Tag Archives: Thomas Jones

Pinch me, the Jets are 60 minutes from the Super Bowl. And some Golden Globes thoughts

I have resided in sports nirvana just once before. It was on June 14, 1994, when something I never thought would happen in my lifetime occurred: The New York Rangers won the Stanley Cup.

I never thought a moment in sports could ever make me that happy again.

Dear readers,  the professional football team I root for is 60 minutes away from giving me that feeling again.

Unbelievably, improbably, ridiculously, the New York freaking Jets, a team that couldn’t beat the Ryan Fitzpatrick-led Buffalo Bills earlier this season, won their second straight playoff game on the road Sunday.

They beat the San Diego Chargers, a team many thought had too much offense, too many weapons, and too strong a pass rush.

But by God, the Jets did it the way they’ve done it the last seven weeks: Pound the ball with the running game, play excellent defense, hang around, hang hang around, make a few passing plays with our rookie QB Mark Sanchez, and then put the game away in the fourth quarter.

I mean, this game unfolded exactly as the Jets hoped it would. They didn’t do much early, but they kept the game reasonable (7-0 at halftime).

They got some tremendous breaks, yes, as Nate Kaeding, who just never misses against other teams, melted down and missed 3 field goals (although 1 was from 57 yards, which wasn’t his fault), but were 40 yards or less.

But the Jets earned this win every which way, and I cannot tell you how excited I am that they’ve got a shot next Sunday in Indianapolis, to go the Super Bowl.

God, just saying it gives me goosebumps.

Some ruminations from today’s 17-14 win:

— Rex Ryan, God bless you, you’re the Jets coach I’ve been waiting my whole life for. Not just because you’re smart and funny and know what you’re doing, but because today, and always, you don’t play not to lose, you play to win. Fourth and 1, at the Chargers 28, up 17-14, little over a minute to go.

EVERY other Jets coach in my lifetime either kicks the field goal there, which makes it 20-14, but gives San Diego the ball back with a (slight) chance to win, or even worse, punts it, to try to pin the Chargers deep.

But Rex said, nope, I trust my line, I trust my running back (Thomas Jones), and dammit, we’re not giving them the ball back. And the Jets got the first down,( with me on my knees, on the floor of Houligan’s, with my hands clasped). Game over. Fantastic. A coach with balls.

–What a tremendous game by the Jets defense. They got just enough pressure on Philip Rivers to rattle him a little, and the Chargers’ run game was totally shut down, and Vincent Jackson and Antonio Gates were held pretty well in check (though Gates did make a sick catch in the first half). You hold the Chargers to 7 points through 3 1/2 quarters, that’s damn impressive.

— Sad to see LaDainian Tomlinson a shell of his former self. Man, did he get old.

— Lot of people criticized the Jets for trading up to get Shonn Greene in the draft last April. Not hearing those people now. How about the strength of this kid, to run through tackles on his way to the end zone in the fourth quarter?

— Darrelle Revis, that interception in the fourth quarter was spectacular. Just spectacular. And Mike DeVito, the nose tackle no one talks about, had a fantastic game pressuring Rivers.

— Can’t say enough about the Jets’ offensive line. Nick Mangold, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Damien Woody, Brandon Moore, and Alan Faneca did such a great job run-blocking, and protecting Sanchez today.– Rich Cimini of the Daily News said this was the Jets’ biggest upset win since Super Bowl III. Hard to argue.

—Man the Chargers totally lost their poise Sunday. Stupid penalties after the whistle, Vincent Jackson kicking the challenge flag and taking a 15-yarder? Just stupid.

— I’m sure Norv Turner will get criticized for the onside kick attempt with just more than two minutes left, but I thought it was the right call. Ah, Norv. So good to see you on the other sideline.

–Finally, there’s this: Everything is going right for the Jets the last four weeks. Everything. Why won’t it continue? Especially with the Super Bowl just 240 miles from my home?

This week, I’m going to honestly think about how much I’d be willing to spend on Super Bowl tickets. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be doing that this year.

What a country, America.

**OK, some quick thoughts on the Golden Globes, since this post is running way too long:

— Thought most of the big awards went to the right people; was thrilled to see Toni Collette rewarded for the underappreciated “United States of Tara” on Showtime (seriously, check it out on DVD if you can, it’s a great show), and equally thrilled that “Glee” won for best musical or comedy (though “Modern Family” getting a win would’ve thrilled me, too.)

— Christina Hendricks of “Mad Men,” wow, that was quite a dress.

–Robert Downey Jr.’s speech was very funny.

— Did James Cameron look like a guy who had just signed the Declaration of Independence, or what? Seriously, he was channeling John Adams or something.

— Sorry to see Jane Lynch from “Glee” not win, though Chloe Sevigny is awesome in “Big Love.” So glad to see good TV getting rewarded.

The New York Jets can win today. Seriously. But they won’t. And that Manning kid is pretty good

It’s extremely rare I get to watch the Jets in the AFC Divisional playoffs, but today will be the third time in the last eight years.

Which for this woeful franchise, qualifies the past decade as almost a dynasty.

In 2002 the Jets went to Oakland, had a tremendous roll going with a young quarterback named Chad Pennington, and got their doors blown off by Rich Gannon (Delaware Blue Hen!) and his friends.

