The Oakland Raiders improved to 2-4 as they fought their way to an overtime victory over the New York Jets.
A defense that gave up 34 points just a week before took a stand against a Jets’ offense that was averaging over 28 points per game.
The Raiders allowed only three points for the Jets—scored on their opening drive. After that drive the Raiders played iron-clad football, forbidding the Jets to ever hit a rhythm.
Offensively, both teams played with minimal aggression, fearful of allowing momentum to swing in either direction.
Penalty flags flew early and often, but neither team managed to capitalize on the other’s errors.
It took the fourth quarter for either team to come alive.
A fake punt from Oakland and a last minute drive to tie from New York provided the first actual attempts at winning a football game for the entire afternoon.
Jets never took off
The Jets looked ready to attack from the start, running their offense in a no huddle with a five receiver set.
It worked for the opening drive only as Jay Feely put a field goal through the uprights. But the Raiders refused to let the quick approach get the best of them.
On a day where Thomas Jones gashed the Raiders’ defense for over 150 yards, one has to wonder if the Jets first two drives would have been different had they utilized him from the beginning.
Hindsight is indeed 20/20, but adjustments could have been made when it was obvious Oakland wasn’t going to allow any big plays through the air. Rob Ryan’s defense put a premium on covering the pass after allowing over 300 yards in a loss to New Orleans.
Defensively, the Jets’ pass rush, which was tied for second in the NFL for sacks, only reached JaMarcus Russell once on a throw-away play to close out the first half.
A quarterback that has been known to make mistakes under pressure was given the time to execute and play pitch-and-catch with his receivers.
Russell was allowed the opportunity to establish a rhythm against a Jets’ defense that clearly underestimated his ability to hit his receivers.
When statistics lie
Coming into the game, New York was third in the NFL against the run, a statistic that should have matched up favorably against Oakland’s fourth-best rush attack.
Unfortunately, the Jets hadn’t played a team that was truly successful in the run-game.
Darren McFadden and Justin Fargas challenged the defense, and came up with a combined total of 112 yards on the ground.
It’s not an incredibly impressive statistic, but it was key to Oakland’s offensive success as they moved the ball and controlled the clock.
JaMarcus Russell’s statistics and history were also a non-factor on Sunday.
Russell was quicker with his decision-making, and refused to turn the ball over to a Jets’ team desperately seeking a spark.
No intensity in New York
New coaches, new players, and the same identity continue to plague Jets’ fans. Year in and year out, the Jets lose games to opponents most pundits believe they should defeat.
While other teams take the field with a plan in mind, with motivation to attack and to impose their will, the Jets remain monotonous.
The Jets three losses this season have come from teams with something to prove.
The New England Patriots defeated the Jets when they wanted to prove they were still a great team without Tom Brady. The San Diego Chargers steamrolled over New York after letting two straight games slip away. And the Raiders were desperate for a win at home for their new coach after an embarrassing loss on the road.
Where is New York’s motivation? Where’s the resiliency? Is there any fight or desire to make the team play their game?
What is the Jets game, anyway?
It’s really a question of heart.
The Jets took an aggressive approach to acquiring talent in the offseason in an effort to close the gap on a team that no longer controls their division. But football games are not won on paper.
When the game no longer becomes a chess match and turns into a battle of wills between the men on the field, do the Jets have what it takes to come out on top?