Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter
On "Star Wars Day" at Metlife Stadium, the force definitely wasn't strong with the Raiders.
Sam Darnold passed for over 300 yards and two scores, and also rushed for a score as the Jets swept Oakland aside impressively to put a major dent in the Raiders' postseason hopes. Beating lowly teams like Washington and the Giants is one thing, but this was the kind of win which will get people looking at this Jets team and it's short-to-medium term future in a different way.
The Jets moved the ball well at the start of the game, which is nothing new as they've been doing so throughout the month of November. However, this time, they sustained it for most of the game before being able to take their foot off the gas in a leisurely fourth quarter.
The Jets put the game away in the third quarter with three quick touchdowns after having played a disciplined first half that saw them head to the locker room up 13-3. While some will attribute this performance to the Raiders looking past the Jets, or starting to feel the effects of an admittedly onerous travel schedule, there's no question that this was New York's most impressive win of the year.
Keeping the momentum going will be the next challenge, but right now the Jets fanbase should start feeling a little better about the direction of the team heading into the final five games of the season.
Meanwhile, here are some other takeaways from the Jets' third straight victory …
- It wasn't one of Le'Veon Bell's greatest performances from a statistical standpoint, but he racked up over 100 yards on only 17 touches and averaged over four yards per carry for just the second time all season. Bell proved to be a tone-setter with his spectacular one-handed catch down the field getting the Jets going on their opening drive.
- Having been benched earlier in the season, Brandon Shell once again proved invaluable as he filled in following injuries to starting tackles Kelvin Beachum and Chuma Edoga. When Beachum returned to the game when Edoga was hurt, the offensive line unit protected Darnold as well as it has all year. Shell also contributed some powerful run blocking on the right side of the line. Edoga could barely put weight on his left ankle as he left the field, but the Jets should already have been giving consideration to Shell getting his old job back anyway.
- Off the back of two slow games, Robby Anderson stepped up, leading the Jets in receiving with 86 yards and a touchdown on four catches. These weren't routine plays either, as he came down with some tough contested catches and made some good yardage after the catch. If the Jets can find a way to unlock Anderson's potential more consistently, the offense could be potent down the stretch.
- Big wins like this often require contributions from unexpected sources and this week it was Braxton Berrios who made his mark. Having already provided a spark with a nice punt return into Oakland territory, Berrios' 69-yard catch and run to the one-yard line set up Darnold's short touchdown pass to Ryan Griffin and a 20-3 lead early in the second half. Berrios, who entered the game with just 30 receiving yards in his career, showed some good speed on the play.
- Defensively, the Jets secondary continued to hold up well as they have since Arthur Maulet and rookie Blessuan Austin have been playing full-time. Both played well again as Derek Carr completed his first five passes but then had a completion percentage of less than 50 over the rest of the game. Admittedly, there was some luck involved in that too though, as the Raiders dropped several passes in the wet conditions.
- The slot cornerback, Brian Poole, has quietly had a very solid season without making any headlines, so it was good to see him rewarded by a fortuitous bounce that he was able to grab with one hand for a pick-six. That play, set up by good coverage from Neville Hewitt, effectively iced the game.
- The Jets run defense continues to perform well, as rookie Josh Jacobs entered the game needing just 77 yards to reach the 1000-yard mark but was held to just 34 on 10 carries. This was a team effort, anchored by the Jets' impressive defensive interior.
- It's difficult not to look ahead to the two upcoming games against Miami and Cincinnati and imagine the Jets being 6-7 with three to play. However, they are still two games out of the wild card and the coaching staff will be ensuring they take things one game at a time.