Follow along as we update you on the Jets-Colts AFC Wild Card playoff game.
**SCORING UPDATE: 17-16, Jets. FINAL**
Mark Sanchez and the Jets are out for revenge as they face the Colts in an AFC Wild Card playoff game.
Good evening, Jets enthusiasts! Welcome to the AFC Wild Card game. I'm Laura Albanese and I'll be your trusty sidekick through what many people are touting as one of the most evenly-matched contests of this first round, as six-seeded Gang Green (11-5) take on Peyton Manning and the No. 3 Colts (10-6) at Lucas Oil Field.
I won't get too fancy on y'all, since Newsday has done a pretty primo job of previewing all this stuff for you already. Scorll down (past game action) for some pre-game notes.
Fourth Quarter: 17-16, JETS
Jets Field Goal Drive: 5 plays, 40 yards, 0:53; Folk 32 yd. field goal
Key Plays: Sanchez's 11-yard completion to Holmes is good for a first down on the Indy 32 with 36 seconds remaining. Folk is getting warmed up. After a short gain, Sanchez unleashes to Edwards deep right for 18 yards. Edwards just coralls it before falling out of bounds to set up the chip shot.
Colts Field Goal Drive: 8 plays, 48 yards, 1:43; Vinatieri 50 yd. field goal
Key Plays: Vinatieri continues to be money in the post-season. He's kicked three Super Bowl-winning field goals and his 50-yard bomb with 57 seconds left may just be the difference.
Prior: Huge break for the Jets as the Smith gets called for running into Weathorford on the punt. Jets regain possession with a first down on their own 30.
Colts Field Goal Drive: 13 plays, 67 yards, 5:22; Vinatieri 32 yd. field goal
Key Plays: At first-and-10 on the Jets 18, Rhodes takes the handoff twice for gains of three and one yard (he's stopped by Pool on that last attempt) to force the field goal. Earlier in the drive, Manning makes another nice pass to Garcon for 21 yards to covert a third-and-8 and set up the score.
Jets Scoring Drive: 17 plays, 87 yards, 9:54; Tomlinson 1 yd. run
Key Plays: Sanchez' pass to Keller over the middle on second-and-9 at the Indy 14 is good for 11 yards. After a two-yard gain by Greene, the Jets are stopped on the next two plays before Tomlinson bursts through the endzone untouched off right guard for the score (the Jets first lead of the game) with 10:03 left to play.
Third Quarter: 10-7, COLTS
With first-and-10 at the Indy 42, Pat Angerer makes a big stop, slamming Shonn Greene for -2 yards. The Jets end the quarter second-and-12 at the Indy 44.
Colts Field Goal Drive: 9 plays, 45 yards, 4:55; Vinatieri 47 yd. field goal
Key Plays: David Harris stuffs Rhodes for -1 yard on third-and-1 at the Jets 28 to set up the field goal; Vinatieri does his thing and it sails true-blue. On third-and-9 on their own 49, Addai takes off off right tackle for a 14 yard gain to help kick off the drive.
Jets Scoring Drive: 10 plays, 63 yards, 5:12; Tomlinson 1 yd. run
Key Plays: Sanchez hits Keller again for a 20-yard gain over the middle to put the Jets at first-and-10 at the Indy 23 and Tomlinson's 11 yard run on the next play puts them in shooting distance. After two short gains, Tomlinson scrambles off right guard for the score. The Jets made good on excellent field position after Antonio Cromartie's 41 yard kickoff return put them at their own 42.
- HALFTIME STATS -
Players who have impressed: Manning (10-for-13, 122 yards, 1 TD); Garcon (3 rec., 77 yards, 1 TD); Muir (two tackles, sack); Tomlinson (7 car., 49 yards); Harris (six tackles); Revis (limited Wayne to one yard offense)
Players who struggled: Sanchez (9-for-19, 84 yards, 1 INT); Wayne (1 rec., 1 yard)
Second Quarter- 7-0, Colts
The Jets threaten after Sanchez's 14-yard pass to Santonio Holmes put them at the 19, but his floater to Keller in the endzone fall incomplete. Two plays later, he throws a pick to the left side of the endzone, intended for Keller and taken by Justin Tryon to the Indy 23.
Colts Scoring Drive: 5 plays, 80 yards, 2:44; Manning 57-yard pass to Garcon
Key Plays: Manning's hits wide open Pierre Garcon on a deep out route for the 57-yard TD with 5:44 left in the second. The scoring pass was set up by the first play of the drive - a short pass to White for 11 yards.
