Jets’ playoff chances take a stinging hit
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The Atlanta Falcons already had their playoff hopes dashed and were getting manhandled by the New York Jets’ top-ranked defense.
No contest, right? Not quite.
Tony Gonzalez caught a 6-yard touchdown pass from Matt Ryan on a fourth-down play with 1:38 remaining to lift the Falcons to a 10-7 victory that seriously damaged the Jets’ postseason chances yesterday.
A day after the Falcons (7-7) were eliminated from playoff contention by Dallas’s win over New Orleans, they were able to play spoiler against the stunned Jets (7-7).
Ryan, starting after missing two games with a toe injury, couldn’t do much against the Jets’ defense for most of the game - but New York’s offense also sputtered at the cold and windy Meadowlands and failed to put it away. Mark Sanchez threw three interceptions, and Jay Feely missed a field goal, had another blocked, and Kellen Clemens mishandled a snap on another attempt.
“It’s tough to swallow,’’ Sanchez said. “It’s never good to play that poorly. We played well in spurts and then we’d turn the ball over.’’
Things seemed to be falling into place for Rex Ryan’s Jets, who had their three-game win streak snapped. Two teams New York is chasing in the AFC race - Jacksonville and Miami - lost, and a victory would have put the Jets in great shape going into their game at undefeated Indianapolis next Sunday.
With the Falcons facing third and 9 from their 42, Roddy White had a 16-yard catch and Atlanta moved up 15 more yards on a facemask penalty on Donald Strickland. Jason Snelling followed with a 20-yard run up the middle to the 7, and four plays later Ryan found Gonzalez in the front of the end zone.
The Jets had one final shot, but Sanchez was picked off by Brent Grimes to seal it.