The general consensus this morning, after the Jets' self-immolating, disastrous 17-13 loss to the Denver Broncos last night, is that the result was a shock, that Tim Tebow's ridiculous twenty-yard touchdown run with .58 seconds remaining came out of nowhere, that it's unfathomable that this could have happened. It's being chalked up to the increasingly surreal nature of Tebow's season, that sort of senseless magic that has him 4-1 as a starter despite appearing to lack even the most basic quarterbacking skills. But the Jets had several chances to win this game. Tim Tebow didn't win this game; the Jets lost it. Not that anyone will ever remember it that way.
It's worth watching the complete highlights of the game, if just for the weary, bewildered head-shake Rex Ryan gives after Tebow's touchdown run; he cannot believe, simply can't believe, that the Jets were about to lose this game. Tebow's touchdown ended a 95-yard drive, which is impressive enough, but especially when you consider that the Broncos had gone three-and-out on seven of their previous eight possessions. Tebow had completed six passes. Denver had 134 total yards, for 54 minutes. Then, in the last six, they notched 95, and the touchdown, and the win.
The last play, Tebow's touchdown, was particularly galling. After a delay because a fan ran onto the field, the Jets called for an up-the-middle blitz. Tebow picked it up and once he sneaked left past the initial rush, he was essentially home free. Considering Tebow's total inability to pass — it's sort of amazing how bad he is at it — it has to be maddening to Jets fans that Tebow found his way around the corner.
But the defense won't be blamed for this loss; that play just feels like Tebow kismet. No, this one will come down to Mark Sanchez, who once again had a dreadful game. Actually, that's not quite true; in the first half, Sanchez completed eleven consecutive passes, and his statline (24-of-40, 252 yards, 1 INT) isn't horrific. But that interception was just a brutal one, a terrible pass by Sanchez late in the third quarter that was intercepted by Denver's Andre Goodman and taken for a 26-yard touchdown. It was as bad a pass as you will see an NFL quarterback make, much worse than any wounded duck Tebow tossed up there. It is exactly the type of pass you cannot make in a game like this one, when your defense is dominating and you simply need to hold onto the ball. The Jets are a team that requires a quarterback who doesn't make the huge mistakes like that one. It is beginning to look more and more like Sanchez might not be that quarterback.
The Jets don't have time for that now, though. They're 5-5, with a divisional game with Buffalo a week from Sunday. The Jets have an easier schedule down the stretch — if just because they've already lost to the Patriots twice — and they will need to take advantage of it. They probably need to go 5-1, at least, to make the playoffs. This does not look like a team that is going 5-1 right now. This looks like a team that is in danger of falling apart. "We have to take a long hard look at ourselves," Ryan said after the game. Someone has to, because right now, when it comes to the Jets, it's difficult not to look away.