullified field goal. But Cro also later took a lateral from C.J. Spiller on another kickoff return for 23 yards to start the drive that ended with A.J. Green’s third TD reception and the game’s last score.
Landry had one solo tackle, also after a Cruz catch, but otherwise had a low-key game.
Hot and Cold
The weather was a cloudy, breezy 78° for the Pro Bowl, a far cry from this morning in North Jersey, where it’s 28, snowing and with the threat of freezing rain continuing through midday. Last Friday it was 7° in the neighborhood surrounding the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center, and after a brief spring fling Wednesday with temps expected to rise to 60, it’s back into the freezer into and through Super Bowl Sunday.
Which naturally raises the question about the weather exactly a year from now, when the first outdoors Super Bowl in the Northeast will be played at MetLife Stadium. The NFL and the region did a little preview of Super Bowl XLVIII last week but what about snow, freezing rain, winds?
What about the cold? Let’s start with that. It seems Commissioner Roger Goodell and the league are embracing a cold-weather game most of all. It would harken back to the good old days of NFL championships on “the frozen tundra.” Here are the “unthawed three” big games in league history, along with some coincidental notes on wind-chill at each of the games (home teams in CAPS):
Dec. 31, 1967 — PACKERS 21, Cowboys 17, Lambeau Field.
Temp: –13° F. Wind: 14.5 mph. “Old” Wind-Chill: –48.
“The Ice Bowl” has always been the NFL’s cold standard, the game when officials shouted rather than tweeted so their metal whistles wouldn’t bond to their lips, a fan in the stands died of exposure and several players were treated for frostbite. The agreed-upon temp at the 1 p.m. CST kickoff has always been minus-13, may also have been at the end, and so it is altogether appropriate that Packers QB Bart Starr sneaked over the goal line with 13 seconds to play for the TD that won the NFL’s ’67 championship.
The 48-below-zero wind-chill is also legendary, although the National Weather Service switched to a more scientific and realistic wind-chill equation in 2001. In NOAA’s online feature on the game, the “new wind-chill” for the game was –36° at kickoff, and during the game it ranged from –37 to –33, getting slightly “balmier” in the third quarter.
Jan. 10, 1982 — BENGALS 27, Chargers 7, Riverfront Stadium.
Temp: –9°. Wind: Northwest, 20-35 mph. “Old” Wind-Chill: –59°.
”The Freezer Bowl” was the quintessential game demonstrating that West Coast teams don’t like traveling to the frozen Midwest/Northeast. This AFC title game has always been held up as the wind-chill winner at –59, but that had to be taken near the opening kickoff with a 27-mph wind gust. NOAA’s readings from the nearby Cincinnati airport showed temps rising slightly and the winds staying steady at 23 mph. Translated to the “new” readings, the wind-chill that day fluctuating between –37 and –23. Not cold enough to force those Bengals O-linemen to put on long sleeves, yet still, in NOAA’s opinion, “arguably the most brutal football weather in NFL history.”
Jan. 20, 2008 — Giants 23, PACKERS 20, OT, Lambeau Field.
Temp: –1°. Wind: West 12 mph. Recorded Wind-Chill: –23°.
On the way to their first Super win over the Patriots, the Giants had to vanquish Brett Favre and the Pack in their frozen Lambeau shrine. Favre played like a 78-year-old guy in search of his heated blankie rather than the 38-year-old master of the tundra that he used to be, with a horrid fourth quarter and a game-chilling interception to Corey Webster on the second play of overtime. The wind-chill for this game was listed as minus-23 but we’re not sure where that came from. The recorded temp and wind at kickoff produce a minus-19° wind-chill. Still pretty darned cold.
To bring it all home for the Jets, here are the three coldest games we know of in Green & White annals:
Dec. 26, 1993 — BUFFALO 16, Jets 14, Rich Stadium
Temp: 9°. Wind: WNW 23 mph, gusting to 30 mph. Stated Wind-Chill: –28°
This appears to be the Jets’ coldest game ever. Just ask Cary Blanchard, who tried three times to put a leather rock through the uprights, from 27, 41 and 42 yards away, for the points that might have won this game, only to have each kick pushed wide left by the Western New York winds. Again, not sure for the source of the official wind-chill. With the old formula, it would’ve been –32, with the gusts dropping it to –37. Under the new formula, the WC would have varied from –13 to –15.
Dec. 17, 1972 — Browns 26, JETS 10, Shea Stadium
Temp: 24°. Wind: WNW 40-45 mph. “Old” Wind-Chill: –15°
The season finale at Shea between the Browns, who had already clinched the AFC’s one wild-card slot, vs. the Jets, who were shooting for 8-6 but were out of the running. With Joe Namath and Al Woodall sidelined, Bob Davis started at QB and completed five of 12 passes for 44 yards (24 net after losing 20 yards on three sacks). Winning QB Mike Phipps was more effective in the gusts, although not much more accurate at 7-for-17. The new wind-chill hovered around 3° to 4°.
