The New York Jets kicker had just drilled the most important kick of his career, of his team's season, and, quite arguably, in franchise history. Thirty-two yards dead straight away. The time to examine flaws will come soon enough. It was time to celebrate.
What took place at the Lucas Oil Stadium Saturday night was not atheistically pleasing. In fact, much of the Jets' 17-16 Wild Card round win over the Colts, could aptly be described as cringe-inducing. Still, the Jets will take the win without apologizing and begin preparing for their third 2010-11 date with hated AFC East rival New England.
If the Jets are to win in Foxboro, they will have to be better offensively than they were Saturday night. That responsibility falls on directly on Brian Schottenheimer and Mark Sanchez. Sanchez missed his targets high, wide and low all game long. Sanchez completed 18-of-31 passes for 189 yards but never seemed comfortable in the pocket. Most disturbingly, Sanchez threw back-to-back-to-back terrible passes at the end of the first half, culminating with a Justin Tryon pick on the goal line.
The key to the Jets win was the rushing attack. Schottenheimer took the game out of Sanchez's hands in the second half. Instead, the decision was made to give the Jets' offensive line and running backs the responsibility to win the game.
It paid off.
The Jets pounded the Colts defense for 169 yards. LaDainian Tomlinson scored two one-yard touchdowns and finished with 82 yards on the ground. Shonn Greene rushed for 70 yards on 19 carries. Brad Smith as the option quarterback carried twice for 11 yards.
The Jets defense was marvelous against Peyton Manning and the throw first, last and always Colts. Manning finished 18-of-26 passing for 225 yards, and Joseph Addai (60) and Dominic Rhodes (33) combined for 96 rushing yards but the Colts were limited to three Adam Vinatieri (47, 32 and 50) field goals.
Rex Ryan's lone concern will Antonio Cromartie's coverage. Cromartie was burned by Manning and Pierre Garcon for the game's first score—a 57-yard touchdown with 5:25 remaining in the second quarter—which led to a chewing out from the coach on the sidelines. It was the lone failing of a defensive unit that kept the Jets in the game.