Sanchez leads rout of Chiefs
So when Ryan met with the team Saturday night, he issued a directive: Enough with the slow, sloppy starts.
"Rex challenged us," guard Brandon Moore said, "saying it doesn't have to be so hard, you don't have to wait until the fourth quarter to put teams to bed. I think guys took to that challenge and understood that we need to start coming out fast.
"We are trying to make a playoff push here and are trying to win these last few games. We need to come out better than we do in the first half of games."
The Jets sure stepped on the Chiefs' necks from the get-go Sunday, scoring a touchdown on their opening 11-play, 77-yard drive. They found the end zone on three straight second-quarter possessions and rattled off 28 straight points, easily blowing past the Chiefs, 37-10, at MetLife Stadium. The game's only negative was a possible season-ending right knee injury to safety Jim Leonhard.
"It felt really good to sit back and just laugh," wideout Santonio Holmes said, "and watch the young guys play a little. I'll take it, I'll take it."
With their third straight victory -- along with losses by the Bengals, Raiders and Titans -- the Jets (8-5) vaulted into the AFC's second wild-card spot. With three games left, they now control their own playoff fate, which seemed unlikely a month ago when they were 5-5 after back-to-back losses.
"We've never worried about what other teams are doing because for us, we have to win," running back LaDainian Tomlinson said. "If we lose, it doesn't even matter what other teams are doing.''
Mark Sanchez threw two touchdown passes, a 19-yarder to Tomlinson and a 4-yard dart to Holmes. Sanchez also ran for two short TDs, becoming the first quarterback in franchise history to run and throw for multiple scores in a game. Sanchez completed 13 of 21 attempts for 181 yards, posting a 121.3 passer rating.
Shonn Greene churned out a season-high 129 yards on 24 carries, including a 7-yard touchdown. He had a career-high 187 total yards, adding three receptions for 58.
The Jets were 5-for-5 in the red zone, and their 28 first-half points were their most since they collected 35 against the Cardinals in 2008. Their 253 yards in the first half was the most since they amassed 278 against Buffalo in 2008.
"I think things were clicking, the running game was phenomenal," Sanchez said. "It set up a lot. In our passing game, we were pretty efficient, and I still left some completions out there that could have helped us late in the game. But we got off to a fast start, and that's important. Rex likes to see that from the offense and it definitely does give the team a boost, so that's good."
Said Greene, "We were just clicking. We just had a rhythm, and when this team has a rhythm, we can be unstoppable."
The Jets also suffocated the Chiefs' anemic offense, yielding only a 53-yard field goal by Ryan Succop before Tyler Palko's meaningless 24-yard touchdown pass to Jerheme Urban with 12:58 left. In the first half, they held Kansas City (5-8) to 4 net yards, picked off Palko once, didn't allow a third-down conversion, surrendered one measly first down and forced four punts.
So the Jets had it going in virtually every aspect, never once looking as if they were going to stumble, and improved to 6-1 at home.
"We didn't have stupid penalties, the turnovers, the defense started faster, and the offense went down and scored," linebacker Calvin Pace said. "It's what we've been talking about for the last 12, 13 weeks, and it all came to form today, which is what we needed. We kind of hold our own destiny in our own hands, and it was about getting a good win, which was important.
"Some teams lost that we wanted to lose, which is good. So we've just got to win the rest of our games. Is it going to be easy? No. We've got some good teams coming up. But I think if we just stay the course and keep building from these last three, everything will fall into place for us."