AFC East: 2010 Week 9 Rapid Reaction

Rapid Reaction: Jets 23, Lions 20

November, 7, 2010
DETROIT – A look at the New York Jets' 23-20 win against the Detroit Lions.

What it means: For the second time in three games, the New York Jets escaped near-certain defeat, scoring on their final three possessions (once in overtime) to defeat the Detroit Lions. This time, it wasn’t a pass-interference penalty that saved them. It was lousy clock management by the Lions and clutch play by Mark Sanchez & Co. that allowed the Jets to overcome a 10-point deficit in the final three minutes of regulation. Coupled with New England’s loss, the Jets moved into a first-place tie.

Analysis: The Jets were stunned when the Lions decided to pass the ball on a third-and-6 with two minutes remaining. The pass by backup Drew Stanton (in for the injured Matthew Stafford) was incomplete and the Jets got the ball with 1:40 to play with no timeouts left. If the Lions had run, they would’ve given the Jets about a minute -- and chances of a game-tying field goal would’ve been just about nil.

Kicker Nick Folk is having a tremendous year, and he came up huge, kicking a 36-yard field goal at the end of regulartion and winning it with a 30-yarder in OT. It’s an amazing comeback story by a kicker who was on the street almost a year ago.

For the second time in three games, Mark Sanchez led a fourth-quarter comeback win -- the only two of his career. He was mediocre for 56 minutes, but he perked up as soon as the offense went into a hurry-up mode. He likes the two-minute offense, and had been asking to do it earlier. He showed poise and patience in the pocket, leading three scoring drives.

There’s something wrong with the Jets’ offense. For the second straight week, they were undermined by dropped passes (two more by Jerricho Cotchery), penalties and turnovers. Sanchez threw an interception on an underthrown deep ball to Santonio Holmes, and Braylon Edwards was stripped of the ball after a short reception early in the third quarter. What is it with the Jets’ receivers and their butter fingers? They can’t even hold on to the ball after they make the catch. (See last week’s two strip interceptions.)

Of the 11 penalties, the costliest was Trevor Pryce’s roughing-the-kicker infraction on a 21-yard field-goal attempt. Pryce stumbled into Jason Hanson, cutting him down at the knees, but it’s still a penalty even if it’s not intentional. The Lions took the points off the board because it gave them a first down and they scored on Stafford’s 1-yard bootleg. By the way, Hanson was injured, so rookie defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh had to kick the PAT – and he missed. As if that mattered.

The low point of the day for the defense was a 90-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter. Nickel back Drew Coleman gave up two completions for 38 yards to Nate Burleson, including the two-yard touchdown on the fade route. But the most damning sequence occurred before the touchdown, in goal-line, when the Jets had to burn two defensive timeouts because of confusion. That rarely happens to their defense, usually a well-coached unit. But it seems like the overall lack of discipline has spread like a virus to the defense.

Where was Ground and Pound? Facing the NFL’s 27th-ranked run defense, the Jets were absolutely convinced they’d be able to run all over the Lions. Didn’t happen. They tried everything, using “heavy” packages, featuring Shonn Greene (for a change) and sticking with it for as long as possible. No matter. They rushed for only 110 yards.

Want something positive? Sanchez’ bomb to Edwards with one minute remaining in the first half. Until that play, which gave the Jets a 10-7 lead, the offense had gone 86 minutes, 27 seconds without a touchdown (nearly six quarters), dating to the Week 6 win in Denver. There was nothing fancy about the play. On third-and-9, Edwards ran a ‘go’ route on cornerback Alphonso Smith. He caught the ball at the 21 and was home free, Sanchez’ pass traveling about 65 yards in the air. Going into the game, the Jets’ coaches felt the Lions’ cornerbacks were vulnerable. It took the Jets 29 minutes before they capitalized.

Here’s another positive: Revis Island is back. Cornerback Darrelle Revis delivered a vintage performance on Calvin Johnson, holding the Lions’ star receiver to one catch for 13 yards. Revis made a statement on the first play of the game, breaking up a deep sideline pass to Johnson. Clearly, Revis is over his hamstring injury, which affected him for about five weeks. The Lions stayed away from Revis and picked on Coleman throughout the game.