Dec. 23, 1989 — Bills 37, JETS 0, Meadowlands
Temp: 16°. Wind: NNW 13-20 mph. “Old” Wind-Chill: –11°
Another cold, frosty one poured against Buffalo, this one at home, and another bitter defeat, not only due to the atmosphere (new wind-chill from 1 to –2) as Joe Walton coached his final game for the Jets before being dismissed.
That regime change, to GM Dick Steinberg/HC Bruce Coslet, didn’t generate much more warmth in the ensuing four seasons. Now, after a 2012 season-finale loss to the Bills (15° wind-chill), it’s up to the semi-new regime of John Idzik/Rex Ryan to generate traction. Super Bowl XLVIII? Not even going there at this time. Let’s get through XLVII in balmy New Orleans (expected game-time weather inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome: 70°, wind of 0 mph), then take on one day at a time, one game at a time in ’13 en route to becoming an all-weather perennial contender.
Tags: Aloha Stadium, Antonio Cromartie, Cary Blanchard, Joe Walton, John Idzik, LaRon Landry, MetLife Stadium, Rex Ryan
Posted in Randy Lange, Uncategorized | 116 Comments »
Here are today’s pregame tweets for the Jets-Chargers game at MetLife Stadium, in case you missed them on Twitter. Follow Bob Wischusen, Eric Allen and me for our tweets during each Jets game on https://twitter.com/nyjets.
#RL Weather for Jets-Chargers today, 1 pm ET kickoff, at MetLife Stadium: mostly sunny, low 40s, winds close to 10 mph out of SW.
#RL Jets 14-17-1 all-time vs SD but have won 5 of last 7, incl PO wins @ SD in ’04 and ’09 and last yr’s 27-21 win over Chargers at MetLife.
#RL Greg McElroy gets first pro start for Jets. G-Mac got “relief win” in only previous appearance in 7-6 win over ARZ 3 wks ago.
#RL Chargers’ Philip Rivers is 1-2 career vs Jets with passer line of 62-of-97 (63.9%), 727 yds, 5 TDs, 5 INTs, 3 sacks, 82.3 rating.
#RL Jets RB Shonn Greene needs 49 rushing yds today to reach 1,000 rushing yds for 2nd consecutive season.
#RL Jets DE Muhammad Wilkerson in last 9 games: 4 sacks, 3 forced FUMs, 1 FUM-return TD, 3 PDs, 1 intl grounding forced, 1 blkd FG
#RL Wilkerson, rookie DE Quinton Coples–former Hargrave MA teammates–are tied for Jets lead with 4 sacks each.
#RL Jets D on a run: Have held opponents to 4 conversions on their last 46 third downs. (0-for-2 vs NE, 0-15 vs ARZ, 2-16 @ jax, 2-13 @ TEN).
#RL Jets K Nick Folk is 17-for-22 FGAs this season. SD’s Nick Novak, former Jets K, is 15-for-17 FGAs this season.
#RL Jets wearing green jerseys, white pants today. They’re 3-3 this yr, 12-10 under Rex Ryan since ’09 in green/white.
#RL Today’s referee is Pete Morelli. It’s his 9th Jets game as ref. He also had Jets games @ SD in ’04 (34-28 win) and ’08 (48-29 loss).
#RL NYJ inactives: WR Mardy Gilyard CB Aaron Berry, CB Donnie Fletcher LB Ricky Sapp Davis DL Damon Harrison G Caleb Schlauderaff TE Dustin Keller
#RL Greg McElroy, Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow all active for this game, 1st game this season all 3 Jets QBs have been active in a game.
#RL SD inactives: RB Edwin Baker LB Jonas Mouton LB Demorrio Williams OL Stephen Schilling WR Mike Willie TE Ladarius Green DT Aubrayo Franklin
Tags: Greg McElroy, Mark Sanchez, MetLife Stadium, Muhammad Wilkerson, Pete Morelli, Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
Posted in Randy Lange | 6 Comments »
Here are today’s pregame tweets for the Jets-Cardinals game at MetLife Stadium, in case you missed them on Twitter. Follow Bob Wischusen, Eric Allen and me for our tweets during each Jets game on https://twitter.com/nyjets.
#RL Foggy day in East Rutherford town for Jets-Cards at MetLife Stadium. Forecast for game: partly cloudy, temps low 50s, light wind.
#RL Jets, Cards have played 7 times previously. Jets lead series 5-2, winning last 5 games (78, 96, 99, 04, 08) by average score of 27-15.
#RL Jets set franchise single-quarter record with 34 pts in 2nd qtr vs ARZ in 2008. Jets K that day: Jay Feely, who’s now Cards’ kicker.
#RL Protect the ball: Mark Sanchez in 35 career wins has turned ball over 24 times (0.7/gm), in 29 losses has 58 turnovers (2.0/gm).
#RL Jets RB Shonn Greene in last 6 games has averaged 4.4 yards per carry. Greene leads Jets this yr with 33 1st downs, 11 3rd-down convs.
#RL ARZ WR Larry Fitzgerald, who had 8 catches for 122 yds in 08 game vs Jets, leads Cards with 55 catches (for 627 yds, 4 TDs) this yr.
