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Santonio Holmes rewarding Woody Johnson and Rex Ryan for taking chance on troubled wide receiver

BY Kristie Ackert


Monday, November 22nd 2010, 4:00 AM


Santonio Holmes celebrates his seven-catch, 126-yard, two-touchdown performance on Sunday. Take our PollWinning ugly


What will Santonio Holmes do for his next act? The Jets wide receiver, who caught the winning touchdown in overtime last week in Cleveland and set up the winner the week before in Detroit, did it yet again Sunday. Holmes caught a six-yard TD pass with 10 seconds left to give the Jets a 30-27 win over the Texans at the Meadowlands.

"It's just playing football," Holmes said of his late-game heroics. "It's just pitching and catching a little bit, having a little fun."

In his fifth year in the league, Holmes is already well established as a prime-time player. He caught a 6-yard touchdown with 35 seconds to go to win Super Bowl XLIII for the Steelers. The past three weeks, he has reminded Jets fans why the team took a chance on the player who has had substance-abuse problems. After coming over in a trade from Pittsburgh, he was suspended for the first four games this year for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.

In Detroit, it was Holmes' 52-yard reception in overtime that set up the winning field goal. Last week in Cleveland, he grabbed a 37-yard touchdown pass in overtime to win it.

That type of clutch mentality is ultimately why the Jets made the call to get Holmes in April, despite his off-the-field baggage, which included an arrest for possession of marijuana in 2008 while with the Steelers.

But Rex Ryan loved that Holmes was a big-play player, and that he asked for the ball with the game on the line.

"I think Woody Johnson and Rex Ryan made a great call by giving me a phone call on April 11 at about 9 p.m.," Holmes said. "I think that was the best decision that was made for myself and this team. They brought me here for one reason and that is to help this team win ballgames, bring leadership, bring character and fight to win till the end of the game."

Holmes - along with Braylon Edwards - gives the Jets a big-play threat they have not had for a long time. Sunday, he caught seven passes for 126 yards and two touchdowns.

As Mark Sanchez marched the Jets to the comeback Sunday, he connected with LaDainian Tomlinson for the first two plays and with Edwards for 42 yards. The QB was not surprised when he looked up on the last play and saw Holmes coolly streaking for the back of the left side of the end zone.

"The last drive we're going down, no timeouts left, less than a minute left and he says, 'All right, let's get it.' That's it," Sanchez said. "You might think he's asleep on the sidelines, he's that focused. He's dialed in.

"He's a gamer, obviously."

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Damien Woody injures knee, will have MRI Monday; miscommunication to blame on Shonn Greene fumble


Larmyk Balancia is tackled after running onto the field at Sunday's Jets game. He's charged with trespassing, improper behavior and violating a local statute on fan conduct

Damien Woody was excited about the Jets' last-second heroics, but he was not jumping up and down on the sidelines. The right tackle suffered an injury to his right MCL late in the first quarter Sunday.

He said he will be examined further on Monday.

"I am pretty sore right now," Woody said. "Somebody fell on the side of my knee, don't know exactly who it was, but I am gonna get treatment and see where it's at."

With less than two minutes to play in the first quarter, the 12-year veteran was blocking Texans defensive end Mario Williams when Mark Anderson came around at Sanchez. Anderson fell backward and on to the side of Woody's leg.

After an initial examination in the locker room - he did not have an MRI or X-rays - Woody returned to the sideline without his helmet or shoulder pads.

"I was trying to be smart, it just wouldn't loosen up," said Woody, who rode the stationary bike on the sidelines during the second quarter. "I'll talk to the doctor again. Once I talk to the doctor again, see where I am, we'll get full details. Have to see where we are at."

GREENE MISTAKEShonn Greene said it was miscommunication with quarterback Mark Sanchez that caused his costly fourth-quarter fumble Sunday. The second-year running back said he did not hear Sanchez changing the play from a toss to a handoff on second-and-5 from the Texans' 41-yard line.

"I didn't get the call so, it was kind of an off play. I am running something different. Mark is running something kind of different, so when I went to get the ball, it wasn't a clean ball exchange," Greene said. "By that time guys had got into the backfield and got to me and I was trying to break a tackle and I should've went down and it came out."

On the next play, Houston quarterback Matt Schaub hit Joel Dreessen on a 43-yard touchdown to cut the Jets' 13-point lead to 23-17.

Greene did not get in the game again.

He was also benched in the season opener after he fumbled twice. Greene had three fumbles, all lost, as a rookie last season.

MAKING PROGRESSWide receiver Jerricho Cotchery, who missed Sunday's game with a groin injury, doesn't know if he will be ready for Thursday night's game against the Bengals.

"I am progressing a little bit every day," said Cotchery, who has 29 catches for 315 yards and two touchdowns this season. "I don't know yet, it's too early to say if I can go Thursday, but I am making progress."

Cotchery said he has been running at full speed. The next test for him will be to try and make the sharp cuts he needs to shake off defenders.

"I haven't done any cuts yet," Cotchery said. "I have to do that (before playing)."

He said being a spectator Sunday was more than enough.

"It was hard just watching and knowing I couldn't help," Cotchery said. "I hope I don't have to do that again."

BUSTEDLarmyk Balancia, 25, of West Harrison, N.Y., was arrested Sunday after he ran onto the field during the third quarter. Balancia was charged with one count of trespassing, one count of improper behavior and one count of violating a local statute on fan conduct.

As Mark Sanchez settled his offense for a third-and-6 play with 4:56 to go in the third, Balancia bolted onto the field from the end zone the Jets were driving toward. He was tackled by police and security near the other 10-yard line.

He was taken to the Bergen County Jail. Balancia has a Dec. 8 date with an East Rutherford Court judge.

REPREIVENick Folk, the Jets' fickle-footed place kicker, atoned for his sins against the Cleveland Browns last week with three field goals, missing only a long shot from 53 yards, which landed short.

