Week 7 Game Recap: New York Jets 14, Atlanta Falcons 27
What you need to know
The tone of this game was set early. Before the Jets could barely blink, they were trailing 20-0. Their first five possessions netted more lost fumbles than first downs (three to two). Though the Jets would fight back to see the light, they had already dug themselves into a hole that they would not be able to climb out of.
Quarterback, Vinny Testaverde, was credited with all four Jets’ turnovers; Testaverde fumbled to end three of the Jets’ first four possessions. He later threw an interception on third and long. In Testaverde’s defense, much of the blame can be placed squarely on the Jets’ offensive line. Four of the five opening day starters are playing in different positions due to injuries, most notably to six time Pro Bowl center, Kevin Mawae, who is out for the season. Former starting left guard, Pete Kendall, slid over one spot and started his first game at center since the 2003 season, when he played for the Cardinals. Kendall and Testaverde mishandled the exchange on the Jets’ second play of the game. The Falcons capitalized on the fumble with a one yard Michael Vick touchdown run seven plays later and never looked back.
The Jets have to be concerned about the offensive line play. The Falcons frequently discovered a seemingly open door into the Jets’ backfield, especially through the heart of the New York line. Testaverde’s two other fumbles occurred on plays where he had no chance to evade the rush. You can fault him for not being able to hold the ball, but you can’t fault him for getting hit so easily.
Jets’ turnovers led directly to Atlanta’s first 17 points. The New York defense was able to hold the Falcons’ offense to one additional first half field goal and things briefly improved for Testaverde and the Jets. Testaverde led the Jets on an eight play 63 yard drive that cut the lead to 20-7 late in the first half and gave the Jets hope. However, New York’s first drive of the second half lost two yards, and the Falcons answered with a 13 play touchdown drive to make the score 27-7.
After one additional series ended in an interception, Testaverde was forced to leave the game with what was described as a right Achilles/calf strain. Though Testaverde has already lost a season to an Achilles injury, that one was to his left leg. The Jets are hoping that the current injury is not that serious and that he can return after next week’s bye.
Former Clemson standout, Justin Miller, had a 95 yard kickoff return for a touchdown called back on a holding penalty.
The Falcons had a lot to be happy about in this game. They created four turnovers and ran for 205 yards, the fourth time that they have surpassed 200 rushing yards in a game this season. Warrick Dunn had a great game, finishing with 155 yards on 24 carries, including a 65 yards burst that led to a field goal. The always dangerous Michael Vick had two rushing touchdowns, but his passing numbers were terrible. He finished 11-26 for 116 yards and three interceptions for a 16.9 rating. Though the Falcons jumped out to a big early lead, they did not put the final nail in the Jets’ coffin until Demorrio Williams batted down a fourth down Brooks Bollinger pass from the Atlanta 11 yard line with 3:39 left. Had the Jets been able to make that conversion and get into the end zone, the Falcons would have led by only six points.
The Falcons’ defense played very well, limiting the Jets to 37 rushing yards one week after giving up 211 yards on the ground to the hapless Saints. The Falcons also created four turnovers and were able to put near constant pressure on the New York quarterbacks.
The Falcons entered the game with the fewest receptions by wide receivers in the NFL and that trend continued as Atlanta wide receivers caught only three passes for 28 yards in this game.
The biggest criticism of the Falcons is that they allowed the Jets to stay in the game longer than necessary. With the success that Atlanta was having with the running game and with Vick struggling through the air, the Falcons probably should have been more cautious with their lead and kept the ball on the ground. Justin Griffith was deserving of more carries.
Atlanta did not escape the game unscathed. Wide receiver, Michael Jenkins, sprained an ankle and defensive end, Brady Smith, broke a toe. Neither was able to return. Kick returner/cornerback, Allen Rossum, also left the game with cramps.
What you ought to know
Bollinger replaced Vinny Testaverde with about a minute left in the third quarter and the Jets trailing 27-7. He drove the Jets to one touchdown and had them knocking on the door for another before his fourth and one pass from the Atlanta eleven yard line was batted down at the line of scrimmage. The Falcons blitzed Bollinger heavily and he stood in the pocket with remarkable composure. He was forced to run twice and though he only gained eight yards, he made at least one defender miss with a nifty move on each occasion. The majority of Bollinger’s passes were short to medium routes.
Testaverde’s game started and ended on the wrong foot. Testaverde was credited with a lost fumble on the Jets’ second play from scrimmage. The fumble was the result of a bad exchange with new center Pete Kendall. Testaverde’s night ended after DeAngelo Hall intercepted a third and thirteen pass in the third quarter. Testaverde was trying to hit Laveranues Coles on a deep pass down the right sideline. Though, the pass was intercepted, the net result was as good as a punt. After that pass, Testaverde was forced to leave the game with an injury to his right Achilles. In between those plays, things were up and down for Testaverde. After his initial fumble, Testaverde fumbled on two of the Jets’ next three possessions. However, each fumble was the result of Falcons’ defenders getting into the backfield unscathed. Testaverde had no chance to evade the pursuit. Testaverde’s night was not all bad. He led the Jets on an eight play, 63 yard touchdown drive that ended with his one yard plunge into the end zone. Considering the fierce pass rush he faced, Testaverde’s passing numbers could have been much worse.
Though Martin did not practice during most of the past week, he started this game as usual. In fact, Martin has now started 114 consecutive games, a streak of more than seven years. Martin did not exhibit any lingering effects of his injury. However, he only totaled 28 yards on 14 attempts. Martin did have a one yard run for the Jets’ second touchdown.
Sowell, the New York fullback, played less than usual as the Jets were more effective in the three wide receiver set. He did contribute three receptions on four targets in the second half.