#RL ARZ QBs (Kevin Kolb, John Skelton, rookie Ryan Lindley starting today) have been sacked 46 times, most of any team in NFL thru 12 wks.
#RL Walt Anderson is today’s referee. This is Anderson’s 11th NYJ game as ref since ’03. He worked MIA home game 5 wks ago.
#RL Thom Brennaman, Brian Billick calling game for FOX. Billick, Rex Ryan’s boss 99-07 @ BAL, is working his 2nd Jets game as network analyst.
#RL NYJ inactives: QB Tim Tebow, WR Clyde Gates, CB Aaron Berry, LB Ricky Sapp, DL Damon Harrison, G Caleb Schlauderaff, TE Hayden Smith.
#RL With Tebow deactivated, Greg McElroy is active for today’s game for the first time in his NFL career.
#RL ARZ inactives: QB Kevin Kolb, WR Andre Roberts, RB Alfonso Smith, G Senio Kelemete, T Pat McQuistan, TE Todd Heap, DE Calais Campbell.
#RL Jets wearing green jerseys, white pants today. 22nd time Jets are green/white under Rex Ryan (11-10 since 09), 6th time this yr (2-3).
Tags: Arizona Cardinals, Jay Feely, Larry Fitzgerald, Mark Sanchez, MetLife Stadium, Rex Ryan, Walt Anderson
Posted in Randy Lange | 4 Comments »
Jets linebacker Bart Scott met with reporters this afternoon to clarify comments he made regarding fans who greeted the Jets as they entered the MetLife Stadium tunnel at halftime of Thursday’s game against the Patriots.
Scott was quoted by the Daily News as saying, “The person yelling at you probably was picked last in dodgeball all through high school.”
The 11th-year veteran met with head coach Rex Ryan to discuss the matter and said he was making a generalization with his above quote.
This afternoon No. 57 told reporters that he has a tremendous amount of respect for the fans and the sacrifices they make. But he also stressed that he is always going to protect his team and organization.
“I mean, it’s freedom of speech, you know?” Scott said. “You can say what you want. I mean, as long as nobody gets physical or puts their hands on you, they’ll understand. But we should also understand that within those stands are family members, are wives, are kids and they have to live that. But I guess that’s what we sign up for.”
Ryan and Scott both agree that fans are going to display their frustrations when their team isn’t winning and isn’t performing at a high level, and that players and coaches shouldn’t allow what fans say affect them.
“We’ve got to appreciate our fans,” Ryan said. “Obviously in the good times it’s much easier than in the bad times.”
Scott wouldn’t say how long his conversation with Ryan lasted, but he said he understands where the coach is coming from.
“That’s the way it is in the life of a public figure,” the 2006 Pro Bowl selection said. “We live in a fishbowl and everything we do is analyzed and criticized. I don’t read into it and I don’t buy it. It takes a family member or someone who knows me to tell me what someone is saying and I take it all in stride, because at the end of the day, I know who and what I am and what I stand for.”
Scott, who has been battling through a turf toe injury most of the season, said he remembers when former NFL quarterback Tommy Maddox had a bad game and fans dumped trash and litter at his house.
“Is that wrong? I don’t know,” Scott said.
With a 4-7 record, it hasn’t been an easy year on the Jets players or their fans. Yet as one of the Green & White’s most outspoken leaders, Scott believes good things can still transpire.
“We all came into this season with expectations,” he said. “But I think the real true character of a man is tested when things aren’t going well. Anybody can sit up here and answer questions and do things when it’s easy, when it’s convenient. But when times get tough, that’s when a real man steps up and shows his true character.”
Yes, the fans were embarrassed by the Patriots game. The players were as well. Scott just hopes they will stay behind them the rest of the season.
“We’re practicing hard and we’re trying to finish it,” he said. “Hopefully with these last five games, we can make our fans proud, and Jets Nation and Gang Green feel like that we fought for them and that we put a good product out on the field for them.”
Thursday Injury Reports
There was some movement on the Jets’ injury report today, most of it favorable. WR Jeremy Kerley (heel/hamstring/illness), WR Chaz Schilens (concussion/hip) and LB Bart Scott (toe) all went from being limited during team drills Wednesday to being full-go today, and CB Aaron Berry (quad) went from DNP to limited. WR Clyde Gates (concussion) remained sidelined and S LaRon Landry (heel) did not practice in keeping with his weekly routine. G Brandon Moore (hip) was limited. New to the 20-player list today: LB Ricky Sapp (ankle, limited) and CB Kyle Wilson (illness, full).
Changes on the Cardinals’ 10-player list: RB William Powell (shoulder) and S Justin Bethel (shoulder) both went from limited to full today.
Tags: Bart Scott, MetLife Stadium, New England Patriots, Rex Ryan
Posted in John Holt | 34 Comments »
It’s not surprising that the Jets’ 49-19 loss to the Patriots that concluded shortly after 11:30 p.m. on Thanksgiving would look pretty much the same about 11 hours later when head coach Rex Ryan spoke with reporters on a conference call late this morning.
