Sunday, November 18, 2012
Halftime: Jets 13, Rams 7
By Rich Cimini
ST. LOUIS -- A quick take on the first half:
1. Opportunistic defense. The Jets' defense came to play, forcing two turnovers in the first half -- both in Rams territory. S Eric Smith made a nice interception at the Rams' 13, jumping an "out" route. DE Muhammad Wilkerson, continuing to play at a high level, recorded a strip sack. It was a scoop and run for LB Bart Scott, allowing the offense to set up at the Rams' 28. Save for a poor opening drive, the defense responded nicely, pressuring QB Sam Bradford.
2. Minor miracle -- a touchdown. After producing only nine points in their previous two games, the Jets erupted for 13 points. That's sarcasm, folks. Capitalizing on the short field after the Wilkerson strip sack, QB Mark Sanchez hit an open Chaz Schilens for a 25-yard TD to give the Jets a 10-7 lead. Sanchez played well in the first half. He completed nine for 13 passes for 118 yards -- victimized by two drops, including another killer by rookie WR Stephen Hill.
3. Lineup shakeups. The Jets rotated their wide receivers more than usual, giving most of the playing time to Schilens and Clyde Gates. Kerley, bothered by hamstring and heel injuries, played less than usual. At running back, Shonn Greene started but was replaced by stretches by Joe McKnight, who provided more burst. And, oh yes, the Jets used CB Antonio Cromartie for four plays at receiver.
4. Brutal special teams. The Jets' kicking units haven't been this bad in a long, long time. They were unsuccessful on perhaps the worst fake punt in history. Up-back Tim Tebow took the snap and flipped a shovel pass to Lex Hilliard, who was stopped for a one-yard loss. Wait, there was more: There was a blocked FG on a 26-yard attempt by Nick Folk, who also had two 51-yarders. The Jets caught a huge break when a 95-yard kickoff return by the Rams was nullified by a holding penalty.
5. Sparano vs. Schotty. Neither offense played great in the anticipated showdown between Tony Sparano and former Jets OC Brian Schottenheimer. The Jets outgained the Rams, 154-143, but the Rams lost their best weapon, WR Danny Amendola (foot) in the second quarter. Bradford looked lost without him.