"Even (the 53-yard attempt) felt fine," said Folk, who practiced in the New Meadowlands Stadium earlier in the week to reacclimate himself after two weeks on the road. "I'll take short. I turned my foot over to get more distance into it afterward."

His makes were from 37, 33 and 30 yards.


STAT OF THE DAY ... 4In the Jets' last four victories, they have squeaked out the games by an average of four points.

UNSUNG HEROLaDainian Tomlinson caught seven passes for 71 yards yesterday and ran for 36 yards on 12 carries. His two receptions on the final drive set up the dramatic comeback. He also surpassed Edgerrin James for sixth on the NFL's list for all-time rushing attempts. He now has 3,034.

MIAThe Jets defense. It was porous in the fourth quarter, giving up 91 yards and blowing a 16-point lead. The 43-yard touchdown pass to Joel Dreessen illustrated the problem, showing complete confusion in the zone defense.

NEXT GAMESave some room Thanksgiving night for the popcorn as the Bengals and their big-mouthed wide receivers, Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco, come to the Meadowlands. The Bengals may be 2-8, but they'll be talking trash against Darrelle Revis.

When: Thursday, 8:20 p.m., Ch. 9, NFL Network

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Late-game heroics of Mark Sanchez and Santonio Holmes will make Jets battle-tested in playoffs

The faithless had departed the New Meadowlands Stadium when Mark Sanchez, aka "The Comeback Kid," found Braylon Edwards streaking down the sidelines and hit him on a 42-yard pass play with 16 seconds to play.

A few seconds later, Santonio Holmes was running in and out of the end zone with another last-second, game-winning TD, this one beating the Texans, 30-27, Sunday.

Say whatever you want about the Jets, but they are not for the faint of heart.

"Me, personally, I had the lap band surgery, so I feel better about it," Rex Ryan joked about the effects of his team's penchant for these late-game victories on his physical well-being.

To recount: The Jets have won two overtime games on the road and Sanchez has now engineered two fourth-quarter comebacks in the last five games. The Jets are 8-2 as they prepare for a Thanksgiving night game against woeful Cincinnati at home, then head to Foxborough for the main event, a first-place showdown with the hated Patriots.

And whether you think they are lucky or not, just barely beating teams they should crush, one thing is for sure - the Jets are battle-tested.

And they can continue to live on the edge, as long as they have a quarterback with a flair for the dramatic and a complement of explosive weapons in LaDainian Tomlinson, Edwards and Holmes - big-time playmakers who don't shrink in a crucial situation.

They've now done it three weeks in a row and four of the last five games, and no matter what situation they find themselves in the playoffs, nothing will seem unfamiliar or too daunting.

Sanchez showed up at the postgame press conference in a green T-shirt emblazoned with "The 383rd Infantry Regiment" across the front - an homage to his grandfather George's World War II unit that served in the Pacific Rim.

"I think he was watching," Sanchez said. "I think he gave us that extra boost."

It sounds as plausible as any other explanation for why the Jets and Sanchez seem to have a penchant for fourth-quarter comebacks and overtime victories.

Here is what the rest of the NFL needs to know about Gang Green: Until the clock says 0:00, the Jets aren't out of it.

"I really can't explain it," guard Brandon Moore said of the Jets surviving late scares. "But I'd rather be a closer than a front-runner any day."

Sure, this could come back to bite them in the playoffs, but Ryan and his team are making no apologies for anything other than forcing their fans to suffer needless anxiety late in games.

"If I have to apologize for it every week, I will all the way to the Super Bowl," Ryan said.

While the Jets haven't mastered the art of putting away an opponent, Sanchez has clearly embraced his role as the comeback maestro. He functions better in crisis. The Jets might want to start him in the 2-minute offense from the opening snap.

Ryan has witnessed Sanchez blossom into the Jets' version of Mariano Rivera - a fearless closer who doesn't blink with the game on the line. Fifty-five seconds, no timeouts left to go 72 yards for the game-winning TD? No problem.

"This is a different guy," Ryan said. "He grew so much in the offseason. His teammates know that he's the first guy in and the last guy to leave. He prepares like a pro. Now he's reaping the benefits."

Sanchez, who had his second 300-yard passing game Sunday, said that preparation helps him stay focused when the game is on the line. He goes through a mental checklist of plays and players and where he's going to go with the ball.

Holmes, who had 12 receptions for 126 yards and two touchdowns, said he approached offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer when he returned to the team from his four-game suspension five weeks ago and suggested that the first-team offense go against the first-team defense in practice in third-down situations and the 2-minute drill. During that time he and Sanchez have developed something.

"I put myself in these in these situations on the sidelines before every last drive we've taken," Holmes said. "I'm thinking what can I do to make a play for this team. The fire in my eyes and the fire in Mark's eyes, it kind of meets."

Sparks fly. Opponents fall.

"We were struggling over the fourth quarter. But things happen for a reason," Holmes said. "That's why we keep playing until the clock strikes zero

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D'Alessandro: Jets have cast of characters, but Mark Sanchez is running this show

Some said he played his signature game a week ago in Cleveland, where Mark Sanchez dealt with pain and some shaky protection yet still found a way to steal one in overtime on the road for the second straight week.

We had no problem nodding our assent, because the Jets’ quarterback showed the kind of growth and determination and leadership you like to see from him, especially if this season is going to turn out the way they tell us it should.

But as you plot his career arc, you must admit that Sanchez is doing the kind of stuff that nobody had a right to expect — notably, stringing together

back-to-back Houdini routines — and if our eyes aren’t deceiving us, it’s not much of a stretch to assert that Sanchez defines this Jets team right now.

Not only its extraordinary potential and its noblest aspirations, but the quirky and entertaining alter ego that is both gritty and glamorous, sturdy and spectacular.

It’s all there now, all in one 24-year-old kid with 25 career starts.

