The Jets won their season opener over the Oakland Raiders, 19-14.
The opening drive went very smoothly for New York, but stalled due to penalties. Greg Salas couldn’t wrap his hands around a well placed ball by Geno Smith, and the Jets had to settle for a field goal.
Our first look at the defense showed us Quinton Coples lined up at cornerback with Darrin Walls coming over the top. Unfortunately, that was one of the few highlights. Calvin Pryor nearly picked off a pass and would have been able to run it back, but he just couldn’t hold on.
The first half felt very familiar for Jets fans. Smith threw an interception deep in his own territory, giving the Raiders great field position, which they used to score a touchdown. Later, after coming all the way back down the field, Smith, who ran a lot in the first half, fumbled on the Raiders three yard line.
The Jets did manage to put it together at the end of the half. New running back Chris Johnson made it over the goal line to score the first Jets touchdown of the season.
The second half featured a different looking defense that produced far more pressure with fewer blitzes and a lot more of just disrupting Carr’s rhythm. In spite of the Raiders putting on a horrific offensive display, the Jets barely broke through themselves. They had a field goal in the third quarter and then Smith kept the Raiders in the game by going down for a 19 yard sack instead of getting rid of the ball.
Chris Ivory broke through in the fourth quarter though, completing a 71 yard touchdown run to put the Jets up 19-7. The Jets then failed on the two point conversion. The Raiders managed to bring the score up to 19-14 late in the fourth on an absolutely incredible touchdown catch by James Jones. The Jets held on to win when the Raiders failed to recover an onside kick.
Penalties really hurt the Jets this game, as they should have had more points than they did, but kept getting hit with 10 yard penalties, stalling drives. On Oakland’s last drive, a pass interference call and a roughing the passer call gave the Raiders an extra 31 yards. Some of the calls were weak, but the Jets are going to have to cut down on penalties going into a pretty brutal stretch of the season, when they face Green Bay, Chicago, Detroit, San Diego, Denver, and New England. Those teams will take much better advantage of mistakes than Oakland did.
That said, there were a lot of things to like about this game. In spite of some mistakes by Smith, he looked a lot better than he did even at the end of last season. His footwork is better, he’s making better reads, and he’s cut down on a lot of risky throws. Antonio Allen put on a tackling clinic. Quinton Coples nearly crushed Maurice Jones Drew. The cornerbacks weren’t targeted too much, but they looked okay in their limited tests. Dawan Landry had a sack.
Smith’s final line on the day was 22/28 for 221 yards with 1 interception, 1 lost fumble, 1 sack and a quarterback rating of 96.6. The leading rusher was Chris Ivory, with 10 carries for 102 yards, followed by Chris Johnson with 13 carries for 68 yards. Even with a big pass gain wiped out due to offensive pass interference, Eric Decker had five receptions for 74 yards, leading all New York’s receivers.
The defense got better as the game went on. Oakland had 25 rushing yards for the whole game, and only 151 receiving yards.
Winning this game was important for the Jets, since they head into a 7 week stretch where they face offenses much better than their own. New York visits Green Bay next weekend to play the Packers. Kickoff is at 4:25.