“To have that stretch, it’s just amazing,” Ryan said of the withering second quarter of five touchdowns in an 11:46 span, the first four scoring after Jets giveaways. “I don’t know how else to put it. I think I said ‘nightmare’ last night and I’ll stick with that because it’s just hard to imagine, but that happened.”
Probably the two most nightmarish things about the loss (not about the three Patriots TDs that were scored in 52 seconds, the quickest a Jets opponent has scored three TDs since 1970) were what it signified about the rivalry and about the rest of the 2012 season.
Ryan said he won’t concede that the gap between the Jets and Pats is too great to win the AFC East in the foreseeable future.
“To say that this team is that much better than us, I don’t believe that,” he said. “They’re a good football team, there’s no question, they’re an excellent football team. But to say we’ll never catch them, that’s ridiculous. There’s no chance, absolutely no percent of a chance that I believe that in my heart, no way. I’ll never concede that.”
As for the final five games, Ryan also remained positive. What, he was asked, gives him that confidence?
“I saw us making strides up until this game,” he said. “Even in this game, I think our offense is improving, I really believe that. I think we’re running the ball more efficiently than we have. I think our protections are better. Obviously, it’s not going to look like it when we got blown out. That’s what gives me confidence. I think we’re getting better on that side of the ball. On defense, I’m confident that we’ll get back to playing much better.”
The offense did keep on swinging Thursday night. We won’t try to argue that the Jets’ second 400-yard game of offense against New England in the last five games or Mark Sanchez’s eighth 300-yard passing game of his career or 25 first downs indicates a lot other than moving the ball against a Patriots defense that isn’t known for stopping opposing offenses and was relaxed after the visitors took their 35-0 lead.
But this was a game that was set up for the offense to roll into a ball. It didn’t and kept working drive by drive to get something done. If nothing else, everyone got work that could prove beneficial as the Jets swing into December.
Yet where was the strong short-yardage/goal-line running game from earlier this year? Where was the renewed pass rush (no sacks of Brady, although Mo Wilkerson did force intentional grounding on the game’s opening offensive play)? Where was the improvement in the turnover margin, which has really only been seen against Buffalo, Indianapolis and St. Louis this season? Whatever happens from here, these issues and others need to be addressed again.
“I do see improvements in some areas of this team. It might be hard to see from the outside, but I see it here. That’s why I’m confident we’ll finish strong these last five games,” Ryan said. “I’m responsible for everything. I’m responsible for the 4-7 record. I’m responsible for how we play. I will say this: I’ll also be responsible for how we finish. I’m confident we’ll finish.
Ryan clarified the situation involving backup QB Tim Tebow’s rib injury, saying that even though the injury happened sometime Nov. 11 in the Seattle game, Ryan didn’t find out until this past Wednesday after a CAT scan showed that the injury was not a bruise but rather two rib fractures. He said the reason Tebow suited up was because he was cleared to play by the Jets medical and training team and the player wanted to be there. But Ryan repeated his reasoning about not playing Tebow but also not activating QB Greg McElroy.
“I don’t know what you want me to say,” Ryan said. “I’m not going to get into the what-ifs or all that stuff. Obviously, if he was not cleared to play or they thought he could be in serious jeopardy to himself, then he never would’ve been activated, he never would’ve been cleared to play. Tim was cleared to play, he wanted to play, and that’s just the way it is.”
The team this afternoon offered a Tebow timeline:
■ Tebow finished the Seattle game, then told trainers after the game that his ribs were hurting. X-rays at the stadium were negative.
■ He played against St. Louis, and continued to experience soreness.
■ On Tuesday morning the soreness intensified.
■ Tebow was full for Tuesday practice.
■ MRI and CAT scan Tuesday evening showed the fracture and the head coach was informed.
■ Tebow was active for the New England game after speaking with Ryan and a undergoing pregame evaluation.
■ Tebow did not want any injections for the New England game.
Ryan also said about McElroy being activated for Arizona on Dec. 2, “We’ll see how the week progresses.” … Ryan said WR Clyde Gates suffered a concussion in the game. … The coach said he spoke “briefly” with owner Woody Johnson after the game. …
Five TDs in a quarter? It’s the first time a Jets opponent has done it, and the Jets have never done it. In the NFL at large, it’s been done in the NFL a few times recently. Here are the last four occasions, dating to the 1970 AFL-NFL merger:
2009, Game 6 — New England, vs. Tennessee, 2nd quarter, 59-0
1987, Super Bowl — Washington, vs. Denver, 2nd quarter, 42-10
1983, Game 5 — Green Bay, vs. Tampa Bay, 2nd quarter, 55-14
1980, Game 3 — L.A. Rams, vs. Green Bay, 2nd quarter, 51-21
Six TDs in a quarter has happened just twice:
1950, Game 7 — L.A. Rams, vs. Detroit, 3rd quarter, 65-24
1945, Game 2 — Green Bay, vs. Detroit, 2nd quarter, 57-21
Last time an NFL team scored five TDs in a quarter happened on the road? Thursday night may have been the first time.