When this all started, this team was supposed to be about having the league’s best defense, an offense spearheaded by one of the great tailbacks in history, or the flamboyant personality of a head coach governing a bunch of guys who were as loose as a banana republic in turmoil.

But now it’s really about Sanchez, who can throw the game away in one moment — as he did with an interception that helped Houston take a four-point lead in the fourth quarter, emptying out a quarter of the stands in the process — and then take his team 72 yards in 45 seconds to steal a 30-27 verdict before what was left of 78,843 teeth-gnashers.

Only the (ultimately) great ones do this, you think.

And as hard as it may be to live with their growing pains early on, you know back-to-back signature games represent something worth celebrating.

Or put it another way: To illustrate how far he’s come, his coach said Sanchez couldn’t have done this a year ago — end of discussion.

“There’s no way, he’s a different guy,” Rex Ryan said. “He’s got that experience, 25 games, as an NFL starter. He grew so much in the offseason. I always mention it — he’s the first guy in, and last to leave. And he does it every single day. He’s prepares like a pro. Now he’s reaping the benefits.”

As do the rest of us.

That is, if we aren’t already in the parking lot, where a substantial portion of the patrons were located in the final minute as Sanchez was chewing up those 72 yards in those 45 seconds.

Somebody asked him what he was thinking before he walked onto the field for those last five plays, and Sanchez replied, “All the things I think about in those times — kind of singing to myself, just thinking, trying to get my mind off everything, relax, know the situation, and that’s it.”

As everyone knows, he’s a playbook geek. This is his way of imparting how he already is prepared for every conceivable situation, so there’s no sense in worrying about it.

The other stuff is purely rote: “Just the situation,” he said. “Do we have timeouts, do we not have timeouts? What’s our line if we need a field goal? Do we need a touchdown? What two plays are we going to call first? What are we like? What personnel do we have in? Who’s hurt, who’s healthy? Little things.”

Santonio Holmes, who had his best game in green, put it this way: “You heard him talk about film study — that’s all he talks about,” he said. “It shows that he wants to be a leader. He practices to be perfect.”

In that final drive, which culminated in a 6-yard scoring pass to Holmes with 10 seconds on the clock, Sanchez was perfect.

His growth has been a joy to behold. His greatest development has obviously been between his ears, but he now makes more plays with his feet with every passing week. Obviously, his next step will be improved accuracy. For all the big plays he made Sunday, he was only 22-for-38, and he overthrew some guys who were open.

But that stuff is easy to live with. Especially at the final gun, when you look up at the scoreboard.

“We knew when we drafted him he was the right guy,” Ryan said, “and he’s gonna be the right guy for the next 10 years here.”

Gritty or glamorous, sturdy or spectacular, it doesn’t matter.

Sanchez is all of those things.

He defines this team now.

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Jets replay: Santonio Holmes player of the game

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Record

Player of the game

Santonio Holmes again keyed a Jets’ come-from-behind victory. Holmes’ 6-yard scoring reception from Mark Sanchez with 10 seconds left gave the Jets a 30-27 win over Houston, one week after his 37-yard catch-and-run with 16 seconds to go in overtime lifted the Jets to a 26-20 victory at Cleveland. Holmes finished with seven receptions for 126 yards and two touchdowns.

Turning point

Although the Jets’ ‘D’ blew a 16-point fourth-quarter lead, they did keep the Texans out of the end zone after Kevin Bentley’s 18-yard interception return put the ball at the Jets’ 10. Three runs by Arian Foster gained only six yards, forcing the Texans to settle for a 22-yard FG and a four-point lead. That wasn’t big enough.

Costly mistakes

Shonn Greene’s lost fumble at the Jets’ 43 jump-started the Texans’ comeback. ... Houston WR Kevin Walter dropped a deep pass from Matt Schaub, denying Houston at least a 40-yard gain in the second quarter. Walter had beaten CB Darrelle Revis by two steps. ... Foster lost a fumble late in the third quarter. Mike DeVito stripped the ball and Jim Leonhard recovered it, setting up a 30-yard Nick Folk field goal that gave the Jets a 23-7 lead nine seconds into the fourth quarter.

Coaching decisions

Houston coach Gary Kubiak chose not to call a passing play facing third-and-goal at the 6 with 1:44 left and the Texans leading the Jets by one. He played it safe with a running play, which set up Houston for a chip-shot field goal and a four-point lead. Ordinarily, that is the right call. But perhaps Kubiak should’ve thought about how terrible his bottom-ranked pass defense is. ... Jets coach Rex Ryan challenged whether Foster broke the plane on his 1-yard scoring run, but lost. It turned out the Jets didn’t need the extra timeout, anyway.


The Jets designated Sunday as Military Appreciation Day, and Sanchez wore a T-shirt that read "383rd Infantry Regiment WWII" to the postgame news conference. He said it was to honor his late grandfather, George, who served in the Pacific Theater. ... Ryan was caught laughing on camera after security finally collared a fan who ran at least 60 yards on the field before tripping and falling at the 8-yard line. ... Third-year LB-DE Vernon Gholston narrowly missed his first pro sack, as Schaub was able to throw the ball as Gholston was bringing him down.

Looking ahead

The Jets (8-2) will host Cincinnati (2-8) on Thanksgiving night at 8:20 p.m. in the second of two home games in a five-day span. The Bengals blew a 28-7 first-half lead in a 49-31 loss to Buffalo on Sunday. The Jets beat the Bengals twice last season.

— J.P. Pelzman

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Stapleton: Santonio Holmes is picture perfect for Jets


Santonio Holmes and Mark Sanchez celebrate as time winds down on the Jets’ latest comeback win, 30-27 over Houston.

EAST RUTHERFORD – Santonio Holmes sat alone in silence at his locker three weeks ago, lost in the devastation of lost opportunity against Green Bay.

He allowed himself to get lost in the moment again in Sunday’s 30-27 victory over Houston, only this time an entire franchise basked in the glory of his heroics.

