I think it's now time to take the Jets seriously as a contender in the AFC this season. The Jets managed to not only beat the undefeated Tennessee Titans in Tennessee, but they steamrolled them in the processby a score of 34-13. New York now sits at 8-3 on the season and could be in a position to get a bye week for the first round of the playoffs. Of course we are still five weeks away, but the Jets have put themselves in a very good position after Sunday's win against the Titans.
Brett Favre is showing everyone that there is still some gas left in the tank. Favre managed the game very effectively once again. On the day Favre was 25-32 for 224 yards and 2 touchdowns. I believe there were two huge moments in the game. The first was a Chris Johnson fumble in the 3rd quarter. At the time, the Jets were leading 13-3. The Titans were getting a drive together when Johnson coughed up the ball. Favre was able to put together an 8 play drive that ate up almost 5 minutes of game clock that ended with a 2 yard touchdown pass to Laveranues Coles in the back of the end zone in double coverage. That gave the Jets a 20-3 lead late in the 3rd and from that point on they were in the drivers seat.
The other key moment was the Jets last drive on the 4th quarter. After the Titans put together a 4 play 66 yard drive late in the 4th quarter that ended in a touchdown that cut the score to 27-13, the Jets took over. Favre was able to lead the Jets offense on a 12 play 75 yard drive that ended with a 4 yard touchdown run by Leon Washington. The key to that drive was the fact that it ate up 7:34 off the clock. It gave the Titans the ball back with 2:09 remaining in the game trailing 34-13. Favre was hitting open receivers all day. His new favorite target, Dustin Keller, had his 3rd straight big game. He hauled in 6 catches for 42 yards. Not as big as his last two games, but did have some key catches on 3rd down. He has become a very reliable option for Favre over the last month. Coles had the big day for the receivers, grabbing 7 balls for 88 yards and a TD. Jerricho Cotchery also grabbed 6 catches for 55 yards. Brett's only mistake in the game was an interception by Cortland Finnegan in the second quarter. Finnegan made a one handed catch with Coles all over him. Other than that, Brett was near perfect.
The Jets running game had a huge day. Thomas Jones, who coming into the game was the AFC's leading rusher, was able to rack up 96 yards against a very sound Tennessee run defense who was ranked 10th in the league heading into the game giving up about 95 yards per game. Jones was able to do that on 27 carries. He has really become the Jets workhorse over the past 2 months. Washington also contributed with 82 yards rushing on his own. He was able to gain that on only 8 carries. He got most of it on a 61 yard touchdown run early in the 4th quarter in which he bolted to the end zone almost untouched. He didn't have his usual big day on special teams that we have all come to expect, but he always seems to contribute in a big way each week. In all the Jets ran for 192 yards against Tennessee. New York's offensive line was great again as you can see from the rushing stats. But they also managed to keep Favre upright for most of the game, only allowing 2 sacks. The line has really come together over the last 6 weeks. This has allowed the running game to improve each week as well as letting Favre have time in the pocket to be able to make big plays.
The Jets defense also had a huge day. The defensive line put together one of it's biggest efforts of the season. The Titans who had been rushing for an average of 133 yards per game were limited to a season low of 45 yards on the ground. The defense, led by Kris Jenkins and Calvin Pace were able to take the running game totally away from the Titans. This meant that the game was left to Kerry Collins against a spotty Jets pass defense. New York's secondary, which was torched by Matt Cassel for 400 yards last week, had a strong game against Tennessee. Collins, who does not make mistakes and did not in this game, was held to 243 yards in the air for 1 touchdown. With the running game being shut down, Collins was never able to get into a groove. The Jets secondary, which has been having a good week followed by a bad week all season, had a good week in a big spot. Collins was able to get the ball to nine different receivers, but none of them had more that 43 yards receiving. Even with the Jets offense turning the ball over three times and the defense only forcing one turnover, the Jets defense still managed to step it up and dominate the Titans offense. One key stat for the Jets was the fact that they dominated the time of possession. They controlled the ball for over 40 minutes. That is just straight domination.
New York is really hitting their stride at the right time. They have now won 5 straight games and 7 of their last 8. Currently, they are tied with the Steelers for the second best record in the AFC at 8-3. I know it's early to get too excited with five weeks remaining and two trips out to the west coast ahead, but this is getting exciting for Jets fans. The rest of the league has now been put on notice. After huge wins against the Patriots and Titans in back to back weeks, both on the road, the Jets are now a huge factor in the AFC. This is something that has not happened in about ten years when Vinny Testaverde led the Jets to a 12-4 record and got the Jets within 30 minutes of going to the Super Bowl.