Tags: Greg McElroy, Mark Sanchez, MetLife Stadium, New Engalnd Patriots, Rex Ryan, Tim Tebow, Tom Brady
Posted in Randy Lange | 146 Comments »
Here are today’s pregame tweets for the Jets-Patriots game at MetLife Stadium, in case you missed them on Twitter. Follow Bob Wischusen, Eric Allen and me for our tweets during each Jets game on https://twitter.com/nyjets.
#RL Weather for Jets-Patriots at MetLife Stadium tonight expected to be clear/cold, temps falling through low 40s during game, little wind.
#RL Jets tonight are playing in the 8th Thanksgiving game in their history. Their record: 4-3 overall, 3-0 @ home (wins in ’60, ’61, ’10).
#RL NYJ inactives: QB Greg McElroy, RB Kahlil Bell, CB Aaron Berry, NT Damon Harrison, G Caleb Schlauderaff,G Hayworth Hicks,TE Hayden Smith
#RL WR Jordan White (#17), CB Donnie Fletcher (#34), CB Darrin Walls (#27), signed from practice squad, all active for Jets tonight.
#RL NE inactives:CB Marquice Cole OL MarkusZusevics G Logan Mankins T Sebastian Vollmer TE Rob Gronkowski DEs Jake Bequette & Chandler Jones
#RL Jets gained 403 yds of offense @ NE last month, their first 400-yd game vs Patriots since 1996.
#RL Mark Sanchez career passing numbers vs NE: 140-for-237 (59.1%), 1677 yds, 12 TDs, 10 INTs, 19 sacks, 80.1 rating, 3-5 record.
#RL TE Dustin Keller has 8 catches in a game 4 times in career. First time: Thursday night 11/13/08 as a rookie in Jets’ 34-31 OT win @ NE.
#RL DE Mo Wilkerson has 2 forced fumbles, 1 FR-TD in last 2 games. Last Jet w/ 4 fumble plays in back-to-back games: LB Calvin Pace, 2008.
#RL Nick Folk has eight 50+ FGs in his Jets career, 3 this season–pair of 51-yders @ STL on Sunday, 54-yder @ NE last month.
#RL Tom Brady career numbers vs Jets: 479-for-753 (63.6%), 5360 yds, 32 TDs, 11 INTs, 42 sacks, 92.7 rating, 17-5 record.
#RL NE’s Wes Welker vs Jets: 11 games, 75 receptions, 874 yds (11.7 avg), 3 TDs, 3 100-yd games.
#RL Tonight’s referee is Mike Carey. It’s Carey’s 18th Jets game as ref since ’95. He also officiated 2010 Jets-Bengals Thanksgiving game.
#RL Jets have scored on 2 of their 10 opening drives this season — 2 TDs (@ PIT, @ NE),
#RL Jets opponents have scored on 6 of their 10 opening drives—4 TDs (@ MIA, HOU, @ SEA, @ STL), 2 FGs (@ PIT, MIA).
#RL Jets wearing green jerseys, green pants tonight, for 6th time under Rex Ryan. Record in g/g: 4-1 u/ Rex, 11-8 since ’02.
#RL We’ve cleared 500,000 followers. Amazing! And to think 3 years ago we had 500 followers. Thanks, Jets Nation.
Tags: Dustin Keller, Mark Sanchez, MetLife Stadium, Muhammad Wilkerson, New England Patriots, Nick Folk, Tom Brady, Wes Welker
Posted in Randy Lange | 60 Comments »
Updated, 4:01 p.m. ET
Thanksgiving is a time for turkey, but Thursday night the Jets and Patriots could give each other indigestoin by grilling up several New York strips.
Jets head coach Rex Ryan had Rob Ninkovich on his mind, if not on his tongue, earlier this week in discussing one of the many challenges the Jets will face against the Pats.
“Number 50, Ninkovich, if that’s how you pronounce his name, he’s a good player. I know him by number,” Ryan said. “He’s forced, I think, five, six fumbles this year, so they do a great job of attacking the football. I think they lead the league in forced fumbles. It’s something they’ve always done a great job of, so we have to make sure we’re protecting the ball at all costs.”
Rex’s research was right on. The Patriots lead the NFL with an impressive plus-20 turnover margin. They’ve done it in large part by leading the league unofficially with 19 forces and officially with 14 fumble recoveries. Ninkovich is tied for third individually with five forces and tied for first with three recoveries.
And Ninkovich has been a Jet-killer the past two seasons. He had the two interceptions of Mark Sanchez last year on Sunday night at MetLife Stadium, one returned for a TD, and his overtime strip sack of Sanchez provided the crushing coda to the Green & White’s 29-26 overtime loss at Gillette last month.
“Ninkovich is one of the best at it, it seems,” Sanchez said. “He’s really getting after the quarterback, he’s getting after the football, and that’s really their whole defense, that’s kind of their MO.”
He’s not alone. Two other linebackers, Brandon Spikes (4 FFs) and Jerod Mayo (3 FFs) are in the top 10, along with rookie DE Chandler Jones (3 FFs). That has the attention of Joe McKnight, who looked to be back at close to full speed from his ankle injury with several nice plays on kickoff returns and out of the backfield at St. Louis.