Mark Sanchez put the football where only Holmes could catch it and he did, bringing in the decisive touchdown reception from 6 yards out with 10 seconds remaining, rescuing the Jets from an embarrassing meltdown.

The fans roared. His teammates rejoiced.

That’s when Holmes froze in front of a television camera in the far left corner of the end zone, clearly embracing the thrill of everything that came with what he had just done.

"For me to be running so clean to the back of the end zone, to get my feet down in the back of the end zone, I definitely had to stop and take a mental picture of it, that it just happened again," Holmes said. "This is something that’s happened to me before. This is something that I put myself in these situations mentally, sitting on the sideline before every last drive that we’ve taken. I’m always the one sitting on the sideline by myself just thinking, ‘OK, what can I do to make a play for this team?’ "

It’s impossible to imagine Holmes doing more than what he has done already.

The way things are going for him and the Jets, even the impossible seems within reach. Holmes has played six games for Gang Green, and in their last four wins he is responsible for making the play that decided each one of them.

He drew the pass-interference penalty on that fourth-and-six in Denver, the one that led to LaDainian Tomlinson’s game-winning touchdown. His 52-yard catch in Detroit set up Nick Folk’s triumphant field goal in overtime.

After stunning the Browns with his overtime touchdown catch last week, Holmes finished off the first miracle at New Meadowlands Stadium by delivering yet again.

The Jets somehow went 72 yards in 45 seconds, with Holmes’ second score of the game sending what had been an exasperated crowd of 78,843 home happy.

"Right before the game, I told him, ‘Tone, as you go, this team goes,’ " fullback Tony Richardson said of Holmes, who finished with seven catches for 126 yards and two touchdowns. "Seems like when he catches the ball and gets going we rally off of that."

Holmes is doing things the Jets have not seen at wide receiver since Santana Moss, and that was six years ago. The acquisition of Holmes from Pittsburgh for a fifth-round pick looks like a stroke of genius today, but Super Bowl MVPs are not traded in the prime of their career without some baggage.

Fortunately for the Jets, for now Holmes has left his in the Steel City, answering any questions his new teammates – or anyone else -- had when he arrived.

"When I heard about [the trade], my first thought was, ‘Why would the Pittsburgh Steelers let him go?’ " cornerback Darrelle Revis said. "Rex [Ryan] does a great job of bringing the right guys in here, guys who can come here and help us win games. I knew we would deal with [whether Holmes’ previous off-the-field issues would cause distraction] once he got here; he’s been a great teammate with us."

The past would stay in the past if Holmes – or any player, for that matter – never gave his teammates reason to wonder about his dedication to their goal of winning the Super Bowl.

To this point of what has been a wild 8-2 season, to a man, the Jets insist Holmes hasn’t.

And only a fool would question the impact he has had between the lines.

Asked where the Jets would be without Holmes, Ryan quipped: "I don’t even want to think about it."

That’s because the Jets probably lose to Denver without him, maybe Detroit, Cleveland and almost assuredly Houston, too.

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Composed Sanchez shows he’s 'right guy' for Jets

There’s a difference between being mentally tough and playing mentally sound. Just ask the Jets, who teetered between both during yesterday’s thrilling victory over the Texans at New Meadowlands Stadium.

One of these days they might be the dominant team coach Rex Ryan envisions, the kind of team that will play nearly flawless football for four quarters and overpower an opponent on both sides of the ball.

But right now they’re more inconsistent than dominant, stealing victory from defeat thanks to being mentally tough after not playing mentally sound.

There was no better example of that yesterday than Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, who is beginning to look like the second coming of John Elway.

After an interception helped his team turn a 23-7 lead into a 27-23 deficit, all that will be remembered is his brilliance during a game-winning drive that pulled out a dramatic 30-27 triumph.

“We knew when we drafted him that we drafted the right guy,” Ryan said after Sanchez took his team 72 yards in 45 seconds for a game-winning touchdown. “He’s going to be the right guy for the next 10 years here.”

Trailing 27-23 with only 55 seconds remaining, Sanchez connected on all four of his passes (not counting a spike), including a 42-yard sideline bomb to Braylon Edwards and the game-winning 6-yard touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes.

Following a pair of overtime wins against the Lions and Browns and a late-game victory at Denver, the Jets have lived on a knife’s edge of late but won’t apologize for their 8-2 record.

“That’s the kind of effort, determination, resiliency, whatever you want to call it — that’s the kind of guys we have,” said Sanchez, who passed for 315 yards and three touchdowns.

There was plenty not to like about how the Jets nearly blew the game. A Shonn Greene fumble led to a quick Houston touchdown, and the Jets continued their mental meltdown with dumb penalties, blown coverages, missed tackles and leaky pass protection.

Their heralded defense surrendered 20 points in the fourth quarter as the Texans claimed a 27-23 lead on a field goal with 55 seconds to go.

Then Sanchez showed his mental toughness. Faced with a desperate situation, he dumped two short passes to LaDainian Tomlinson before finding Edwards running along the sideline. Sanchez threaded the ball between two closing defenders, giving the Jets a first down at the Houston 6. On the next play, his touchdown pass to Holmes came on a perfect floater into the corner of the end zone.

Sanchez is good about passing credit around to his teammates and coaching staff. But he also said he drew inspiration from a speech by UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar of Toms River, N.J., who addressed the Jets at their team hotel Saturday night.

“The guy is barely taller than this podium, and this guy beat BJ Penn in a UFC Championship bout,” Sanchez said, adding, “He talked about never giving up, being counted out, playing until the end; fighting and believing in yourself and your team and the people around you. Those were the only ones telling him he could win the fight. Everyone else was counting him out. I think there’s a lot of people who counted us out tonight and last week and the week before that. We just look at each other, look at the guys that wear the Jets decals and we know we have a chance until the thing is over.”

Edgar was among those in the stadium who watched Sanchez put those words into action. “I wanted to inspire them and motivate them as much as I could,” Edgar said.

