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Sunday, December 11, 2011
Rapid Reaction: Jets 37, Chiefs 10

By Rich Cimini



EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- After two straight fourth-quarter comeback victories, the New York Jets breezed to a 37-10 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

What it means: The Jets (8-5) won their third straight, making the late-season charged that Rex Ryan predicted last month after a crushing loss in Denver. They moved ahead of the Cincinnati Bengals (7-6) in the race for the final wild-card spot.

Cheers, Mark: Two weeks ago, QB Mark Sanchez was booed by the home crowd in the pregame introductions -- and it became a big story. This time, he received a nice, but not overwhelming ovation -- and he responded by playing one of his most efficient games as a Jet.

Sanchez became the first quarterback in team history to rush for two touchdowns and pass for two touchdowns in the same game, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Sanchez (13-for-21, 181 yards, no interceptoins) made it look easy against a surprisingly inept Kansas City defense.

Nice plan: The Jets neutralized the Chiefs' outside pass rushers, using two- and three-tight end packages. In fact, they used backup OL Vladimir Ducasse as an extra tight end on at least 15 snaps through the first three quarters. They also gashed the Chiefs with a couple of long-gaining screen passes. This was power football, a well-designed game plan by coordinator Brian Schottenheimer -- and consultant Tom Moore, for the conspiracy theorists out there.

The Palko project: Bad quarterback or great defense? Yes, the Jets were terrific, but let’s not anoint them as an elite defense just yet. Chiefs QB Tyler Palko, making his fourth start for the injured Matt Cassel, was absolutely brutal. He was rattled, missed open receivers, made dumb throws and … well, we could go on, but we'll stop there. He was sacked five times and completed only 16 of 32 passes for 195 yards and an interception.

Rarely in the NFL do you see this kind of domination. The Jets outgained the Chiefs in the first half, 253-4. Defensively, the Jets did whatever they wanted to go, controlling the line of scrimmage against a solid rushing attack. The Chiefs (5-8), who began the day with faint playoff hopes, should be ashamed of their effort.

Bad break: For the second straight year, the Jets apparently will be without safety Jim Leonhard for the stretch run. Leonhard suffered a potentially serious knee injury on a fluke play in the second quarter. He made an interception, but his right knee was twisted when he tried to escape the grasp of WR Steve Breaston. Leonhard had to be helped off the field and was carted to the locker room. Leonhard slammed his fist as he left the field, an ominous sign.

This would be a major blow for the Jets. Leonhard is an every-down safety, the quarterback of the secondary. When he broke his leg last December, it wasn't easy for the defense to get acclimated without him. They'll go without Eric Smith and Brodney Pool as their safeties. They'd also lose their most sure-handed punt returner.

Greene is money: For the second straight week, RB Shonn Greene was the running back he was expected to be, rushing for a touchdown and 129 yards. He was patient, making excellent reads as he waited for the zone-blocking scheme to open holes. They also mixed in LaDainian Tomlinson, who scored on a screen pass.

What's ahead: The Jets travel to face the Philadelphis Eagles, a battle between two teams that faced enormous preseason expectations. The Eagles crumbled, the Jets still are battling.