By Michael Felger
A few things:
Here's an example of why the Jets will ultimately come up short this year:
Late Monday night, in the final minutes of the fourth quarter in their harder-than-it-should-have-been victory over Minnesota, the Jets had an easy chance to kill the clock and put the game out of reach well before Brett Favre puked on his shoes. Only they blew it.
The Jets had just gotten a first down on a Mark Sanchez pass to Santonio Holmes when the Vikings called their last timeout with 2:47 left on the clock. At that point, the Jets basically needed a seven-second play to end the game. A pitch to the outside, or a rollout by Sanchez, or some other slow-developing play, would have done the trick. Heck, Sanchez could have run backwards 15 yards. It didn't matter. The play didn't have to gain any yards, it just had to get them to the two-minute warning. With Minnesota out of timeouts, the Jets then could have taken two knees, milked the 40-second clock down to the last seconds each time, and punted the ball away to the Vikings with around 30 seconds left in the game.
Instead, the Jets called a quick dive into the line, forcing them to snap the ball once more before the two-minute warning. And making matters worse, they called a pass. That play ended up bouncing incomplete with 2:04 left, which necessitated another snap before the two-minute warning. Another incomplete. The Jets then punted away with a hefty 1:56 left in the game, which was more than enough time for Favre to move the Vikings into field-goal range.
Thankfully for the Jets, Favre turned into Favre (he's the most overrated two-minute quarterback in the history of football, folks) and Randy Moss was his usual do-nothing self when it counted so New York escaped with the victory.
But Rex Ryan and the Jets won't be so lucky against Tom Brady or Peyton Manning or Ben Roethlisberger down the line. Ultimately, that poor attention to detail is going to cost them.
Meanwhile, I feel bad for the fans of Minnesota. You think you got a guy to put you over the top. Instead, you got a guy who is going to score a touchdown or two a game but won't make an appreciable difference in your won-loss record.
I witnessed Monday night's game from the stands at the New Meadowlands and I basically spent most of my time watching Randy. What I saw was Moss running about 40 vertical routes down the numbers and that's about it. Antonio Cromartie had him covered most of the time. Sometimes Favre threw it up to him, sometimes he didn't. The net impact was a lovely 37-yard touchdown strike in the third quarter and not much else (Moss finished with four catches on 10 targets).
Get used to it, Minnesota.
And see you next year.
(That said, I loved the Vikings' first play: a pass from Moss to Favre out of a double-reverse. The play was called back on a penalty, but so what? It was fun. I wonder if that came from Brad Childress, or if Moss and Favre just drew it up in the huddle).
Finally, you folks are going to like Deion Branch back in the Patriots offense. He won't make any one-handed, 40-yard touchdown catches in the back of the end zone over Darrelle Revis, but he'll move the chains and make Brady feel comfortable.
Dumping Moss for Branch is the best move the Pats have made in a long, long time.
The AFC championship game is scheduled for Jan. 23. See you there.
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