The Jets’ mental toughness will be needed as they have just three days to prepare for their Thanksgiving night game against the Bengals. Being mentally sound is still a work in progress

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Jets' Greene taken off hook

It wasn't lost on Shonn Greene just how close the Jets came to blowing an easy victory yesterday.

And it shouldn't have been.

The second-year running back played a major role in the Jets' fourth-quarter collapse that preceded the thrilling 30-27 victory over the Texans.

The Jets were leading 23-10 with 9:23 to play when Greene (15 rushes, 42 yards) fumbled on the Texans' 48-yard line. Kevin Bentley recovered for Houston, and Matt Schaub threw a 43-yard touchdown pass on the next play that quieted the 78,843 fans at New Meadowlands Stadium.

The Texans, who trailed 23-7 early in the fourth quarter, took a 24-23 lead when Arian Foster scored from a yard out on their next possession.

Greene said the fumble resulted from poor communication with quarterback Mark Sanchez.

"It was supposed to be a toss and he changed it to a zone play, a handoff," Greene said. "He killed it and I didn't know, so that's on me. When I saw that, I went to get the ball and it wasn't a clean exchange. By that time, [defenders] had got in the backfield and kind of got to me, and I was trying to break a tackle [when] I should've went down, and the ball came out."

The Texans (4-6) capitalized on the miscue and almost made the Jets (8-2) pay with what would have been another ugly loss at home. Gang Green's two defeats -- a mistake-filled, 10-9 loss to the Ravens to open the season and an embarrassing 9-0 blanking by the Packers -- were both at the new stadium. But Sanchez and Santonio Holmes bailed out Greene.

"I'm still kind of upset with myself," Greene said. "I'm happy we won, but we've got to fix some things."

They can start with the running game. The Jets yesterday ran for a season-low 103 yards, well below their season average of 145.9. Without the ground-and-pound attack to kill the clock, the Jets are susceptible to blowing leads.

LaDainian Tomlinson has come back to earth recently, and Greene hasn't been as explosive as he was last year. This season, he has 505 yards on 122 carries with one touchdown and three fumbles.

Greene has said sharing carries makes it tough for him to find his rhythm, and admitted his struggles affect his confidence.

"It does when it first happens,'' Greene said. "But at some point you have to forget about it and move on."

Tomlinson (12 carries for 36 yards, seven catches for 71 yards) said some players benefit from sharing carries early in their careers and others don't.

"My rookie year, I didn't play third downs, so I had a chance to learn," Tomlinson said. "Some guys have to come in right away and carry the load, and that's tough also. It depends on the guy."

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Jets win on TD with 10 seconds left

The Jets are like cockroaches. You can’t kill them.

How else do you explain what’s going on with this team right now?

How else do you explain the Jets becoming the first team in NFL history to win back-to-back overtime games on the road the last two weeks and then doing what they did yesterday — stealing a 30-27 victory from the clutches of defeat against the Texans at the Meadowlands?

How else do you explain allowing a 23-7 fourth-quarter lead to melt into a 27-23 deficit and still winning the game?

How else do you explain the Jets, trailing 27-23, starting a drive from their own 28-yard line with 49 seconds remaining and with no timeouts, needing a touchdown to win ... and doing it?

When Mark Sanchez and the Jets’ offense took over the ball for that final drive, needing 72 yards to win the game, who truly thought the Jets were going to win the game?

“I was thinking that we’ve done it over and over this year so I was like, ‘All right, let’s see how we get out of this this time,’ “ safety Jim Leonhard said.

“Obviously, we had our doubts,” tackle Wayne Hunter said. “But the way we’ve been playing these last three games anything can happen with us.”

Well, anything is exactly what happened.

Sanchez, channeling his inner Elway and Montana on that desperate winning drive, completed four passes for those 72 yards, the last six coming on a perfectly-spun pass to Santonio Holmes, who was running a fade pattern into the left corner of the end zone, with 10 seconds remaining in the game.

It was the third consecutive week Holmes made the decisive game-winning play. Last week in Cleveland, he scored the game-winning TD on an electric catch-and-run in overtime. The week before in Detroit, it was his long catch-and-run that put the Jets in winning field-goal range in overtime.

“Santonio’s been the home run hitter we thought he was going to be,” linebacker Calvin Pace said.

“The guy is a gamer,” said Sanchez, who earlier connected with Holmes on a 41-yard TD for a 20-7 lead. “The last drive, we’re down, no timeouts left, less than a minute and he says, ‘All right, let’s get it.’ That’s it. That’s all he says.”

One play before the game-winner, Sanchez connected with Braylon Edwards on a 42-yard strike down the right sideline to give the Jets a first-and-goal from the 6 with 16 seconds remaining.

It all left everyone inside both the Jets and Texans locker rooms shaking their heads — albeit with wildly differing emotions.

“Can you explain it? Because I can’t explain it,” Jets veteran right tackle Damien Woody said. “I’ve never seen anything like this in one season. It seems like it’s just one of those seasons, man.”

It’s certainly one of those seasons for the 5-6 Texans, losers of their last four games, including last week on a fluke Hail Mary tipped pass on the final play of the game.

Texans players were bewildered and distraught in the visitors’ locker room.

“This is ridiculous,” Houston safety Bernard Pollard said. “We should not be leaving this place with a loss. All we had to do was play perfect for 49 seconds. How in God’s name can we not get that done?”

Texans receiver Andre Johnson said, “Words can’t describe this. I really don’t know what to say.”

Here’s what the Jets, who are now 8-2 and tied for the best record in the NFL and with the Patriots for first place in the AFC East, will not say: “We’re sorry.”

There were no apologies from the Jets despite blowing the 23-7 fourth-quarter lead thanks to a Shonn Greene fumble and an inexplicable sloppy defense that allowed 20 points in the final 12:21.

