Rapid Reaction: Broncos 17, Jets 13
November, 17, 2011
By Rich Cimini | ESPNNewYork.com
DENVER -- The New York Jets got Tebow-ed, falling to the Denver Broncos 17-13 in a stunning, last-minute collapse Thursday night. Broncos QB Tim Tebow led a 95-yard drive, scoring on a 20-yard run with 58 seconds left.
What it means: The Jets fell to 5-5 in the most unimaginable fashion, blowing leads of 10-3 and 13-10 in the fourth quarter. The Jets have serious issues -- a mistake-prone Mark Sanchez, injuries to their running backs and an offense that doesn’t have a clue.
Tebowmania: With only three full days to prepare for Tebow and the Broncos’ college-style offense, the Jets’ defense was stellar for 56 minutes. Then came an utter collapse. Tebow came to life, leading a 12-play, 95-yard drive. In Denver, they will call it The Drive II. He made plays with his feet, and occasionally with his arm. The Jets fell asleep on the game-winning plays, allowing Tebow to scramble -- untouched -- into the end zone.
It may have been the death knell for the Jets’ season.
Bad Mark -- again: Sanchez did it again. For the second straight week, he threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown. This was a momentum-changing killer, a forced throw to Plaxico Burress that was picked by CB Andre Goodman. It made it 10-10. It was Sanchez’s third pick-six of the season.
It was another maddeningly inconsistent performance by Sanchez. He completed 11 straight passes at one point, but he missed a wide-open Dustin Keller in the end zone and made two clock-management errors -- one week after getting ripped by Rex Ryan for a botched timeout.
But say this for Sanchez: He’s one tough hombre. He took a beating in the second half, getting drilled twice by Denver pass rushers, but he managed to lead a drive that resulted in a 42-yard field goal and a 13-10 lead. Nevertheless, the Jets have to be concerned as they look forward.
Brutal special teams: This is supposed to be a strength, but the special teams were awful all night. Joe McKnight fumbled on a third-quarter kickoff return (his second lost fumble in five days), Nick Folk missed two field goals (52 and 61 yards) and P T.J. Conley shanked a 13-yarder. Give Folk credit; he rebounded to make a 45-yard FG that gave the Jets the lead in the fourth quarter.
Painful injury: The Jets, already without the injured LaDainian Tomlinson (sprained knee), lost starting running back Shonn Greene (ribs) in the first quarter. Greene caught a four-yard screen pass and landed on the ball as he hit the ground, causing him to grimace in pain. It’s a familiar injury for Greene, who suffered a severe rib injury in the 2009 AFC Championship Game.
Makeshift backfield: Without Greene and Tomlinson, the backfield consisted of special-teams star Joe McKnight and rookie Bilal Powell, who made his NFL debut. That hurt the Jets’ pass protection because neither McKnight nor Powell is a good blocker.
Powell actually made the best bad play of the game -- yes, you read that correctly. On a second down from the Broncos’ 1, Powell fumbled in a crowd. It squirted across the goal line and LG Matt Slauson pounced on it for the touchdown to give the Jets a 10-3 lead.
McKnight is an undisciplined runner, but he ran hard between the tackles and was effective on screen passes. The Jets aren’t a big screen offense, but they exploited the Broncos’ rush with well-timed screen passes.
Rare score: How fitting that the first touchdown in the ugliest of games was scored by a 325-pound guard from Nebraska. The way the Jets’ offense was playing, it wasn’t going to come from one of their skill-position players. Get this: Slauson’s TD was the first by a Jets offensive lineman since G Randy Rasmussen in 1972.
All quiet on Revis Island: Just as he expected, Darrelle Revis didn’t get much action against the run-heavy Broncos. Best we can tell, he didn’t fall asleep.
What’s ahead: The Jets get a 10-day break before resuming against the Buffalo Bills in a home game. The Jets dominated the first meeting, 27-11.