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Don’t let the score fool you; this game was closer than it appears on paper. For the second straight week, the New York Jets played three quarters of mediocre football and picked things up to win the game in the fourth quarter. Led by Shonn Greene’s three touchdowns, the Jets managed to win another close game to put them right into the thick of the AFC Wildcard race.
It took a big play from Aaron Maybin to spark the team when he sacked Rex Grossman, and forced a fumble that set up one of Greene’s two touchdowns. The other big play came on the series before when Mark Sanchez found Santonio Holmes for a 30-yard touchdown pass to put the Jets ahead for good with just under five minutes to play.
With the Jets needing to win out to make the playoffs, Sanchez again came up big when it mattered most. The win keeps the Jets in the hunt for the last wildcard spot as they got some help with Oakland and Cincinnati losing. “It tells us we have to get better,” Rex Ryan said. “Sometimes, you don’t like it to come down to that.”
Getting better is an understatement, as the Jets only had 168 total yards after three quarters against the Redskins, a team that has lost seven of eight games. Sanchez only had 165 yards on 19 of 32 passing and one touchdown, but didn’t throw an interception for the first time in five games. For the second straight week, the offensive line didn’t allow a sack.
Greene contributed with 88 yards on 22 carries and saw much of the workload despite LaDainian Tomlinson returning after missing two weeks with a knee injury. “It was rough the first half,” Greene said. “But we just kept together and kept plugging away.” Grossman ran 19 of 46 for 221 yards, and had one interception and afumble that halted any chance of Washington mounting a comeback.
The fumble was recovered by Calvin Pace, and Greene turned it into six with a nine-yard run out of the wildcat. “That was just one of those situations where we knew as a defense it was crunch time,” said Maybin, “We’ve been in those situations.” The Jets were trailing 16-13 with just under eight minutes to go, but a hit-or-miss kickoff was returned to midfield.That’s when Sanchez scrambled to avoid the sack, and completed a pass on third and four to Greene for 10 yards. Two plays later, he found Holmes wide open for the long score.
A bright spot for the Redskins, Fred Davis, who has been having a great season, had six catches for 99 yards. After the game, news broke that both he and left tackle, Trent Williams, are going to be suspended for the rest of the season for breaking the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
Rookie running back Roy Helu also had a good game rushing for 100 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries. His score came at the beginning of the game to put Washington up 7-0. The Jets came right back with a 17 play, 74-yard drive to score the tying score. With this second late surge in a row, Ryan thinks the Jets are on their way to their third straight playoff appearance.
“We know where we think we’re going,” he said. “More confident than 100 percent? I don’t know about that.”
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