“We keep finding ways to win, and that’s what championship teams do,” coach Rex Ryan said. “If I have to apologize for every week I will — all the way to the Super Bowl.”

Woody was asked if the team felt “charmed” or “blessed.” He politely stopped the questioner and said, “Go ahead and say it: ‘Lucky.’ Hey, if we’re going to keep lucking our way into wins I’ll keep taking it. Good teams find ways to win and bad teams find ways to lose. I’ve been on the other side of that. This year, we’re catching all the breaks.”

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Big-play Santonio proving to be worth risk for Jets

The Jets took a calculated risk when they traded for Santonio Holmes in April. He’d had problems with the law, was going to be suspended for a quarter of the 2010 season and was known as a talented underachiever.

The risk is paying off big time. Holmes could be the MVP of the Jets (8-2) after yesterday’s game-winning catch — his second in two weeks — saved the team from a potentially humiliating collapse in front of 78,843 fans at New Meadowlands Stadium.

“When you know one play can make a difference, you never shy away from those moments,” Holmes said following the Jets’ 30-27 victory over the Houston Texans (4-6).

Holmes hauled in a 6-yard toss from Mark Sanchez in the back left corner of the end zone with six seconds left in the game — tapping his toes just barely inside the field of play — to thwart the Texans’ comeback and turn a potentially devastating defeat into a thrilling triumph. Holmes finished with seven catches for 126 yards and two touchdowns.

“When we made the call, I kind of licked my lips,” Holmes said. “I knew the defender would try to strike and hit my hands down, but I just made it so he wouldn’t see my hands come up at the last [second].”

Holmes, who was suspended the first four games of the season for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy, scored the game-winner in overtime to beat the Browns last week in Cleveland. A week earlier, his 52-yard catch-and-run in overtime set up the winning field goal against the Lions.

“I’m not surprised,” LaDainian Tomlinson said. “Certain players have that kind of mystique. Something about them that they make plays when it’s really time to make plays. He just has that knack.”

Holmes’ penchant for the big play is what prompted the Jets to acquire him from the Steelers. He was the MVP of Super Bowl XLIII, when he made a spectacular touchdown catch late in the game to put the Steelers ahead.

“He finds a way to get open,” Sanchez said. “He runs his routes really well and he’s always positive.”

He is fast becoming Sanchez’s favorite target among a group of receivers that includes weapons such as Braylon Edwards and Dustin Keller. In six games, he has 27 receptions for 447 yards and three touchdowns.

“They’ve got a great me-to-you factor,” center Nick Mangold said. “You see that with quarterbacks and wide receivers, almost like a sixth sense of what’s going on. I think it’s a tribute to the work they put in in the offseason — [Holmes] getting with Mark and Mark seeking [Holmes] out, and getting him ready to go. It was tough without him the first four games but things have grown pretty well.”

Holmes’ first touchdown came in the third quarter on a short route that he turned into a 41-yarder by running away from the Texans defense.

“I don’t like playing Santonio Holmes,” Texans defensive end Antonio Smith said.

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Jets defense missing 'kill mentality'


The Meadowlands crowd was in a state of utter bedlam as the Jets completed their 30-27 comeback victory over the stunned Texans.

Afterward, half of the Jets’ locker room was euphoric. The other half quietly dressed with conflicting emotions.

The offense won the game. The defense did almost everything it could to give the game away.

As he dressed quietly by himself, linebacker Calvin Pace’s lips were nearly quivering as he talked about the defense allowing 20 unanswered fourth-quarter points to the Texans, who erased a 23-7 deficit and took a 27-23 lead.

There are some things I want to say, but it’s not right to say,” Pace said cryptically. “We just don’t have to make it that hard. We don’t need something like this to come back and bite us in our [butt]. You never know. Next time we might not be as fortunate to pull it out.”

Indeed, the Jets’ defense, which was a force last season, has not been the same this year. A week ago, it allowed the Browns and their rookie quarterback, Colt McCoy, to drive down the field, tie the game and send it into overtime.

“I don’t get it, man,” Pace said. “We’ve got guys [on the Texans] running free. It doesn’t have to be this hard. We’re missing that kill mentality. Great teams stomp a team out and leave no doubt.

“To me it doesn’t feel good. We’re better than that and we should be doing better than that. We need to have that come-to-Jesus moment and need to say this is not good enough.”

As Rex Ryan stood at the podium to begin his postgame press conference, a fan from outside the glassed-in interview room yelled, “Where’s the defense?”

Ryan, trying to make light of it, said, “It wasn’t very good, but it was good enough.”

Make no mistake, though, Ryan is ticked off at his defense, talking about his team’s “issues finishing games.”

“I’m concerned about how we’re playing mentally,” Ryan said. “This is the time [of year] where you tighten things up in that fourth quarter. We have to look long and hard at it. We have to fix it and we have to fix it fast.”

The Jets inexplicably allowed backup tight end Joel Dreessen, who entered the game with 15 catches for 215 yards, to catch four passes for 106 yards, including a 43-yard touchdown on which no one covered him.

“We put ourselves in bad situations, and [the Texans] found them,” safety Jim Leonhard said. “It’s just not smart football. You get a big lead like that, you have to change a way you’re calling a game, change how aggressive you are calling it and we didn’t do that and it should have gotten us beat today.

“Our defense played bad enough for us to lose. We’re lucky we snuck out of here with a win again, but we have too much to correct to get too excited about this.”

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Thanks Wayne

The 98 reference is a good one...

Chrebet compares 2010 to 1998

Just got off the phone with former Jets’ great [and Garfield H.S. and Hofstra University alum] Wayne Chrebet, who was promoting the Proctor & Gamble ‘Take it to the House’ contest as well as the NFL’s Play 60 program, and he said he sees ‘a lot of similarities’ between the current 8-2 Jets and the 1998 Jets, who whe went 12-4 during the regular season and reached the AFC title game, where they lost to Denver.

