I wrote this article for Technorati. Click here to see the article there.
If the New York Jets win the AFC East Division Title this year, something they haven’t done since 2002, Week 9 of the NFL season will be the week they will look at as the week that everything changed. Week 9 will be the week the Jets transformed from a mediocre, loud-mouth team to a team that is once again a contender with a suffocating defense and hard-nosed running game.
Coming in to week 9, the Jets were coming off a bye week and they were set for a head-to-head match up against the division-leading Buffalo Bills, who just finished laying the wood on the Washington Redskins in a 24-0 blowout in Toronto.
The cards were stacked against the Jets. They were winless on the road, going against the leading rusher in the NFL, and still searching for a true identity.
So how did the Jets pull out a win?
1. The New York Jets rushing attack came to play.
Everyone following the Jets for the past three years has heard this term hundreds of times- GROUND AND POUND. To start the 2011 season, the Jets offense was all ground and no pound. Shonn Greene took over the role of feature back in what was supposed to be a seamless transition. Didn’t work out that way. Him and future Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson struggled mightily to move the rock. On the season, the Jets averaged 96.9 rushing yards per game. Coming into cold-weather Buffalo, an effective rushing game was a must. How did they respond? Collectively, the Jets rushed for 126 yards and the offensive line just blew back the D line of the Bills with ease. The offense of the Jets was balanced with a healthy mix of rushing and passing plays but when the Jets decided to run the ball, they did it effectively.
2. The New York Jets run defense stuffed Fred Jackson.
The Jets were giving up 123 rushing yards per game and the Bills were rushing for 135 yards per game coming into this matchup. It was no secret the Bills would give the ball to Fred Jackson. The onus was on the 25th ranked rushing defense in the league to disrupt the NFL‘s leading rusher. Led by underrated DT Sione Pouha, the Bills were held to only 96 total rushing yards. Fred Jackson responsible for only 82.
3. The New York Jets dominated the time of possession.
This third stat really ties into the first two. If you have an effective run game and your opponent does not, you will win the time of possession battle. The Jets held the ball for 7 minutes longer (an eternity in football) then they’ve been averaging. The Jets held on to the ball for 37:52 and the Bills only 22:08. That’s a 15+ min differential, or in football time- an entire quarter!
There were obviously other reasons than just the ones stated above that contributed to the Jets’ victory on Sunday, such as their incredible pass defense and solid special teams play, but the 3 listed above stand out because they are 3 areas in which the Jets have not performed well this season and 3 areas in which the Jets MUST continue to perform well in order to make a serious run at the Lombardi Trophy. This was the biggest game of the Jets season this year and they passed this test with flying colors but this victory has come and gone because there is a new biggest game of the season and it takes place this Sunday night against bitter rivals New England Patriots.