Some thoughts and observations after breaking down a tape of the Jets' 34-19 win over the Redskins:
IF AT FIRST ...: The game-changing play was Mark Sanchez's 30-yard TD pass to Santonio Holmes with 4:49 remaining. A closer look reveals that the Jets ran the same exact play moments earlier, but Sanchez couldn't get the ball to Holmes because of a slot blitz by CB Kevin Barnes.
On third-and-4 from the Redskins' 45, Sanchez looked for Holmes on a slant-and-go, using a pump/shoulder fake to bait the defender, but he had to abort when Barnes came in clean. Sanchez demonstrated his improv ability, sliding in the pocket and flipping a 10-yard pass to RB Shonn Greene.
Obviously, coordinator Brian Schottenheimer felt really good about the slant-and-go because, one play later, he called it again. They used the same personnel grouping (three WRs) and the same formation, with Sanchez in shotgun. This time, the Redskins didn't blitz and CB Josh Wilson bit hard on the double move (and Sanchez's fake), allowing Holmes to get wide open.
DID YOU NOTICE?: The first non-WR to reach Holmes in the end zone for the post-TD congratulation was RG Brandon Moore. Do you believe in symbolism? Earlier in the season, Moore, upset with Holmes' public criticism of the offensive line, fired back by questioning his teammate's leadership. It was an ugly mess that threatened to split the team.
Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but I thought Moore's gesture was a cool thing -- either that, or he can run 30 yards faster than the other linemen.
UNFORCED ERRORS: The Jets made a bunch of mental errors, just routine, game-management stuff that shouldn't happen. If they don't clean it up, it'll come back to bite them against a better opponent. Stuff like:
• Sanchez took a delay-of-game penalty, later burned a timeout before a third-and-23 play -- pointless -- and wasted yet another timeout because there was confusion as the play clock was about to expire.
• There was an illegal-substitution penalty because they had 12 men in the huddle, apparently because they wanted to run the Wildcat and there was some confusion.
• On his 9-yard TD run, 3:42 to play, Greene took a direct snap with 10 seconds left on the play clock. At that point, they should've been milking as much time as possible.
• After fielding the Redskins' onsides kick with 1:59 left, Antonio Cromartie should've gone down instead of returning it. The way they've been mishanding the ball on special teams, why risk a fumble?
• On his 25-yard TD run, with 1:47 left, Greene should've taken a knee at the 1. They would've been able to run out the clock instead of having to kick off and play more defense.
These might seem like little things, but little things can become big things in the crucible of December football.
MAYBIN ON THE MOVE: With Aaron Maybin beginning to garner more attention from opposing offenses, the Jets added a defensive wrinkle, moving him around the formation instead of having him rush from the same spot on every play. Unofficially, he played a season-high 38 snaps. Remarkably, the Redskins ran the ball only three times with Maybin on the field, which played into the Jets' hands because he isn't a good run defender.
Here's a breakdown on where Maybin lined up:
Left side: 17 plays (one sack, two pressures)
Middle: 3 plays
Right side: 18 plays
EMBRACEABLE TWO: If you were watching on TV, you probably were wondering why Rex Ryan and Schottenheimer -- both fired up -- actually hugged after Shonn Greene's 9-yard TD run in the fourth quarter (aside from the obvious reason, of course). Afterward, Ryan shed light on it, explaining that he actually called the play, not Schottenheimer. Judging by the smile on his face, Schottenheimer was more than okay with that.
It was a direct snap to Greene, but they used their "power" running scheme, per Ryan's suggestion. This is their bread-and-butter running play, where the left guard (Matt Slauson) pulls to his right and the back follows him through the right-guard gap. They've been running it for three years, starting with Alan Faneca at left guard. On this play, Slauson blew open a hole, clearing the way for Greene.
REX OFFENDERS: The Jets experienced a few early hiccups against QB Rex Grossman, but defensive coordinator Mike Pettine brought more heat in the second half and that worked like a charm.
In the first half, they sent five or more pass rushers on only three of 20 dropbacks, but they increased it to nine out of 28 in the second half, unofficially. Overall, Grossman was 4-for-12 for 47 yards against the extra pressure.
Both sacks came on four-man rushes. On Maybin's game-clinching strip sack, the Jets got to Grossman even though the Redskins used a max-protection scheme -- seven blockers. The Jets sent Maybin, LB Calvin Pace, DE Marcus Dixon and CB Donald Strickland. Maybin beat RT Jammal Brown with a nice change-of-direction move to the inside.
McIVER, RE-VISTED: In the third quarter, Sanchez took a blow to the head that never should've happened. The play was blown dead because of a false start on TE Dustin Keller, but a blitzing Barnes didn't hear the whistle and lowered his helmet into Sanchez, which may result in a fine. The Jets were lucky because Sanchez could've ended up like Boomer Esiason in 1995.
Facing the Bills, Esiason suffered a serious concussion on a hit by Bruce Smith, who didn't stop when untested LT Everett McIver was flagged for a false start. Esiason ended up missing a few games.
ODDS AND ENDS: TE Matt Mulligan is getting killed for his penalty problems, but did anybody notice he pancaked LB Brian Orakpo on Greene's 1-yard TD run in the first quarter? ... LB Bart Scott's tipped pass, on a throw in the flat to WR Jabar Gaffney, was a huge play that may have saved a 61-yard TD -- or at least a long gainer ... How brutal was the third quarter? The teams combined for only two first downs ... Consultant Tom Moore was in the coaches' booth, wearing a headset.