‘I don’t remember us playing that many nail-biting games,’ said Chrebet, who is second in franchise history in career receptions [570] and third in TD catches [41]. ‘They’re finding different ways to win every week and they’re getting better and better, which is what we did in ‘98.’

He certainly is impressed by the team’s wide receiver corps.

‘They’ve got a lot of weapons,’ he said. ‘I talked to [wide receivers coach] Henry Ellard early in training camp and he was excited.’

Chrebet said the thing he remembered most about the 1998 team was that ‘we played together. We rooted for each other, the offense and the defense,’ and he sees the same camaraderie in this year’s squad.

Chrebet retired after the 2005 season because of the effects of numerous concussions. When asked how he is doing physically, he replied, ‘I have my struggles but I get by. ... I can’t complain. Everything’s good.’

He still owns horses and a sports bar, called Bar Social, located next to Shuart Stadium at Hofstra University. And he appreciates the fact that fans still wear his No. 80 Jets’ jersey.

‘It means a lot,’ he said. ‘It lets me know I did it the right way. I played the right way and I treated people the right way.’

As he spoke, Chrebet was on his way to an appearance in Northford, Conn. for a meet-and-greet with one of the semifinalists in the contest as well as to represent P&G as it makes a $10,000 donation to a local health & wellness organization in the Northford area in support of NFL PLAY 60, which encourages kids to be active for 60 minutes a day.

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Thanks Wayne

The 98 reference is a good one...

Chrebet compares 2010 to 1998

Just got off the phone with former Jets’ great [and Garfield H.S. and Hofstra University alum] Wayne Chrebet, who was promoting the Proctor & Gamble ‘Take it to the House’ contest as well as the NFL’s Play 60 program, and he said he sees ‘a lot of similarities’ between the current 8-2 Jets and the 1998 Jets, who whe went 12-4 during the regular season and reached the AFC title game, where they lost to Denver.

‘I don’t remember us playing that many nail-biting games,’ said Chrebet, who is second in franchise history in career receptions [570] and third in TD catches [41]. ‘They’re finding different ways to win every week and they’re getting better and better, which is what we did in ‘98.’

He certainly is impressed by the team’s wide receiver corps.

‘They’ve got a lot of weapons,’ he said. ‘I talked to [wide receivers coach] Henry Ellard early in training camp and he was excited.’

Chrebet said the thing he remembered most about the 1998 team was that ‘we played together. We rooted for each other, the offense and the defense,’ and he sees the same camaraderie in this year’s squad.

Chrebet retired after the 2005 season because of the effects of numerous concussions. When asked how he is doing physically, he replied, ‘I have my struggles but I get by. ... I can’t complain. Everything’s good.’

He still owns horses and a sports bar, called Bar Social, located next to Shuart Stadium at Hofstra University. And he appreciates the fact that fans still wear his No. 80 Jets’ jersey.

‘It means a lot,’ he said. ‘It lets me know I did it the right way. I played the right way and I treated people the right way.’

As he spoke, Chrebet was on his way to an appearance in Northford, Conn. for a meet-and-greet with one of the semifinalists in the contest as well as to represent P&G as it makes a $10,000 donation to a local health & wellness organization in the Northford area in support of NFL PLAY 60, which encourages kids to be active for 60 minutes a day.

I commented to a group of co-workers this morning, that not since Parcells was our coach have the Jets had the guts to not quit on games the way they have under Rex. Historically the SOJ threw in the towel more often than not when they were down by 10. Not these Jets... I'm loving this season...

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Politi's Supe-o-meter: Heart-stopping victories keeping Jets' Super Bowl dreams alive

Published: Monday, November 22, 2010, 12:00 PM

Steve Politi/Star-Ledger Columnist


The Jets are cruising thanks in part to the late-game heroics of wide receiver Santonio Holmes.

Look, we here at the Supe-O-Meter know what you’re thinking today. That the Jets, once again, got lucky. That if the Texans could play even a lick of pass defense, the Jets would have lost.

That, for the third straight week, the Jets had to steal a win from an inferior foe. We know you are saying all that. In fact, we encourage you to go ahead and keep talking. We can’t hear you.

La la la la la not listening la la la la la la!!

Seriously, what’s wrong with you people? Anyone who wants the Jets to simply dominate these teams also enjoys plain oatmeal for breakfast every day. Well, add some brown sugar and raisins, people. Order the French Toast and drown it in maple syrup once in a while. Live a little!

Turns out, the road to North Texas for our moment of shared football glory is not going to be a methodical march. (In fact, it hit a major speed bump Sunday night in Philadelphia. Maybe that’s what Eli stumbled over.) But as far as the Jets are concerned, it’s a Mardi Gras parade, filled with colorful floats and incredible costumes. And Santonio Holmes is King Bacchus.

Holmes represents the clutch, big-play threat at receiver that the Jets offense has always lacked. His over-the-shoulder catch with 10 seconds left turned a disaster -- how did the defense give up 14 fourth-quarter points? -- to another unlikely W.

"I want to apologize to all the Jets fans for affecting the heart a little bit," coach Rex Ryan said. "But we’ll take the win."

No apology necessary. A fan would be fortunate to get one thrilling finish like the Jets fans have had, maybe two. (And the Giants no doubt would love to have delivered one Sunday night.)

But three in a row? Unthinkable. Doubt it if you want. Our advice, however, is to just sit back and enjoy it, because if you can’t embrace what the Jets are doing, you have lost your football soul. (If you’re a Giants fan, your soul was fumbled away.)

The official reading on the Supe-O-Meter: San-(tonio)-tastic!

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What the Hell Is Going On Here..? Jets' Season Turning Into Something Special

It is hard to fathom what is happening with the New York Jets on a weekly basis the past month . A franchise that is notorious for losing football games in the most painful ways possible at the most painful times has entered a bizarro world during November. We saw hints of it with how they pulled out late victories over Miami, Minnesota, and Denver earlier in the year but these past three games have been something else.

