Monday, October 8, 2012

Shorthanded Jets fall to Texans


EAST RUTHERFORD — Plenty of people were ready to write the Jets obituary before Monday night’s showdown with the Houston Texans, but by all accounts Rex Ryan’s crew was able to stave off the reaper for at least another week.

The Jets lost to the Texans, 23-17, at MetLife Stadium, but looked considerably better doing so than they did in last weekend’s debacle against the San Francisco 49ers. Against a team many consider to be the best in football, the Jets had the ball down by six points with less than two minutes to play in the game, but came up empty on the their biggest drive.

“The objective is to win, so of course everybody is upset,” quarterback Mark Sanchez said. “At the same time, you have to give yourself a chance to win, and we did that tonight.”

On third and 18 with just 1:37 left to play, Sanchez threw what looked to be a high but catchable pass to tight end Jeff Cumberland. The ball ricocheted off Cumberland’s hands and landed in those of Texans corner Kareem Jackson for a game-ending interception.

“Jeff made some great catches for us tonight,” Sanchez said. “He’s not going to make them all, nobody is.”

That play was Sanchez’s second unlucky pick of the night. Just before halftime, the Jets had driven deep into Houston territory. Sanchez tried to hit Jeremy Kerley on a quick slant, but the ball was tipped at the line by Texans defensive end J.J. Watt. That ball found corner Brice McCain, who returned it 86 yards, setting up a field goal.

“J.J Watt is the real deal,” coach Rex Ryan said. “You’d think the Nets would pick him up, with all the shot blocking he did.”

Early in the game, it looked like the Texans might run away with it. Quarterback Matt Schaub threw a 34-yard touchdown strike to tight end Owen Daniels on the game’s first drive. After an Antonio Cromartie pick, the Jets answered with a 27-yard touchdown pass to Cumberland.

Two possessions later, Arian Foster gashed the Jets defense for 60 yards and a touchdown on three straight carries. The Texans went into the half up 17-7.

“He was exceptional,” Houston coach Gary Kubiak said of Foster. “He’s what makes us go.”

The momentum swung in the Jets' favor in the third after a Houston field goal. Tailback Joe McKnight took the ensuing kickoff the full 100 yards for a touchdown, bringing his team within a single score at 20-14.

“I felt we had the momentum after that, but we just have to finish and play all four quarters,” McKnight said.

Ryan then tried to steal a possession by attempting an onside kick. Though it appeared as if receiver Chaz Schilens had come down with the football, the Texans recovered, setting up another field goal for kicker Shayne Graham.

“That was me all the way,” Ryan said. “I came here to win.”

With Tim Tebow rumors swirling everywhere before the game, Sanchez finished 14 of 31 for 230 yards with the touchdown and two interceptions.

“Minus those tips, and his numbers look a lot better,” Ryan said of Sanchez. “I thought he played better than the numbers indicated.”

Foster led the way for the Texans with 152 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries.

Unsurprisingly, Ryan wasn’t buying into the benefits of hanging tough with a team like the Texans.

“It’s a win business, so absolutely not,” Ryan said.

The Jets will try to climb back to .500 next week when they welcome the Indianapolis Colts to northern New Jersey.

NOTES: Cornerback Antonio Cromartie lined up for a snap at wide receiver, and almost caught a deep pass from Sanchez in the second quarter…Center Nick Mangold left the game with an ankle injury in the third quarter, but returned to the lineup in the fourth…DT Kendrick Ellis left the game in the third with a knee injury and was replaced by Damon Harrison…Cumberland’s touchdown was the first of his career…Tim Tebow carried the ball five times for 19 yards and threw one incomplete pass…The Jets have now returned kickoffs for touchdowns in 11 consecutive seasons, an NFL record.


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