Everyone from ESPN to E-Harmony was sure this was going to be a humiliating beat-down of the Jets by the Texans. Yet late in the fourth quarter your jaw was slowly dropping to the floor as the Jets positioned themselves for an amazing upset.
Unfortunately for them, too many mistakes and the mutant play by an unknown member of the X-men name J.J. Watt ended what would have been headline news in the NFL.
Here are five things we learned in the Texans 23-17 win over the Jets:
1. Pride is a great motivator.
Sanchez's mother probably bet against the Jets in this Monday night game. Unlike many, she could probably afford losing against the spread. That's because her son and his teammates decided, at least for one game, to play like they belonged in the pros.
The numbers aren't spectacular. New York only amassed 69 yards on the ground and 230 yards in the air. But it was enough to make the Texans and the betting public sweat on a crisp October night in New York.
Sanchez made some good passes and showed faith in his teammates he didn't even know before the season started. The overall effect produced an outcome beyond the horrible numbers they were putting up in their previous four games.
2. Special and not so special teams.
The one consistent facet of Jets football for the past decade or so has been their special teams under coach Mike Westoff. At least once a year for the past 11 years, the Jets have scored on a kick return, and they continued the trend Monday.
Late in the third quarter Joe McKnight ran back a kick for 100-yard touchdown. At this point you started to sense that the Jets were making a move for the impossible. Then in vintage Jets fashion they un-did what they just did.
On the very next kickoff, the Jets got greedy and decided to twist the knife they just stuck into Houston and went for an onside kick. Onside kicks are recovered somewhere in the 20% range by the kicking team. The Jets really took a chance and it really didn't work.
Even though they still had chances to win afterward. They gave up the momentum of the kick return and had another three points added to their deficit.
3. Defense still lacking in non-Revis areas
The Jets defense came into this game ranked 32nd against the run in our Defensive Hog Index. Letting Texans running back Arian Foster run wild for 152 yards with a 5.2 YPA did nothing to quell that issue. Foster gained over 100 yards in the first half alone. The holes were gaping and plentiful.
What was surprising was that cornerback Antonio Cromartie didn't play like crap for the whole game. It was just for parts of the game. Cromartie gave up a 34-yard touchdown to tight end Owen Daniels. He was spun completely around by a TIGHT END!
He made a good interception on a very poor pass by Matt Shaub intended for Andre Johnson. That seemed to give him some confidence because he played decent defense going forward in the game. Don't let that fool you, though: he is still a fraud as a top cornerback.
4. J.J. did Watt?!?!
Houston defensive end J.J. Watt played one of the best games a lineman could have. Watt was a thorn in the side of Mark Sanchez all evening, racking up six tackles, one sack, three passes defended and two quarterback hits.
One of the balls Watt swatted away was intercepted and run back deep in Jets territory. He ended a couple of other Jets drives and poetically ended the game with a batted Sanchez pass as time ran out.
While the Jets offensive line didn't play horribly and kept Sanchez upright for most of the game, Watt didn't need sacks.He just kept disrupting the offense at key moments from three yards away.
The Jets should try to trade for him. They should offer up Cromartie and a player of equal value, like Fireman Ed.
5. Now that the smoke has cleared . . .
. . . This moral victory could end up being an organizational defeat. The history of smoke and mirrors this team insists on promoting will be bolstered by this effort and subsequently retard the progress of fixing the real problems.
. . . The Jets insist on dangling Tim Tebow out there like a piece of fruit. They hinted at him actually getting a whole series or two this game. Instead they teased us and left us with blue footballs.
. . . With this win the Jets are even more confusing than they were this time yesterday. It's just like them to put up a great fight to a top five team, and then crawl back in the tank against the Colts next week. Damn them for making us interested again.