Coles was the leading receiver for the game, finishing just shy of 100 receiving yards. Though Coles was targeted deep a number of times, his long reception went for 15 yards. Coles was called for a pass interference penalty that negated a nice gain. He hurt his hand late in the game, but missed only one play before returning.
Chrebet helped to move the chains on shorter routes, especially after Bollinger took over at quarterback. He was wide open on a deep crossing route that would have probably gained 20-30 yards, but Bollinger tried to go for the homerun pass to McCareins instead.
McCareins was able to get wide open down the sideline for a 35 yard gain on what turned out to be the Jets’ biggest gain of the night. His other catch was for 11 yards. McCareins was the intended receiver into the end zone on a Bollinger pass that was just the slightest bit too high; he was just able to get his fingertips on the ball. He also had a long reception called back for offensive interference.
Cotchery caught a quick out for seven yards on a play when the Jets ran a four receiver set.
Baker was barely involved in the passing game.
Nugent hit both of his extra point attempts. He did not get any field goal tries.
The Falcons led the NFL in rushing coming into the game and led it by a bigger margin afterwards. The Jets allowed Atlanta to gain 205 yards on the ground on 38 attempts (a 5.4 average), despite the fact that they were often playing a five man defensive line and with eight players in the box. The Jets were mostly able to contain Michael Vick, though he did have two short runs for touchdowns. However, Warrick Dunn had a huge game for the Falcons, gaining 155 yards on 24 carries. Dunn had a 65 yard run that might have gone for a touchdown, but David Barrett was able to catch him.
Linebacker, Eric Barton injured a triceps and is expected to be out for the remainder of the season.
The Jets’ pass defense was outstanding. Michael Vick completed only 11 of 26 passes for 116 yards. The Jets were able to sack the elusive Vick three times and kept him from running wild. The longest Falcons’ completion went for 23 yards. The defense also chipped in three interceptions that helped to keep the Jets in the game. John Abraham had one and a half sacks. Dewayne Robertson contributed five tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble. Jonathan Vilma, David Barrett, and Ty Law each had interceptions. Law’s interception was created as Vilma crushed Vick just as he was releasing a pass, causing the pass to flutter high in the air. Barrett broke up an attempted pass to Michael Jenkins that could have gone for a touchdown.
|QB Michael Vick, Pass: 11 - 26 - 116 - 0 TD / 3 INT, Rush: 9 - 18 - 2|
The two rushing TDs salvaged the night, but Vick did not have a good game. Many of his passes were erratic. He overthrew a number of receivers. His long completion went to security blanket, Alge Crumpler for 23 yards. His three interceptions helped to keep the Jets in the game far too long. A 16.9 passer rating says a lot. Though Vick only gained eighteen yards on the ground, his runs helped to keep the chains moving. The Jets’ five man line did a good job of containing Vick.
|RB Warrick Dunn, Rush: 24 - 155 - 0, Rec: 2 - 6 - 0 (3 targets)|
With T.J. Duckett out of the lineup due to injury, Warrick Dunn had the opportunity to get some extra carries. He took full advantage and had an excellent night. Despite the fact that the Jets frequently used five man fronts with eight and sometimes nine players in the box, Dunn was able to consistently break off nice runs. He ran with surprising power between the tackles. He had a long run of 65 yards. If he could have beaten one more man, it might have been a 95 yard touchdown. Dunn leads all active running backs with 12 carries of 50 yards or more. Dunn almost made it into the end zone, but was stopped four times inside the one yard line, or his night would have been even better.
Starting fullback, Griffith got extra work due to Duckett’s absence as well. When Warrick Dunn needed a breather, Griffith shifted to tailback. Though he only had five caries, he gained 32 yards. He had a long gain of 19 yards. Griffith was quick to hit the hole and ran with power. Prior to the game, Griffith had only two carries for nine yards.
McCrary played fullback when Griffith switched to tailback. He had one reception.
Roddy White had two of the three catches made by Falcons’ wide receivers.
Though he was Atlanta’s most targeted wide receiver, Michael Jenkins had only one reception. He left the game in the third quarter with an ankle injury and did not return. Jenkins was the target on a pass that David Barrett was barely able to get a hand on in the end zone.
Pathon was targeted once, but did not catch a pass.
Finneran, who seems to be head coach Mora’s favorite receiver, did not catch a pass. He had a drop on a nicely thrown pass by Vick that would have gone for a first down on third and long. Vick tried to sneak a deep ball to Finneran on a third and one, but was off target.
Vick’s favorite receiver led the Falcons in receiving with four catches. He had Atlanta’s longest reception of the game (23 yards). Crumpler also had another long gain called back due to penalty. Crumpler bobbled a pass that was thrown a little behind him. The pass still should have been caught, but was instead intercepted.
Peterson made both of his field goal attempts (from 22 and 41 yards). He is now a perfect ten for ten on field goals for the season. Peterson hit all three of his extra point attempts as well.
The Falcons held the Jets to 37 yards rushing. Curtis Martin had only 28 yards on 14 carries. His long gain went for 11 yards. The Atlanta defensive line frequently penetrated the Jets’ offensive line. After allowing over 200 yards rushing to the Saints, this was quite a performance.
The Falcons’ pass defense held the Jets under 200 yards in passing, created three turnovers, four sacks, and a touchdown. The pass rush was fierce throughout the game. Antwan Lake had five tackles with a sack and a forced fumble. Rod Coleman’s sack forced a Testaverde fumble that backup defensive lineman Chauncey Davis grabbed and returned 24 yards for a touchdown. DeAngelo Hall picked off his fourth pass of the season. Linebacker, Demorrio Williams, had ten tackles with a sack and a key pass defended on a Jets' fourth down play.