Mark Sanchez's four game turnover-less streak ended Sunday in Denver. Sanchez had two of his first three pass attempts fall in and out of the arms of Denver cornerbacks Champ Bailey and Perrish Cox, marking an inauspicious start to the day. Five minutes into the first quarter, Bronco's linebacker Jason Hunter stepped in front of a pass intended for Jerricho Cotchery, intercepting it, returning the ball to the Jets 18 yard line. Despite a subpar passing day, Sanchez led his team back, down 20-17, with 3:55 left in regulation. The Jets drove 82 yards on 10 plays, with Tomlinson's two yard touchdown charge putting the exclamation on the comeback drive. #6 would finish the day 17-30 for 198 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Props to Sanchez for getting it done when it counts the most.
The Jets number one ranked ground and pound attack was largely held in check by Denver's run defense. The offensive line could not catch their breath in the mile high air and were unable to create seams for the Jets' running backs. Tomlinson was New York's leading ball carrier, gathering 16 touches, 55 yards and two touchdowns. While the rushing game was largely ineffective through three quarters, the Jets were able to break through in the final quarter. LaDanian Tomlinson punctuated the Jets' scoring drives with a 20 yard burst to tie the game, and a two- yard dive to win it. Down, but never out.
The Jet' secondary stagnated Denver's passing game, forcing Kyle Orton into his worst performance of the season. Orton suffered season lows in: quarterback rating (71.8), completion percentage (14/34), passing yardage (209) and yards per completion (6.9). The Jets pass defense did an outstanding job of overcoming questionable officiating, as well as a hampered Darrelle Revis, putting the clamps on Denver's air assault. Cornerback Drew Coleman had himself a whale of a game, tallying five tackles, (one for a loss), a pass deflection, and a timely strip of Knowshon Moreno, turning the ball over for New York outside the Jets red zone, on Denver's first possession of the game.
Anemic, pathetic and dismal were all appropriate ways to characterize Denver's running game entering Sunday's game with New York. The Bronco's ranked last in virtually every rushing statistic, while Kyle Orton led Denver, averaging 2.9 yards per rush through the team's first five games. Not only were the Broncos able to run on the Jets' fourth ranked rushing defense; Denver actually outgained New York 145-129 in rushing yardage, while averaging a season high 3.9 yards a carry.
Special teams was a bright spot for New York for the second consecutive game. Kicker Nick Folk blasted a 56-yard field goal midway through the third quarter, tying the score at 10-10 and in the process he set a new Jets franchise record for longest field goal kick. New York's special teams was caught napping when following Tim Tebow's third quarter touchdown run, the Broncos sprung a surprise onside kick and recovered the ball uncontested. Punter Steve Weatherford took full advantage of the mile high air blasting five punts for an average of nearly 49 yards a kick, with a long of 54 yards on one kick.
The play-calling seemed stymied by Sanchez's two first-half interceptions, with visions of last year's loss to Buffalo clearly in the coaching staff's minds. The fact that Denver ran the ball so well was the result of the Jets focusing on stopping Denver in the air. New York looked best when blitzing, something that Orton seemed at times to struggle with. An uneasy performance by anyone wearing a headset on Sunday.