The New York Jets did a great job stepping up and winning ugly on Monday night, just about killing the playoff dreams for a quarter of the teams in the AFC. Chad Pennington was terrible for the first three quarters, but the Jets somehow converted a few big third and absurds in the fourth to keep it together. The defense was brilliant for most of the game, constantly pressuring Joey Harrington and Cleo Lemon. While Mangini might get too much credit, his team was fired up on defense, made some big stops, recovered from two crushing blows on special teams (the fumble, and the missed hold), and did not turn the ball over on offense.
If we're doling out kudos, chalk it up to the punter Ben Graham, who kicked the snot out of the ball, and put a ball at the one yard line. The "bad hold" was not fully his fault, the snap was high, and the further a ball is from the body in the rain, the harder it is to catch. We'll divvy up the blame, fifty percent Graham, 10 Percent Dearth (the snapper), and 50 percent AROD. On another note, its kind of irritating that punters don't get coverage anymore, rarely do announcers say the distance of a punt, and the hangtime counter has mysteriously disappeared. Which reminds me, who are all of these punters in the league now, did the NFL all of a sudden turn over half of its punters?
On the other sideline, Nick Saban really shot himself in the foot. He has Ronnie Brown averaging 6.1 ypc, but decides instead to put the ball in the hands of Joey Harrington, and then a guy whose last name is Lemon. Brown had 16 for 110, which was not a skewed figure either (longest run was 17). What even worse about this, the ball was a field position game being played in the rain for the majority of it. Nick Saban was badly outcoached.
ESPN's coverage of the game was atrocious. The computer introduction to the game was a combination between Blade Runner, and an ill concieved. During the second quarter, they decided it was better to speculate for a good ten minutes about Nick Saban's future, than actually cover the game. They even made this the main point of conversation with NFL legend Don Shula, showing no respect for the Hall of Fame coach. Their halftime highlights were a flashback to that wonderful glow puck era of hockey. And what the hell is with these fast forwarded, roadrunner leg highlights? Did they not get the memo from NFL films that football looks better slower. Guess it gave them more time to talk about that other game in Miami. Shame on ESPNBA.
Also, did you catch Jimmy Kimmel's shout out to JB, Terry, Howie, and Chris. There was a quick, ho-hum stun in the studio like someone had just smacked their kid in the cereal aisle. It's also a shame the ESPN guys called the first half boring. A lot of big hits, and great defense . They're also the same guys who called Chad Pennington's 14-29 performance "accurate."
Something else interesting was that pass intereference play on Coles. It looked like the Miami corner pulled his towel out of his pocket, and put in the face of Coles. What's the deal with being able to do that? In general, Gerry Austin called a great game. There were no questionable calls aside from the first down spotting in the first quarter. The fifteen yarder on the Dolphins center might have seemed a bit gratiutous, but it made a strong, early, no bullshit statement. He let the guys play and let the game decide itself.
To be a little nitpicky~ What was Mangini trying to ice Olindo Mare at with about 2 minutes to go? Just threw away a timeout before the team would have to start the two minute drill. Is there really a point trying to ice a proven NFL Kicker. Yes, he had the lowest FG% in the leage this year, but a huge part of that was skewed, due to a 1-6 on 50+ yard attempts. But if thats the only thing you can hate on Mangini for, helluva job. No turnovers on offense, no bad penalites, and an incredibly tough and gritty performance.
Props to Leon Washington and the Jets Defense, for winning this game.
Poor Brad Kassell.
Wonder if Laverneues Coles remembers having played this game?