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The Jets Stage Another Reverse and Overwhelm the Broncos

Category: Other Sports,Sports

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Jets Coach Todd Bowles is known for his even-keeled temperament, for never being too high or too low, which is somewhat remarkable given that his team is as consistent as a coin toss.

One week, the Jets look like a lineup of Pro Bowlers — namely in their Monday-night season opener in Detroit. Then the next three weeks, they regress, and regress, and regress some more, giving fans the maddening, but familiar, feeling that nothing has really improved.

Which brings us to this Sunday, at MetLife Stadium, when the Jets took on the Denver Broncos, a quasi contender with a stalwart run defense. And somehow, the Jets gathered 323 yards on the ground, established a franchise record for an individual rushing performance (Isaiah Crowell’s 219 yards), and, with a 34-16 victory, made their fans start dreaming again.

The Jets — and you might need to sit down before reading this — were absolutely explosive on offense against the Broncos, gashing them for plays that gained 77, 76, 54, 38, 36 and 35 yards. The Jets’ output on offense (512 yards) was the team’s highest since 2013.

Such wild inconsistency makes it hard to predict what might yet be in store. But for now, the Jets can savor an outburst so rare that it was the first time that they scored two touchdowns of more than 75 yards in a game since Joe Namath orchestrated that feat against the Baltimore Colts in 1972.

The beneficiaries of Sunday’s pyrotechnics were Crowell, who averaged nearly 15 yards a carry; wide receiver Robby Anderson, who made three catches for 123 yards and two touchdowns; and quarterback Sam Darnold, who completed only 10 passes but made three of them count for scores and looked elated to be presented opportunities to finally fling the ball downfield.

“I’m starting to feel the rhythm of Robby’s timing and how fast he gets downfield,” Darnold said afterward, adding, “It’s just a matter of time when we click and our offense is rolling on all cylinders.”

The chance to air it out materialized because of how the Jets were running the ball with Crowell and Bilal Powell, who added 99 yards on the ground.

“We knew we had to run the ball more,” Bowles said. “We had to run the ball better. I think that helped out a lot.”

With the Jets trailing by 7-0 in the second quarter, Crowell broke one tackle, crossed up another defender and then outran two more Broncos on his way to a 77-yard touchdown, the Jets’ longest scoring run since 1996.

“I feel like we have weapons,” Crowell said. “I feel like if we play off each other and do what we’re supposed to do and play to our potential, we can’t be stopped.”

On the team’s next drive, Darnold spotted Anderson racing past cornerback Bradley Roby and, as his pocket collapsed, hit him in stride for a 76-yard score.

“The way that we were running the ball, you have to an extra guy in there in the box,” Darnold said. “That helps everything.”

Darnold’s finest pass came later in the second quarter, when Anderson again had Roby beaten by a step. This time, the ball was deposited right into his hands for a 35-yard score.

“It was on the money,” Anderson said. “He dropped it right where it needed to be.”

The Jets were playing without several key defensive players, including the starting cornerback Trumaine Johnson. Also missing was the defensive coordinator, Kacy Rodgers, who is battling an unspecified health issue that Bowles termed “serious” earlier last week.

Bowles called the plays for the defense in the absence of Rodgers, who is his longtime friend as well as one of his assistants. Bowles informed the team on Friday afternoon that Rodgers was unlikely to coach against Denver, and held an additional, unplanned meeting with the defense to make sure everyone was on the same page.

“We had a brother down,” safety Jamal Adams said. “That was our message. We wanted to play for him.”

The Jets’ defense rallied for several critical third-down stops against the Broncos and, over all, held them to just four of 14 conversions on third down and just one touchdown on four incursions into the red zone. With nine minutes left, and trailing by 17 points, Denver (2-3) went for it on fourth down on the Jets’ 6. But the Jets chased quarterback Case Keenum out of the pocket, and his pass was knocked away in the end zone, giving the Jets the ball.

Six plays later, receiver Terrelle Pryor made a juggling catch in the end zone for the Jets’ seventh play of at least 20 yards.

“I think we finally got to a point where enough is enough,” said defensive end Leonard Williams, who finished the game with two and a half sacks. “We lost three in a row. Hopefully, going forward, we don’t need to lose any more to play this way and we continue to win.”

And then he caught himself and echoed his coach. “Not to get too high or too low,’’ he said.


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