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Jets Show Up Just in Time for 28-24 Win

Sanchez's fourth touchdown of the game yanks victory from the jaws of defeat

By Josh Alper
|  Monday, Nov 28, 2011  |  Updated 1:15 PM EDT
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The bow is a bit undeserved, but the Jets can take one anyway.

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We haven't seen much of the Cardiac Jets that made the 2010 season so exciting, but they showed up just in time to save the season. 

Down 24-21 late in the fourth quarter, Mark Sanchez led the team on an 82-yard drive that ended with a touchdown to Santonio Holmes with one minute to play. It was Sanchez's career-high fourth touchdown pass of the day, a number that makes little sense when you watched him play poorly almost the entire day.

It wasn't over there, though. The Jets defense let the Bills drive all the way down the field on their final drive, but with visions of Denver dancing in everyone's head, they held on for a 28-21 win.

The game was a microcosm of everything that has gone wrong for the Jets this season. Their biggest flaws on offense, defense and special teams all contributed to put the Jets' backs up against the wall.

Offensively, Sanchez spent the first 55 minutes or so struggling as badly as he has at any point in his career. He was picked for the fifth straight game, setting up a Bills touchdown, and threw with about as much accuracy as an Oliver Stone film.

The Jets might have gotten blown out, in fact, if not for a pair of blunders just before halftime. Stevie Johnson celebrated a touchdown by mocking Plaxico Burress's self-inflicted gunshot wound and then drew a penalty when he went on to mimic a plane crashing into the ground as a play on Santonio Holmes' preferred celebration.

Johnson's antics are going to go viral, but the fact that he dropped two potential touchdowns on the final drive remind you that he has plenty of mockable items in his own cupboard. He complained that God had forsaken him after dropping what would have been a game-winning touchdown last season, which makes you wonder if the deity enjoys jokes at Plax's expense.

Bills kicker Dave Rayner flubbed the ensuing kickoff from the 20 and put the Jets in scoring position. Sanchez threw a touchdown to Burress, who chose not to respond to Johnson, and then hit Dustin Keller for a score in the third quarter for a score that seemed to swing momentum to the Jets.

It went away when Antonio Cromartie muffed a punt, the third straight week a Jets returner has fumbled the ball away, and the Bills scored a short time later to tie the game at 21. Cromartie was victimized by former Jet Brad Smith on the touchdown catch when Smith tipped the ball away from him before catching it, making it quite the pair of plays for the Jets cornerback.

Cromartie's play was indicative of the entire performance by the Jets defense. They were in position to make plays all day, but couldn't finish the Bills off while drives went on and on until the Bills wound up putting points on the scoreboard.

Darrelle Revis got picked on all day, losing almost every battle to Johnson, and the unit couldn't force a turnover against a Bills team that's been handing the ball over at every opportunity this season. The Bills made life difficult for themselves by committing plenty of bad penalties, but the Jets never took advantage of them to turn the game their way.

And, yet, the game did go the Jets' way. They got a win they had to have despite playing a pretty poor brand of football for the majority of the afternoon, which means they live to fight another day in their quest to make the postseason this season.

That doesn't erase everything that came before, but it does mitigate it a great deal. The Jets are in their playoffs right now and the result is paramount when you get to that point in the season.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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