“From the mistakes I’ve made in the past,” he said with a small smile, “I just have to be more conscious of the ball. I’m always thinking about the ball before I even get the ball.”
He even shared his informal mental checklists with us. Before each kick return it’s something like:
1. Put my mouthpiece in.
2. High-and-tight the ball.
3. Two hands in traffic.
4. Make the kicker miss.
5. Score the touchdown.
Before he gets the ball from Sanchez on a run, he has a similar list:
1. Get the ball first.
2. Two hands in traffic.
3. Keep your feet when you run through the smoke.
4. Make the safeties miss.
5. Score the touchdown.
Needless to say, such emphasis for all the Jets’ skill players will be important tomorrow night. But they are not weaponless in this high-stakes game of strip poker, even if they were to lose a fumble. That’s because they’ve been stripping the ball away from QBs and RBs (and even kickoff returners, as New England’s Devin McCourty knows from five weeks ago) almost as well.
The Jets have 11 forced fumbles this season, tied for fourth in the NFL, and recovered 10, tied for third. And recently, they’ve been on even more of a roll. Their six FFs at Seattle and St. Louis are the most in the league the past two weeks and are the most in back-to-back games since they had seven forces on two occasions in the ’08 season.
The movers and shakers in this area have been DE Muhammad Wilkerson and S LaRon Landry. Wilkerson’s been involved in three separate fumble plays in those two games — two forces and the fumble-return TD vs. the Seahawks, and that’s the most in back-to-back games by a Jets player since Calvin Pace was involved in four fumble plays in consecutive games in ’08.
“I’ve been shouting it from the rooftops since Mo first got here,” NT Sione Po said of Wilkerson’s recent emergence. “His IQ level is more of like a six-, seven- or eight-year player in terms of what he’s playing at, his production and what he does to help this team as a whole. It’s just phenomenal. I’m glad I’m playing on the same side of the ball he is.”
Landry, who has three forced fumbles this year, with two coming against the Rams, declined to give his secrets, other than his patented crunching hits, one of which forced rookie RB Daryl Richardson to cough up the ball Sunday and set up the Jets’ final TD under the Edward Jones Dome. But he provided some general guidelines.
“You’ve got to have a knack for that, man,” he said. “It’s a knack and an attitude. It takes some practice. Part of it is the point of attack, and you’ve got to be aware of what kind of offender you’re going up against, tight end, receiver, running back. And you’ve got to finish. You’ve got to have a knack for it.”
These longtime rivals have shown they’ve got the knack this year. Who’s better at the strip Thursday night may have a lot to say about who comes away with the victory drumstick.
Final Injury Report
The Jets held a short, closed practice at the Atlantic Health Training Center this morning.
Just before 4 p.m., both teams released their final injury reports of the week. The Jets’ injury list seems manageable with seven designated “questionable” for the game: CB Aaron Berry, NT Kenrick Ellis, WR-PR Jeremy Kerley, RB-KR Joe McKnight, NT Sione Po‘uha, LB Bart Scott and QB Tim Tebow. Tebow practiced full today with his sore ribs while the other six were limited.
The 11 probables: TE Jeff Cumberland, DT Mike DeVito, WRs Clyde Gates and Stephen Hill, S LaRon Landry, C Nick Mangold, guards Brandon Moore and Matt Slauson, LB Calvin Pace, RB Bilal Powell and QB Mark Sanchez.
The Patriots listed their three DNPs this week as out for the game: TE Rob Gronkowski (forearm/hip) as expected; DE Chandler Jones, tied for the team lead with six sacks; and G Logan Mankins.
Thirteen Pats are questionable: D-linemen Ron Brace and Trevor Scott, safeties Patrick Chung and Steve Gregory, O-linemen Dan Connolly, Sebastian Vollmer and Nick McDonald, TE Aaron Hernandez, LBs Dont’a Hightower, Brandon Spikes and Tracy White, and WRs Brandon Lloyd and Wes Welker. The three probables are WR Julian Edelman, DT Kyle Love and LB Jerod Mayo.
Happy Thanksgiving to all and one way or another we’ll all meet up at the game.
Tags: Calvin Pace, joe McKnight, LaRon Landry, Mark Sanchez, MetLife Stadium, Muhammad Wilkerson, New England Patriots, Rex Ryan, Rob Ninkovich, Sione Pouha, thanksgiving
Posted in Randy Lange | 15 Comments »
Updated, Saturday, 12:10 p.m.
The Jets will be traveling to Seattle today without two contributors they thought might have been available for the Seahawks after an otherwise healing bye week. Head coach Rex Ryan announced at his news conference today that RB-KR Joe McKnight (ankle) and NT Kenrick Ellis (knee) will stay home.
“We’re going to keep them back here,” Ryan said before the team hops buses for Newark Liberty Airport and the six-hour flight to the Pacific Northwest this afternoon. “Kenrick was limited in practice. He’s just not quite ready to play. Hopefully next week he’ll be ready to go.”
Ellis hurt his knee in the Oct. 8 game against the Texans and hadn’t practiced at all until Thursday and today, when he was limited for the first time. But the nose tackle position will be manned as it was last week by Sione Po‘uha, who made his first start in four games and got in 21 plays against Miami after working through his own back injury, as well as rookie Damon “Snacks” Harrison.
