DETROIT - The Jets essentially left Ford Field in a getaway car and wearing ski masks yesterday, escaping with a 23-20 overtime victory over the Lions on the strength of Nick Folk's 30-yard field goal 2:18 into the extra session.
The Jets overcame a game in which three of their 11 penalties directly led to Detroit touchdowns - one on the game's opening drive, another on the Lions' first second-half possession and another early in the fourth quarter for what appeared to be a game-sealing score. When they got the ball with 4:26 remaining in regulation, they trailed by 10 points.
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"Putting ourselves in holes like this is unacceptable," right guard Brandon Moore said. "It's been a string of games - three, four, even going back to the Baltimore game - with penalties and just lack of discipline is really getting in the way of us being a productive team. But we won the game and we are 6-2."
For the better part of the game's initial 50 minutes, however, this one had all the makings of another brutal loss. Detroit took a 7-0 lead on its first possession and the Jets didn't grab their first advantage until Mark Sanchez, who threw for a career-high 336 yards, hooked up with Braylon Edwards for a 74-yard score a minute before halftime.
The Jets fell behind 20-10 early in the fourth quarter and shaved that deficit to three on Sanchez's 1-yard keeper with 2:46 left in regulation. But hey, they apparently had the Lions exactly where they wanted them.
With Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford having been knocked out of the game with a right shoulder injury, the Lions (2-6) helped the Jets' cause when backup Drew Stanton threw an incomplete pass on third-and-6. That gave the Jets at least an extra 30 seconds to work with.
When the Jets got the ball back with 1:40 remaining, Sanchez knew it was time to get their fast-paced attack cranked up.
"We're going to have to keep going in two-minute here, but at the same time, we have plenty of time," he said of his thinking at the time. "In that situation, it's a lifetime. That's where you can get lost in thinking, 'I have to throw it down the field and score, I have to make up something really big.' But that's when you've got to get back to basics.
"Be accurate with the ball. Give your guys a chance. Understand down and distance. Throw it away if you have to. And I was just thinking, we better start throwing this thing quick."
Sanchez whipped the ball around, completing 4 of 5 attempts for 35 yards on the tying nine-play, 60-yard drive. LaDainian Tomlinson also was a major contributor, catching three passes for 24 yards and picking up a critical first down at the Lions' 43 that looked even better when Julian Peterson was flagged for a late hit out of bounds on Tomlinson, putting the ball at the Detroit 28.
Four plays later, Folk drilled a 36-yarder as time expired to send the game to overtime, and the Jets wasted little time delivering the knockout blow. The Jets won the coin toss and Sanchez connected with Santonio Holmes for 52 yards on the Jets' second play of overtime, putting the ball at the Lions' 16.
"They left a big void in the middle on the in route and I made a big play," said Holmes, who finished with 114 yards on five receptions. "I was looking forward to scoring a touchdown - my first as a Jet - to at least win the game and . . . a linebacker ran me down and that's very unacceptable by me and unacceptable in our receiver room. I know I might get fined by my receiver coach. But the win is what we needed and it's something we can build from."
All thanks to Folk's game-winner.
"Quite honestly, we prefer a first-round knockout, and that didn't happen," coach Rex Ryan said. "We got knocked down a few times today. We were bloodied and all of that, but we win it in the championship round. That speaks volumes of your football team."
Still, it's not something they're trying to get used to.
"It's the same old song," Edwards said. "Nobody is saying we played well today because the truth of the matter is, for the most part we didn't. We did what was necessary at the end of the game to win. But playing your tougher opponents, your most consistent opponents, this isn't good enough. So we've got to correct it. This is three weeks in a row we are giving the same song, the same answers. But it is what it is.
"We've got to figure out what it's going to take to be more consistent, to be a team of consistency, a team that people can really be scared of, because right now, with all these inconsistencies on offense, we are not scaring anybody. People are playing to beat us and they can beat us. Just like today, we almost got beat."