If you haven’t noticed yet, the “same old Jets” culture is long dead. Rex Ryan buried it when he came to town with his brash confidence and unwavering belief this football team would be the best in the league. Mike Tannenbaum and Woody Johnson supported it by making the bold move to trade up for the right franchise quarterback and surround him with the weapons to let him flourish.

The most encouraging trait about this Jets team is their confidence that regardless of the situation, they are going to ultimately find a way to win. It isn’t a matter of “if” but a matter of “when” somebody is going to step up to boost the Jets to yet another victory.

PhotobucketIt is time to stop being surprised when Mark Sanchez throws for 300 yards and saves his two best throws for the final minute of a game. I wrote it two weeks ago and I will write it again, the Jets have their franchise quarterback, whatever the “it” factor is that makes certain quarterbacks winners in the NFL, Sanchez has “it”.

Sanchez has no shortage of options when he drops back to pass but Santonio Holmes has taken his game to another level over the past month. There isn’t a more clutch receiver in the NFL right now and his ability to run after the catch has added a dimension to the Jets offense which hasn’t existed in my lifetime.

It isn’t just Holmes though. It is the notoriously unreliable and inconsistent Braylon Edwards, becoming reliable and consistent. It is LaDainian Tomlinson always finding a way to have big reception after big reception in the Jets two minute drill. It is an offense as a whole that scores points in every single situation they need to so far this month.

The defense? That is a story for another day (or just later today) but similar to how the offense slumped last year before rediscovering their identity for a late season playoff push, the defense is capable of doing the same thing.

November 2010 isn’t a month Jets fans will forget anytime soon. When people talk about the Jets being “lucky” it is a weak attempt to hide their disgust that Sanchez is turning into a quarterback capable of keeping this team great for a long time and that Ryan can run his mouth, while his team backs it up.

I do know this, as we head into the final stretch of the regular season: the New York Jets are the number one show in town and en route to being the number one show in the NFL.

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Bengals come into Jets game with season collapsing


Associated Press

November 22, 2010

CINCINNATI -- Terrell Owens calls his team terrible. And nobody on the Cincinnati Bengals would disagree with the sentiment.

A classic collapse against Buffalo left the defending AFC North champions on the brink of a full-scale meltdown heading into the final six weeks of the season. The Bengals are 2-8 and suddenly in the hunt for the first overall pick in next year's draft.

They're playing so poorly that Owens wouldn't be surprised if their seven-game losing streak keeps on going.

"We may go 2-14 at the rate we're playing," Owens said. "We're not good, period."

Any thoughts of a late-season surge were dashed at Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday. The Bengals played their best half of the season on offense, surging ahead 31-14 at halftime. Then, they unraveled in every way, losing 49-31 to a team that had only one win coming in.

"Aw, it's tough," left tackle Andrew Whitworth said. "But it's been tough. This is just something I've never been through."

His franchise has been through it a lot. The Bengals clinched their 18th non-winning record in the last 20 years, one of the worst stretches of futility in league history. They've finished with four wins or fewer in eight of those seasons.

This one could easily fit into that bad billing. The Bengals have a grueling schedule left - the Jets are next up on Thanksgiving, followed by New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, San Diego and Baltimore. The defensive backfield was virtually wiped out by injuries during the loss to the Bills. It'll be a challenge to stay competitive.

"We've got to find a way," quarterback Carson Palmer said. "It's not going to be easy."

The attention will soon drift to next year, starting with the coach's future. Marvin Lewis is in the final year on his contract. Ownership offered an extension last season, while the Bengals were on their way to winning the division title. Lewis turned it down, preferring to wait and see what ownership did.

For years, Lewis has wanted a covered practice field - they had to practice at an indoor soccer facility to prepare for their playoff loss to the Jets last season - and some other changes. If he was hoping that another good season would strengthen his bargaining position, he's out of luck.

So, the coaching countdown begins with six games left.

Lewis' more immediate concern is trying to cobble together a defensive backfield that can keep the Bengals competitive. Safety Chris Crocker tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and is out for the season. Safety Roy Williams suffered a concussion. Cornerback Johnathan Joseph went out with an ankle injury in the first half.

By the end of the game, the Bengals were considering using receivers at cornerback in an emergency.

"I know at some point in the game they were talking about (Jordan) Shipley going in and playing corner, Quan (Cosby) maybe," Palmer said. "We got down to four guys."

The Jets (8-2) beat the Bengals twice last season - 37-0 at the Meadowlands to end the regular season, then 24-14 in the playoffs at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals don't have much time to mend their defense and get over the emotional meltdown.

"I hope we don't take the disappointment into the short week, into the game against the Jets," Owens said. "If not, they may put 49-plus on us. They have a great defense. Their offense is explosive. And if we come with the performance that we played with (against Buffalo), it's over. It's lights out.

"At this point, we're playing for pride. And we're going to see what everybody's made of, me included."

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Bengals put two on injured reserve

November 22, 2010

CINCINNATI -- The Bengals put safety Chris Crocker and defensive end Frostee Rucker on the injured reserve list Monday, two more setbacks to a depleted defense.

Cincinnati (2-8) plays the Jets (8-2) on Thanksgiving.

Crocker tore the anterior cruciate ligament during a 49-31 loss to Buffalo on Sunday. Rucker suffered a knee injury a week earlier and was inactive against the Bills.

The Bengals signed free agent cornerback Jonathan Wade, who played in eight games for Detroit this season. He was released on Nov. 10. They also put defensive end Antwan Odom on the roster again. Odom had a one-week roster exemption after serving a four-game suspension for violating the league’s ban on performance-enhancing drugs.

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Crusher love Jimmy

;>) I've been bumping this thread up all day with new stories as they're released because I figured we needed a diversion from the never-ending "The Pats are awesome because the lucky Jets suck because they haven't beaten anybody" crap that has been going on since what seems like the start of the internet

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