What’s ahead: Get ready for the Mangini Bowl. The Jets face their former coach for the first time since he was fired after the 2008 season, as they visit the Cleveland Browns. Another storyline is the battle of the Ryan brothers. Rex Ryan’s twin brother, Rob, is the Browns’ defensive coordinator. It’ll be a week of family trash talking.

Rapid Reaction: Browns 34, Patriots 14

November, 7, 2010
CLEVELAND -- Rapid reaction from the Patriots’ 34-14 loss to the Browns:

What it means. After a week in which the Patriots could boast having the best record in the NFL at 6-1, they came crashing back to Earth. The Browns (3-5) outplayed them in every facet of the game, with Eric Mangini and his staff also getting the best of Bill Belichick and his staff. The Patriots were outplayed, outcoached, out-everythinged.

Gronkowski mistakes hurt the Patriots. Rookie tight end Rob Gronkowski made two mistakes that played a significant part in the final outcome. After the Browns went ahead 3-0, Gronkowski was set up in a wedge position on the kickoff and signaled for a fair catch on a short attempt. But he moved away from the ball, putting running back Sammy Morris in a tough spot. The Browns recovered and quickly went up 10-0. Then, with the Patriots looking to close to 17-14 at the half, Gronkowski fumbled at the 1, with the Browns recovering.

Brady and offense stuck in neutral. Quarterback Tom Brady was off his game as the Patriots’ offense continued its inconsistent ways. Brady looked visibly frustrated at times. There were times when the offensive struggles were simply a result of no one getting open. Other times, it was the Browns mixing their defensive looks and creating pressure. The Patriots didn’t help themselves with some drops.

Kicker situation important to monitor. Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski left the game in the second quarter with a thigh injury and did not return. The Patriots will likely be looking at their emergency list this week for kicker options. Wes Welker had a successful point-after attempt and also a kickoff in the fourth quarter in Gostkowski’s absence.

Credit to Hillis, McCoy & Browns. As bad as the Patriots looked in this game, credit should also go to the Browns. They took it to the Patriots physically and Colt McCoy played with veteran-like poise. They deserved the win, with Peyton Hillis and the offensive line powering through what had been a solid New England run defense, and McCoy delivering in critical situations.

What’s next. The Patriots travel to Pittsburgh for a Sunday night game against the Steelers. After the way the Patriots were run over by Hillis (29 carries, 184 yards) and the Browns, they’ll have to prove that they can stand up to the physical Steelers. The Browns, who looked sharp coming off their bye, host the Jets.

Rapid Reaction: Ravens 26, Dolphins 10

November, 7, 2010
BALTIMORE -- The Baltimore Ravens defeated the Miami Dolphins 26-10 in M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday.

What it means: The Dolphins no longer are kings of the road. They were thoroughly outplayed on both sides of the ball and would've lost by a wider margin had the Ravens not collapsed twice inside the 15-yard line.

Great start squandered: The Dolphins' struggling offense made a statement on their opening possession, driving 75 yards on 11 plays for a touchdown. They didn't score another one. Chad Henne threw three interceptions.

Defensive troubles: Throughout the game, the Dolphins struggled with tackling the Ravens' backs. Cornerback Sean Smith should have had a pick-six in the third quarter but dropped a Joe Flacco pass he broke on perfectly.

Brown out: Dolphins running back Ronnie Brown ran six times for 45 yards and a touchdown on the opening drive. He had one more carry the rest of the first half. He finished with nine runs for 59 yards.

Carpenter's streak ends: Dan Carpenter received the NFL's special teams player of the month honor a few days ago and extended his streak of successful field goal attempts to 14. But he missed from 46 yards early in the fourth quarter on a kick that would have drawn the Dolphins within a touchdown.

What's next: The Dolphins will see Randy Moss' debut with the Tennessee Titans firsthand in Sun Life Stadium.