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Game analysis: Tale of two QBs

11/7/2011

After studying the tape, a breakdown of the Jets' dominating 27-11 victory over the Bills:

KILLING IT ON PLAY-ACTION: Mark Sanchez tied a career high for the most play-action pass attempts in a game (12), according to ESPN Stats & Information. He completed 11 for 125 yards, including the 8-yard TD pass to Santonio Holmes. Let's examine the TD.

Obviously, it was a terrific catch by Holmes, who was surrounded by three defenders in the end zone, but he was able to find some open space because of the play fake. The run action was outstanding, with RB Shonn Greene taking a jab step to his left and cutting right, as if he were going to run a counter play. LG Matt Slauson pulled to the right -- again, selling the run action. LB Nick Barnett bit on the fake. By the time he realized it was a pass, it was too late. Sanchez fired the ball over his head and between nickel CB Leodis McKelvin and S George Wilson for the TD.

COSTLY PICK: Sanchez's interception, ruining a brilliant first drive, was a middle-of-the-end-zone throw -- just like the Holmes TD. But on the interception, Sanchez eyed TE Dustin Keller the whole time, seemingly intent on throwing it to him even though he was covered by two defenders. Sanchez had RB Joe McKnight open near the right goal-line pylon and he had FB John Conner alone in the left flat, but he forced the ball to Keller and overthrew it. S Jairus Byrd, in the back of the end zone, made the interception -- Sanchez's first of the season in the red zone.

OUTSMARTING A HARVARD MAN: In a span of 37 seconds, the Jets intercepted Ryan Fitzpatrick twice -- two brilliant calls by D.C. Mike Pettine.

First interception: The Jets had six men at the line, showing blitz. Only four rushed, but S Eric Smith stopped and dropped back into coverage -- so they dropped eight into coverage. Fitzpatrick was fooled by the simulated pressure. Slot WR David Nelson had a free release, but LB David Harris and LB Calvin Pace -- both of whom started at the line of scrimmage -- dropped into coverage. Initially, Pace cheated toward outside WR Naaman Roosevelt, but he read the quarterback and his eyes took him to Nelson for the interception.

Second interception: This was one of the Jets' vintage overload blitzes. They rushed three players from Fitzpatrick's right side, forcing the Bills to slide their protection in that direction. But OLB Aaron Maybin rushed from the blindside and applied pressure. Harris and LB Bart Scott, both of whom showed blitz before the snap, dropped into coverage. Fitzpatrick rushed his throw and Harris made a juggling interception, with S Jim Leonhard hitting Nelson from the ball as the ball arrived.

APPLYING PRESSURE: The Jets cranked up the pressure, rushing five or more on 55 percent of the Bills' pass plays. That was more like the "old" Jets, but they actually were more effective when they rushed four or fewer players. Interestingly, they've been more effective this season when not blitzing -- eight of 14 interceptions with a standard rush, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Jets Pass Rush Using 4 or Fewer Defenders

Category --- Wks 1-8 --- Sunday

Comp pct ..... 58.4 ...... 50.0

Yds/att ........ 7.4 ........ 5.7

TD-Int ......... 4-8 ........ 0-2

THERE'S A FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING: Bills RB Fred Jackson, one of the most reliable ballcarriers in the league, fumbled for the first time. It happened in the third quarter on the Bills' favorite running play, something the Jets call a "plunge" play.

TE Scott Chandler pulled to the right and turned upfield, blocking Scott. There appeared to be a crease in the Jets' D-line, but it closed quickly. NT Sione Pouha fought off C Eric Wood and drilled Jackson as he hit the hole, with Scott also closing after he defeated Chandler's block. Pouha knocked the ball loose. Leonhard, coming downfield as the free hitter (he would've been in position to make the tackle if Jackson had slipped through), recovered the fumble -- a huge turnover.

The Jets' players read their keys, knew what play was coming and disengaged from blockers to collaborate on a key play. Outstanding run defense.

ODDS AND ENDS: When the Jets went to the Wildcat late in the game, Sanchez was flagged for holding, but only after a humorous moment that was caught by the CBS cameras. He was split out to the left, against CB Drayton Florence. When Florence made an aggressive move toward Sanchez, it caused the Jets' QB to flinch. He jumped backward, as if trying to a avoid contact that never came. Said C Nick Mangold: "I found that pretty humorous." ... OL Vladimir Ducasse, used as an extra TE, pancaked a linebacker on LaDainian Tomlinson's 1-yard TD run ... The Jets, who rushed for an average of 279 yards in the previous four meetings, were held to 126. The Bills had to consider that a win. On first down, the Jets ran for only 61 yards on 18 carries, a 3.4 average.