That’s the sound you probably heard at roughly four in the afternoon this past Sunday. A collective sigh from an entire fan base echoed through the metropolitan area, a sound that signified a wide open race for the AFC East title. The New York Jets defeated the New England Patriots by a score of 16-9 and in doing so, put themselves on the NFL map.
After not allowing an offensive touchdown in week one, week two provided evidence that Gang Green’s defense in 2009 is one the NFL’s elites. Rex Ryan’s boys produced a rerun of sorts—again, no offensive touchdowns—while backing up their trash talking. Remember, when Rex Ryan first got hired, he made comments about “not kissing Bill Belicheck’s rings.” Then Kris Jenkins declared that week two was the Jets super bowl. Follow that up with Kerry Rhodes boldly stating that the Jets defense wouldn’t be as forgiving as the Bills were a week prior and would hit quarterback Tom Brady more than six times.
Check. Check. Check.
For the first time since the beginning of the decade, the Jets beat their rival at home. And while this was only week two, it certainly has elevated the confidence and moral of a once silent locker room a mere year ago. Through two games, the whole team looks loose, they look like they are having fun and, most importantly, they’re winning.
The defense wasn’t the only bright spot. The offense, stagnant in the first half, came to life in a matter of three plays to start the second half. A short pass to Jerricho Cotchery, a missed tackle, and a Mark Sanchez-to-Dustin Keller hook up from 9 yards out proved the difference. The offense moved the ball well enough in the second half, picking up two Jay Feely field goals to finish off the scoring. Sanchez looked like a veteran in the second half, helping the Jets stay undefeated—and atop the division—early in the NFL season.
There might have been yapping months, weeks and days prior to the game from the Jets side. Finally, Gang Green sent a message loud and clear, this time on the field: this is a new Jets team ready to legitimately challenge for the division.
by Jim Hildebrand