Sunday, November 18, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Jets 27, Rams 13
By Rich Cimini
ST. LOUIS -- The Jets finally found an opponent worse than they are. Overcoming a week of controversy and off-the-field distractions, they beat up on the lowly Rams 27-13, snapping a three-game losing streak Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome.
What it means: The Jets (4-6) avoided the indignity of losing to their former offensive coordinator, Brian Schottenheimer. More importantly, they kept their playoff hopes on life support. But let's be real here: They beat a bad team. All this does is buy them more time; the Jets still have a long way to go before we should take them seriously again. But at least this should eliminate some of the dark clouds.
Sanchez can exhale: Under mounting pressure, Mark Sanchez responded with one of his better games of the season. He was rattled early by the Rams' front four, but he got it under control with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Chaz Schilens, giving the Jets a 10-7 lead. Sanchez (15-for-20, 178 yards, TD) completed passes to nine different receivers, picking apart a woeful secondary. Mind you, the Rams haven't forced a turnover since Week 5. This should quiet the Sanchez-Tim Tebow controversy -- for a few days, anyway.
Sparano vs. Schotty: We know the Jets' offense isn't good. Now we know the Rams' offense is worse. The Jets outgained the Rams 289-281 in a battle of two lowly offenses, neither of which will produce a Pro Bowl player. But give Jets offensive coordinator Tony Sparano some credit: He made three good calls in scoring territory, all on third-and-long plays -- two running plays, both resulting in touchdown runs by Bilal Powell, and a screen pass to Powell. Clearly, Sparano didn't want Sanchez dropping back and throwing, considering his recent red zone mistakes.
A running back change? Shonn Greene hinted last week there should be a quarterback change (he claims he was misquoted). Considering Powell's performance (scoring runs of five and 11 yards), some might wonder whether there should be a change in the backfield. Greene (18 carries, 64 yards) was solid, but he was upstaged by Powell, who excelled -- finally -- as the third-down back.
Mo better defense: For the second straight week, defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson made the biggest play of the game. This time, it was a strip sack that pumped life into the moribund offense. Wilkerson exploded into the backfield and stripped the ball from Sam Bradford. Bart Scott was there for the scoop-and-run. That set up the offense at the Rams' 28. One play later, Sanchez hit Schilens, ending a five-quarter TD drought. After a slow start, Wilkerson has been playing like a first-round pick the past few weeks.
Bad start, strong finish: The Jets' defense shook off a horrible opening drive (13 plays, 86 yards and an easy touchdown pass for Bradford) and played lights-out. After the first drive, it held the Rams to 195 total yards for the remainder of the game and forced three turnovers. The Jets scored 14 points off the turnovers. They generated decent heat on Bradford (23-for-44, 170 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) and did a good job on WR Danny Amendola (seven catches, 41 yards), but a lot of it was just bad play by Bradford, who didn't look anything like a former No. 1 overall pick. It looks like Schottenheimer is reliving his Sanchez growing pains with Bradford.
Special teams -- bad: The Jets haven't been this mistake-prone in ... like, since the Kotite years. They got stuffed on a fake punt that fooled absolutely no one (Tebow flipped a shovel pass to Lex Hilliard), and they allowed a blocked field goal for the second time in three games. The Jets have made seven huge blunders in the past four games. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Fortunately for them, Nick Folk came up big with a couple of 51-yard field goals.
What's ahead: The Jets have a quick turnaround, as they host the first-place Patriots on Thanksgiving night. The Jets lost the first meeting in overtime 29-26, blowing a late lead.