Ground Control, we have liftoff
It started early, and it was loud…. No, not the Black Hole.
Sunday was all about the Jets defense (Welcome back Calvin Pace), getting to JaMarcus Russell early and often, and forcing the Raiders QB into making mistake after mistake, until Tom Cable had seen enough and subbed in Bruce Gradkowski late in the second quarter. The Defense was on a mission today. They would not let Mark Sanchez, or anyone else for that matter, ruin this opportunity.
After the Defense made their point, the Jets running game all but destroyed any chances Darth Vadar and the rest of the Imperial empire fanbase had in making an impact on the game.
The Jets ran for 316 yards, including 121 yards and a TD from Thomas Jones on 26 carries and 144 yards and 2 TDs from Rookie Shonn Greene on 19 carries, playing for the injured Leon Washington who went down in the first quarter with a potentially serious ankle injury. Greene’s ability to break through the hole with quick speed was evident throughout the entire game, and will allow Jets fans to forget about Washington’s injury for the moment.
The Jets began the First Quarter with Pace stripping the ball from Russell on the Raiders first play from scrimmage, giving the Jets the ball on the Raiders 5. (Pace would finish with 3 sacks and 2 fumbles forced).
After 3 consecutive runs up the middle, Jones finally broke through on 4th down and gave the Jets a 7-0 lead.
After a Jim Leonhard INT from a blitz nervous Russell, QB Mark Sanchez, in his homecoming to Sunny L.A., ran a draw play to score and give the Jets a 14-0 lead.
The Raiders were able to run with some effectiveness, but Darrell Revis made a beautiful INT catch off Russell in the Jets endzone to keep the momentum swinging in the Jets favor.
After a 10 play, 93 yard drive, culminating in Greene’s first TD, the Jets took a commanding 21-0 lead and never looked back.
At the half, the Jets had rushed the ball 30 times, compared to 10 passes.
With a running game that eventually racked up over 300 yards, it was easy to overlook the efficiency of the offense on third down. Reminiscient of the Jets opener at Houston, Sanchez looked relaxed and poised and continuously found his targets for first downs.
Of course when the running game gets going, it opens up the field to long passes, which is exactly what happened when Sanchez let one go and found David Clowney for a 35 yard TD pass.
In the end, the Jets were able to use their blitzing defense and power running game to bully the Raiders into submission. Missed opportunities by Revis and Donald Strickland to make INT’s and return them for TDs will be easily overlooked this game. This game was over after the first quarter and you could tell Sanchez was having a good time, as evidenced by his display in the 4th quarter when cameras caught the QB putting mustard on a hot dog and devouring it in a few bites.
Washington’s status will be watched with a careful eye, and it should not surprise anyone if he is lost for the season with a broken ankle. The drafting of Greene appears to be more valuable now than ever. If Washington is out, look for Greene to get 10-15 touches a game as a nice substitute for Jones and his power game.
Bart Scott went down late in the game with an apparent knee injury but was able to walk off the field without assistance.
The Jets converted another fake punt for a first down, again faking the punt deep in their zone.
This was the first time since November 1, 2004 where the Jets had 2, 100 yard rushers. (Curtis Martin and LaMont Jordan).
The Jets have run for 611 yards in the past two weeks; the most in team history in consecutive games.
The Jets are the second team since 1960 with back to back 300 yard rushing games (1975 Bills)
UPDATE: Leon Washington suffered a broken fibula and had immediate surgery. Looks like he is out for the season.