McKnight, one of the NFL’s top kickoff returners for the second straight season, injured his ankle against Indianapolis on Oct. 14, played on the ankle at New England and vs. Miami, but aggravated the injury against the Dolphins.
“Joe is one of those type of deals where if he can get 25 percent better by not playing in a game, it’s probably time to do that,” Ryan said. “We’re going that route and hopefully we’ll be able to get him back so he can practice and play.”
The Jets have listed Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson as the backup kickoff returners to McKnight on their weekly game-notes package for reporters, but a new alternative roared into action when speedy second-year WR Clyde Gates ripped off a 47-yard return with the second-half kickoff vs. the ‘Fins and might have become the eighth different Jet to return a kickoff for a touchdown under special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff, had he not run into rookie Demario Davis near midfield.
The rest of the Jets injury report was pretty much the same all week. Six players were limited at today’s practice at the Atlantic Health Training Center, but Ryan said, “I believe all of them will play” at Seattle. Those six: C Nick Mangold (ankle), G Brandon Moore (hip), RB Bilal Powell (shoulder), LB Bart Scott (toe), S Eric Smith (knee) and Po‘uha. WR-PR Jeremy Kerley (heel) today became the 17th player listed on the injury report this week but practiced full and is probable for the Seahawks. Also, G Hayworth Hicks, signed this week from Indy’s practice squad, did not make the trip and has been ruled out for the game.
Update: Sorry, due to computer issues en route to Seattle, I couldn’t post the Seahawks’ injury report/game status. Here it is now:
Out — LB K.J. Wright (concussion), G James Carpenter (concussion).
Doubtful — DE Greg Scruggs (oblique).
Questionable — DT Clinton McDonald (groin).
Probable — WR Doug Baldwin (ankle), DE Red Bryant (foot), S Kam Chancellor (quad), WR Braylon Edwards (knee), DE Jason Jones (ankle), RB Marshawn Lynch (back/wrist), G John Moffitt (knee), CB Richard Sherman (illness).
Statement for the Region
Ryan wore a new baseball cap to today’s “Fast Friday” news conference. The logo on the front said it all: “NJ/NY STRONG.”
“I’m going to wear this hat at the game on behalf of our organization,” Ryan said. “Basically, it’s just to let people know, especially people in our region that were affected by Hurricane Sandy that our thoughts and prayers are with them. Hopefully they’ll see this hat on the sideline and they’ll understand that we’re with them and thinking about them, and also that we’re representing our region when we go up there and play this game.
“If they can get something encouraging out of our performance, that certainly motivates us and drives us as well.”
On Thursday owner Woody Johnson said the Jets are donating $500,000 to the relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, which last week devastated the New Jersey/New York area, and are dedicating their Thanksgiving night game against New England at MetLife Stadium to helping and honoring all those affected by the storm.
Tags: Clyde Gates, Hurricane Sandy, Jeremy Kerley, joe McKnight, Kenrick Ellis, MetLife Stadium, Rex Ryan, Seattle Seahawks, Sione Pouha
Posted in Randy Lange | 16 Comments »
Here are today’s pregame tweets for Jets-Dolphins at MetLife Stadium, in case you missed them on Twitter. Follow Bob Wischusen, Eric Allen and me for our tweets during each Jets game on https://twitter.com/nyjets.
#RL Gray afternoon for Jets-Dolphins 1 pm ET start at MetLife Stadium. Cloudy, chance of rain, temps in high 50s, wind gusts to 20 mph.
#RL Jets lead Dolphins in all-time series 49-44-1. Jets lead in all-time series at home 27-19, have won 1 of last 4 but 10 of last 14.
#RL Mark Sanchez career vs. MIA: 7 games, 120-for-233 passing (51.5%), 1623 yds, 10 TDs, 6 INTs, 13 sacks, 77.6 rating, 3-4 record.
#RL TE Dustin Keller career vs MIA: 8 games, 28 recs, 328 yds, 11.7 avg, 17 first downs, 4 TDs.
#RL Shonn Greene career vs MIA: 7 games, 82 carries, 247 yds, 3.0 avg, 0 TDs, 6 recs, 41 yds, 0 TDs.
#RL K Nick Folk is 41-for-43 career (95.3%) in 4th-quarter FG tries (incl playoffs), 2nd-best pct among all NFL kickers since 1991.
#RL Ryan Tannehill career vs NYJ: 1 game, 16-for-36 (44.4%), 196 yds, 0 TDs, 1 INT, 0 sacks, 50.2 rating, 0-1 record.
#RL Reggie Bush career vs NYJ: 3 games, 26 carries 169 yds (6.5 avg), 0 TDs, 6 recs, 15 yds, 0 TDs.
#RL CB Antonio Cromartie leads Jets with 3 INTs. Cro has 10 INTs as a Jets since ’10, with 1 coming @ MIA in Game 16 last season.
#RL K Dan Carpenter career vs NYJ: 15-for-17 in all FG tries, with both misses coming in Game 3 @ MIA last month, from 47, 48 yds.
