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As dysfunctional and circus-like as the New York Jets (2-3) have been this season, the undefeated Houston Texans (5-0) nearly didn’t make it out of East Rutherford, New Jersey with their fifth consecutive win.
Thanks to Arian Foster’s 152 yards on 29 carries, including a 13 yard touchdown run to break a 7-7 tie with 11:11 remaining in the first half, the Texans staved off the surging Jets in the fourth quarter for their first win against New York in franchise history, 23-17.
“Arian stepped up and played huge,” said Texans quarterback Matt Schaub, who only completed 14 of 28 pass attempts for 209 yards, one touchdown and one interception. “We’re very excited to be 5-0 and get a win on the road.”
Mark Sanchez’s 27 yard touchdown pass to tight end Jeff Cumberland, which tied the game at seven late in the first quarter, was exactly the spark that the Jets had been looking for from their painfully anemic offense.
Two crucial interceptions thrown by Sanchez, however, overshadowed his 230 yards through the air and impressive touchdown pass. One was tipped by Texans’ defensive end, J.J. Watt, and returned all the way back to the New York nine yard line by cornerback, Brice McCain, with just 14 seconds left in the first half and the Jets only trailing 14-7 at the time.
McCain’s pick completely flipped the complexion of the game. What could have been a tied or four point game entering halftime with the Jets having moved the ball 81 yards all the way down to the Houston 12 yard line, suddenly became a two possession 17-7 Texans’ lead going into the locker room after the interception was converted into a short field goal.
Many speculated throughout the week that this could be the game where backup, Tim Tebow, could finally receive more snaps and make a case for replacing Sanchez as the starting quarterback. Unfortunately, Tebow only substituted for Sanchez on six plays, throwing one pass, an incompletion downfield, and totaling 19 yards with five option rushes.
Sanchez’s second and final interception came at the most inopportune time for the struggling Jets. Behind 23-17 with less than three and a half minutes left in the game, New York, despite their inability to contain Foster or find any true offensive flow, found themselves with the football at their own 16 yard line with a chance to steal the game.
“I honestly thought we were going to drive down the field and score a touchdown on the last drive,” Jets wide receiver Chaz Schilens said. “It’s not going the right way.”
The Jets would make it as far as their own 32 before Sanchez’s pass to Cumberland popped up in the air and was intercepted on 3rd and 18 by cornerback, Kareem Jackson.
A steady diet of Foster handoffs after the Houston takeaway ran out all but 4 seconds on the clock, and the Texans survived.
“It’s definitely our best start,” said Texans tight end, Owen Daniels, who hauled in a wide open 34 yard touchdown reception on the game’s opening possession. “And a big part of that is it doesn’t matter on this team about stats or individually what is going on. It’s great to be a part of something like that.”
Image Courtesy of Houston Texans