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Sunday, September 13, 2009
Wrap-up: Jets 24, Texans 7



Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham


I'm not sure which to be more impressed by: the New York Jets' defense or the performance of rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez in a 24-7 victory over the Houston Texans in Reliant Stadium.

There are two major reasons to be upbeat right now if you're a Jets fan. Exhilarating first impressions will do that.

Sanchez won in his NFL debut and became the first to do so on the road since Chris Weinke eight years ago.

Sanchez completed 18 of 31 passes for 272 yards and one touchdown. He was in command. He converted several big third downs throughout the game.

Rookie head coach Rex Ryan, meanwhile, unleashed his defense with dramatic results.

The Jets were lights out. They manhandled the Texans, making a respectable offense look pedestrian. The Texans have become a trendy pick to reach the playoffs and have weapons like Andre Johnson and Steve Slaton. But they were rendered mute by the swarming Jets' defense.

The Jets forced two turnovers, sacked Matt Schaub twice, held Slaton to 17 yards rushing, held Johnson to 35 yards receiving and got off the field quickly enough that the Jets had the ball for 38:30.

Ryan's defense pitched a shutout. Houston's points came off a Sanchez interception late in the game.

But the reason I'm going to say the Jets' defense was more remarkable than Sanchez is that they were playing without defensive end Shaun Ellis and outside linebacker Calvin Pace, who both were serving suspensions.

How much do they mean to the defense?

Ellis and Pace combined last year for 133 tackles, 15 sacks, 18 tackles for losses, 21 quarterback hits, seven forced fumbles and two defensive touchdowns.

And the Jets still dominated.