#RL Jets inactives: QB Greg McElroy, RB Bilal Powell, S Eric Smith, LB Bart Scott, DT Damon Harrison, TE Jeff Cumberland, DT Kenrick Ellis.
#RL Bart Scott had appeared in 119 consecutive RS games, 5th-longest streak among active LBs, 8th-longest streak among active def players in NFL.
#RL Third-round rookie LB Demario Davis making his pro starting debut for Bart Scott at ILB alongside LB David Harris.
#RL TE Hayden Smith, signed from Jets practice squad on SAT, is active for this game and could make his pro debut.
#RL Active for Jets: NT Sione Pouha (back), who’s missed past 3 games, WR Clyde Gates (shoulder), who missed past 2 games.
#RL MIA inactives: QB Pat Devlin, CB Richard Marshall, LB Josh Kaddu, T Will Yeatman, TE Michael Egnew, WRs Rishard Matthews & Anthony Armstrong.
#RL Walt Anderson is the referee. Anderson has been ref at 9 previous Jets games since ’03, incl ’09 “Win And We’re In” Game 16 vs CIN.
#RL Jets in green jerseys, white pants today. Jets u/ Rex Ryan since ’09 are 11-9 in green/white, 9-7 at home in green/white.
Tags: Dan Carpenter, Mark Sanchez, MetLife Stadium, Miami Dolphins, Nick Folk, Reggie Bush, Rex Ryan, Ryan Tannehill, Shonn Greene
Posted in Randy Lange | 69 Comments »
Here are my first-half tweets for Jets-Colts at MetLife Stadium, in case you missed them on Twitter. Follow Bob Wischusen, Eric Allen and me for our tweets during each Jets game on https://twitter.com/nyjets.
#RL Jets gameday captains: G Brandon Moore, TE Dustin Keller, G Caleb Schlauderaff, LB Demario Davis, DT Daniel Muir.
#RL Jets win opening coin toss, defer. It’s only 2nd toss they’ve won this season, they’ve deferred both times (last week vs. HOU).
#RL Jets are 11-12 in games in which they’ve won the opening coin toss and deferred under Rex Ryan since ’09.
#RL Adam Vinatieri 20-yd FG is good, Colts lead 3-0 with 6:02 left in 1st qtr. Vinatieri career vs. Jets: 38-for-41 FGs (92.7%).
#RL Shonn Greene bursts up middle for 21-yd rush, his longest of the season.
#RL Sanchez-to-Stephen Hill for third-down completion to 10 yds. Hill’s first catch since opening day.
#RL Jets have 57 rushing yds in 1st qtr, their most in any quarter in the last 11 games, or since 1st qtr, Game 11, vs BUF, last year.
#RL Sanchez-to-Stephen Hill for 6-yd touchdown. Hill’s 3rd pro TD catch, 1st since opening day. Jets lead 7-3 with 14:13 left in 1st half.
#RL Aaron Maybin personal foul wipes out Antonio Cromartie’s 2nd INT-return TD of the season but Jets have ball on Colts 35.
#RL Shonn Greene on second-and-a-foot goes 10 yds for TD. Jets’ longest TD run since Greene went 25 yds @ WAS in Game 12 last year.
#RL Jets’ 11-point lead at 14-3 is their largest lead in the last 18 quarters, or since the final quarter of their opening-day win over BUF.
#RL Antonio Cromartie has second INT-return TD this game wiped out by a penalty–his own pass interference on Reggie Wayne.
#RL Jets rookie S Antonio Allen credited with sack of Andrew Luck on 1st down. Allen’s first pro game, first pro sack.
#RL Adam Vinatieri from 50 yds out–good. That’s his 2nd career 50-yard FG vs. Jets. 1st came in 2010 AFC Wild Card Game @ IND.
#RL Shonn Greene carries of 19 (from Tim Tebow handoff) and 6 puts Jets over 100 rush yds with 4:43 left in 1st half.
#RL Tim Tebow fake punt, pass to NICK BELLORE. 1st career reception for Bellore, first-and-10 at Colts 17, 2-min warning.
#RL Jets’ first fake-punt completion since 12.13.09, Brad Smith to Eric Smith for 27 yds at TB.
#RL Sanchez-to-Dustin Keller for 6 yds. Keller’s first reception since opening day vs. BUF.
#RL Another Sanchez-to-Hill TD 5-yd TD pass. This one to Jason Hill. Folk PAT gives Jets 21-3 lead with 27 seconds left in half.
#RL Jets’ 1st 3-offensive-TDs first half since Game 13 last year vs. KC. Jets go in with 21-6 lead at halftime.
#RL Jets have first 100-yd rush game in last 5 games, with a half to go. Shonn Greene: 14 carries, 91 yds. Sanchez 9-for-13, 62 yds, 2 TDs.
Tags: Antonio Allen, Antonio Cromartie, Indianapolis Colts, Mark Sanchez, MetLife Stadium, Nick Bellore, Shonn Greene, Tim Tebow
Posted in Randy Lange | 51 Comments »