Before the score: Offense started to click a little for the Colts, as Manning hits Jacob Tamme to convert a third-and-6 and put Indianapolis at their own 47 at the beginning of the frame. That was their best field position today by far. It's all for naught, though, as Revis slams Wayne for no gain on third-and-eight and the Colts are forced to punt. (Revis has limited Wayne to one -one!- yard of offense so far.)
Sanchez's 24-yard pass to a leaping Braylon Edwards over the middle put the Jets at their own 48, but they get no farther than the 49 after a five-yard delay of game penalty. The Colts score on their next possession.
Big tackle of Blair White by Brodney Pool on third-and-1 on the Indy 29 on a short pass from Manning to stop a possible big play. Nothing doing from either team early, with the Colts going three-and-out on their first possession and the Jets not faring much better. LT looking promising, with two carries for 24 yards (OK, yes, 23 of those yards came on a nifty little run up the right sideline).
Weatherford's touchback puts the Colts at the 20 with 6:17 left in the frame. Jets stop the Colts again in a third-and-short situation, but the Jets don't capitalize and go three-and-out on two short runs and an incomplete pass. Sanchez looking shaky, and so far is 3-for-7 for 12 yards.
Colts end the first quarter on a promising drive, with 12 and 11 yard passes to Dominic Rhodes. They'll kick off the second quarter at second-and-10 at their own 37.
The Jets and the Colts are teams on different trajectories. After a strong first half, the Jets went on a late-season swoon, going 3-2 in the final five weeks of play: a stretch that was kicked off by a pretty severe-butt kicking by their friendly neighborhood Patriots and was salvaged by 38-7 drubbing of the lowly Bills in regular-season finale. The Colts, meanwhile, were 6-6 before embarking on a four-game win streak to end the season - playing the Titans twice and holding Chris Johnson to 39 yards in the must-win finale.
Right now, the Colts will have to channel that same mojo that was able to contain Maurice Jones-Drew, Johnson and company during the run to their NFL-record tying eighth AFC South title. Of course, this time, they face a thoroughly rested LaDainien Tomlinson and Shonn Green to contend with, though Tomlinson has had his well-publicized struggles with big games.
Meanwhile, if the Jets are going to thrive, it'll have to be against (arguably, with a hat-tip to Tom Brady) one of the scariest QBs in the game. In case you missed it, Rex Ryan really, really, really wants to beat Manning. Indeed, the pass rush will be key to the Jets success, and, if there was a bright side to facing Manning, it's that they'll be doing so without two of his favorite targets in Dallas Clark and Austin Collie - not that that's slowed him down too much. He's thrown 33 TD passes with 17 INTs and has only been sacked 16 times. (He does have a bit of a chink in his armor: his passer rating dipped to 91.9 - an eight-year low). It'll no doubt be one heckuva challenge for the blitz-happy Jets D, with a something more than a cursory nod to Calvin Pace and Jason Taylor, who will helm the pass rush.
Playing Manning is nothing less than a chess game, Jets say:
"It's like he has a photographic memory," safety Dwight Lowery said. "You have to be able to switch things up and show him different things because if you come out and show him the same thing over and over again, he's going to pick you apart."
One of the keys to the Colts victory will be opening up their rushing game and the resurgence of Dominic Rhodes. With Donald Brown, who racked up a career-high 129 rushing yards against the Jags, and Rhodes' 2006 Super Bowl buddy Joseph Addai (back from a neck injury), the Colts rushing game has indeed evolved in the past few weeks, beyond their 29th in the league 92.7 yards.
It's a heady match-up for Mark Sanchez, though Ryan and co. will swear left and right that he's more than up to the challenge and very much not the same QB that led the Jets to their 30-17 loss to the Colts in last year's AFC championship game.
"Last year, I was going to put it more in the hands of the running game," Ryan said. "Three yards and a cloud of dust, punt and we'll play defense. I think we can do more than that offensively now.''
The question now is the status of Sanchez's sore right shoulder. The Jets are saying he's 100 percent, but we won't know for sure until game time.
Other key cogs for the Jets: Drew Coleman at nickleback, who'll cover the slot receiver. Some fun stats: Coleman has four sacks and three quarterback hits on blitzes, intercepted one pass, had five passes defensed and forced five fumbles. Darrelle Revis against Reggie Wayne: Revis has pretty much had Wayne's number in previous matchups (three catches for 55 yards in the AFC game) and, with Collie and Clarke down for the count, this matchup will be key.
And finally, staff predictions. Choose your own adventure!