A win is a win in the NFL. So goes the cliche. You take one however it comes, should you be so fortunate.
The Jets now have four of them to only one defeat after Monday’s night triumph over the Vikings and Brett Favre and Randy Moss.
I’m not sure whether it’s on account of me being objective or, you know, a self-proclaimed self-loathing Jets fan, but while basking in Victory Lane’s afterglow last night, I couldn’t suppress a dull, nagging cynicism.
This, of course, is because Darrelle Revis, whose balky left hamstring I’ve seemingly written of ad infinitum in this space, was last seen hobbling around the field in the second half, tailing the likes of Minnesota’s last-string wide receiver, Greg Lewis, who’s generally regarded as a sub-replacement level player. Revis was never matched up against the Vikings’ best receiver, the newly acquired Randy Moss, and his first-half efforts against speedster Percy Harvin could be best categorized as the old college try, which is to say we’re not accustomed to seeing Revis’ man earn separation, haul in a pass and scamper into the end zone with the All-Pro corner left to bemoan what went awry.
All of this amounts to the Jets now having to face the never-pleasant trip to Denver for a Week 6 matchup against the feisty Broncos, likely (again) without the services of their best player. A bye looms in Week 7 for Gang Green, so it stands to reason that they’ll proceed with caution and afford Revis what would effectively amount to three weeks’ rest by the time they suit up for their Week 8 tilt against the Packers at the Meadowlands.
Even then, as we’ve learned once already, there’s no guarantee that Revis will be fully healed. The severity of the re-injury remains in question, but then again, it was, too, the first time around, and three weeks proved insufficient as mending time.
So, this is my obligatory buck of cold water on what is an otherwise joyous morning after a win on Monday Night Football, a pleasantry denied the Jets and their fans after Week 1′s embarrassment at the hands of the Ravens.
We celebrate the win but are compelled to ask the tough questions. If it were apparent even before the game that Revis was not completely healthy (which seems to have been the case, seeing as he was not matched up against Moss), why was he playing? Further, as the game progressed and it became increasingly apparent that his hamstring was bothering him and he was not capable of covering a living, breathing player (i.e. not Lewis), why wasn’t he removed from the game?
I, for one, can only speculate that the specter of Revis was enough to dissuade the Vikings’ coaches from looking in Harvin’s direction for much of the game, that is until Revis’ lameness was too apparent to ignore. Instead, they fixated on Moss, who was admirably blanketed by Antonio Cromartie yet again (he turned the same trick in Week 2, when Moss was still a Pat). Cromartie, he of the wide-receiver’s build and top-end speed, is proving an ideal candidate to cover prototypical go-route runners like Moss. It played well enough into the Jets’ hands for the first half, as Adrian Peterson was reasonably contained and Favre heaved several in-your-general-vicinity lobs Moss’ way without any luck. It appeared at the game’s midpoint that Minnesota’s offense would limp (pun recognized but not intentional, Brett) out of the Meadowlands without much fight.
The second half was a different game, really, and when it was all said and done, the difference between a Jets win despite the likely loss of Revis and the doubly unbearable combination of a Jets defeat and the likely loss of Revis was a matter of Brett being Brett. The Vikings finally recognized what the rest of us detected in Week 3, which is that the Jets’ secondary is entirely vulnerable without the services of its lockdown corner, and they picked it apart accordingly. Moss beat Cromartie on an exemplary pass and catch twixt the former and Favre, and the spry Harvin abused Revis and the mish-mosh of deficient defensive backs who covered Harvin in Revis’ stead.
Favre, though, spared the Jets from what would have been a tough-to-stomach defeat, gifting them a pick-six at seemingly the least opportune time in a way that only he can and in a way with which Gang Green is all too familiar. Dwight Lowery took a late-game interception to the proverbial house, giving the Jets a two-score lead and all but ending the game.
Three Minnesota turnovers to New York’s ultimately accounts for the difference in final score, as the Vikings otherwise narrowly outgained the Jets by 12 yards on 16 fewer plays. That, my friends, is a rather decisive edge in the all-important yards-per-play column, and it bodes well for Minnesota moving forward.
For New York, though, it’s an ominous reminder that, in some respects, it was fortunate to earn a victory. Don’t get me wrong, there were more than a few encouraging signs from the Jets. The rushing attack was positively impressive considering it was lining up against the Vikings’ stingy run defense. Spearheading that, again, was the resurgent LaDainian Tomlinson, who continues to prove there’s plenty left in his tank. Shonn Greene, too, was solid in relief of LT, and Mark Sanchez preserved his turnover-less streak, no small contribution in light of the differentials in turnovers (3:0, in favor of the Jets) and the aforementioned yards per play (5.4 to 4.2, in favor of the Vikes).
But the win-at-all-cost sense of urgency that hastened Revis’ return to lineup was dubious at best, because we’re left to wonder whether the Jets will remain Felicity’s favorite children in the coming weeks without his contributions. More pointedly, will opposing offenses realize sooner than the second half that a defense boasting a half-speed Revis (or none at all) isn’t so scary, after all?