AFC East: 2011 Week 7 coverage
October, 23, 2011
By Rich Cimini | ESPN.com
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Plaxico Burress scored three touchdowns and the defense pitched a second-half shutout as the New York Jets beat the San Diego Chargers 27-21 by scoring 17 unanswered points at MetLife Stadium.
What it means: It took seven games, but the Jets finally showed their resilience, rallying from a 21-10 deficit to win their second straight. This was a huge win for the Jets (4-3), who needed to beat a quality opponent. A loss would’ve crippled their playoff hopes.
Plax is back: A week ago, Rex Ryan said Burress and QB Mark Sanchez were “a little off” -- and, of course, that became a big story in New York. Looks like they’ve solved their issues. Burress pulled an Albert Pujols with a hat trick, scoring on catches of 3, 4 and 3 yards -- all against CB Antoine Cason, who probably needs to see a shrink after this beatdown.
It’s about time. The Jets signed Burress to be a red zone threat, yet they targeted him only seven times before Sunday. Finally, they made a concerted effort to exploit his 6-foot-5 presence near the goal line.
Revis saves: For the second straight game, CB Darrelle Revis made the game-turning interception. This time, it came in the fourth quarter with the Jets down by four points. His 64-yard return set up the go-ahead touchdown. Minutes later, CB Kyle Wilson also intercepted Philip Rivers.
Six days ago, Revis scored on a 100-yard interception return.
Ground & Pound: After taking baby steps the past two games, the Jets finally rediscovered their once-vaunted ground game. Shonn Greene rushed for a season-high day. The Jets felt confident they’d be able to run on the Chargers, who allowed 4.6 per carry. The Jets used a two-tight-end package most of the game, pounding away at the Chargers’ 3-4 front.
Flag men: C Nick Mangold and S Jim Leonhard are smart guys and don’t make too many mistakes, but they stepped out of character and committed costly penalties. Mangold’s holding call nullified a touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes and Leonhard was flagged for pass interference on Gates at the Jets’ 1. You know things are going bad when your most disciplined players are hurting the cause. This calls for a “Dumb and Dumber” headline because the Chargers had too many penalties. San Diego’s defense couldn’t get out of its own way, responsible for nine of the flags.
Ex-Bolts: As expected, LaDainian Tomlinson received a ceremonial start against his former team, but he didn’t finish the game because of an undisclosed illness. He got a lot of early playing time (unofficially, he played 20 of 32 snaps in the first half), but there was no magic from the future Hall of Famer. Too bad, because it would’ve been a great story. As much as he downplayed it, Tomlinson wanted to play well against the team that cut him after the 2009 season.
Banged-up D:Jets DT Mike DeVito (knee) didn’t play and his replacement, rookie Kenrick Ellis (ankle), left in the first quarter and didn’t return. The Jets went to Marcus Dixon, a drop-off in run defense. ILB David Harris (ankle) also left for a quarter before returning in the third quarter. It created a patchwork feel in the front seven.
Actually, Josh Mauga started the game at outside linebacker, replacing Jamaal Westerman, a liability against the run. Mauga isn’t a stout defender, either, but the Jets wanted his pass-coverage skills on the field against the Chargers’ pass-catching backs, Ryan Mathews and Mike Tolbert.
What’s next: The Jets have a bye week before resuming their season in Buffalo.
October, 23, 2011
By James Walker | ESPN.com
Here are some thoughts on the Denver Broncos' 18-15 overtime victory against the Miami Dolphins:
What it means: This could be the final blow for Miami coach Tony Sparano. The Dolphins blew a 15-0 lead at home in the fourth quarter to an equally struggling Denver team. Sparano is expected to get the boot by the end of the season. But now it could happen much sooner -- perhaps as early as this week. It was Sparano's seventh straight loss at Sun Life Stadium. Miami (0-6) also remains the favorite in the Andrew Luck Sweepstakes by losing to Denver (2-4).
Tebow heats up late: The much-anticipated Tim Tebow era did not get off to a good start. But Tebow heated up late to pull the victory out in overtime. Tebow struggled most of the game with his accuracy and was battered by Miami's defense. He completed 13 of 27 passes for 161 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns. He also had a key two-point conversion to tie the score near the end of regulation.
Offensive offenses: This game was not pretty. It very much played out like a pair of teams going nowhere, particularly on offense. Neither team could muster a touchdown until Miami scored one early in the fourth quarter. The first third-down conversion didn’t come until late in the third quarter. Give both defenses some credit. But the game mostly had poor execution on offense.
What's next: The Dolphins will be on "Sparano Watch" before going on the road for two weeks. Miami will play at the New York Giants on Oct. 30. Then the Dolphins will travel to play the Kansas City Chiefs on Nov. 6.