Three years later came one of the most agonizing losses of my Jets lifetime. Doug Brien misses two late field goals, including one that would’ve won the game, and the Jets lose to Pittsburgh on the road, 20-17.

Today could be the day. All week I’ve been reading and hearing that my beloved Gang Green have a chance.

Here are the ways it can happen:

— The Chargers can’t run the ball, so the Jets No.1-ranked defense stuffs the rushing game, then harass QB Phillip Rivers into some interceptions and sack him a bunch.

— Darrelle Revis, the Jets’ awesome cornerback, shuts down Vincent Jackson of the Bolts.

— Mark Sanchez makes a few big plays, and the Jets running game, led by Thomas Jones and Shonn Greene, gashes a bad San Diego run defense.

— Chargers coach Norv Turner, last seen advising Napoleon that Waterloo “would be a piece of cake, no problem” could do something monumentally stupid and cause his team to lose. It’s not like it hasn’t happened before.

Look, this can happen. I’m not deluding myself, nor were the other writers, pundits and friends who I talked to or read this week. It’s entirely possible I’m going to be going out of my mind with joy around 8 p.m. tonight, as the Jets would be one game away from the Super Bowl (and believe me, if the Jets get to the Super Bowl, I will be there. I don’t care how much it costs.)

But I just don’t think it will. San Diego is really, really good. Rivers is a sensational quarterback on a wonderful, and the Chargers have too many weapons on offense.

I think my boys will keep it close, and it’ll be something like 20-13 going into the fourth quarter, and I’ll be walking around Houligan’s bar telling everyone the Jets are in it, they’ve got a shot, and talking myself into it, too.

But I just don’t think my boy Sanchez is ready to win this one yet.

And by the way, if you’re a Jets fan and that video above didn’t get you fired up, you might not be alive.

Final prediction: Chargers 23, Jets 16. And a hell of an entertaining season for my Jets.

***Couple thoughts on the two NFL games Saturday:

–Arizona gave up 90 points in two playoff games this year. NINETY! Hard to do.

— Another sign of Peyton Manning’s greatness: Twice Saturday when he was about to get hammered, he went down himself and saved himself the punishment. As Joe Theismann once said, you don’t have to be a genius like “Norman Einstein” to play this game.

But it helps.

Pumped up for the Jets game, and great stories of those we lost in ’09

Yeah, I’m psyched for today at 4:30 p.m. Really psyched.

Look, I don’t get to see the Jets in the NFL playoffs all that much, OK? These are not the Dallas Cowboys or New England Patriots or Indianapolis Colts. The Jets just don’t make it to the postseason that often.

I just looked it up; in my lifetime as a Jets fan (I first started really being old enough to follow the team when I was 7, in 1982) I’ve only gotten to see them in 15 playoff games. In 27 years! And three of those games were when I was 7, so it’s not like I really remember too much. I know, if you’re a Lions fan or a Browns fan you can’t really have sympathy, but for the rest of America, you get my pain.

What I’m saying is, Jets playoff games are rare enough that I can probably instantly give you details, positive and negative, of the last 12 I’ve seen. The good: The 41-0 pasting of the Colts in the 2002 season. The tremendous overtime victory over San Diego in 2005. And of course, the divisional playoff win over Jacksonville in the 1998 season, followed by a 10-0 lead at Denver in the AFC title game, where, with 2 minutes left in the half, I for the first time really believed they were going to the Super Bowl (Silly, silly me.)

The bad? Oh, the bad comes back to my mind so much easier. Mark Gastineau’s idiotic roughing the passer penalty in the ’86 playoffs, leading to a double-overtime loss to the Browns, 23-20. The excruciating loss to Pittsburgh in the 2004 playoffs, when Doug Brien (DOUG BRIEN!!!) missed two field goals that could’ve won the game. And of course, the second half of that loss to Denver in ’98, when it all slipped away under an avalanche of Jets turnovers.

Today’s game? I’m feeling very, very confident. I don’t think Carson Palmer and the Bengals will be able to throw the ball much on the Jets, and Cedric Benson doesn’t scare me.

(By the way, my friend George, a big Bears fan, cringed when I told him today’s game would be a matchup of two backs the Bears let go: Benson and the Jets’ Thomas Jones. “But Benson sucked as Bear!” he quickly reminded me. That’s true, he did suck).

Offensively for the Jets, I’m thinking Mark Sanchez throws 15-20 times; any more and we’ve got problems. A steady does of the running game with Jones and Shonn Greene, milk the clock, take the fired-up Bengals crowd out of the game, and escape with a win.

Jets 20, Bengals 13. A happy Saturday night in the Lewis home.

**This may sound a little morbid, but my absolute favorite issue of the New York Times Magazine is the final one of the year, called “The Lives They Lived” when they look back on about 20 people who died in the past 12 months. (It came out two weeks ago, but I just finished it Friday).

What’s fabulous about it is that they don’t pick just famous people, though this year they did pay tribute to some reasonably notable ones (Ted Kennedy, boxer Arturo Gatti, director Budd Schulberg). What I love is learning about some of the lives who were historically significant, but under the radar.

It’s a wonderful thing to discover people like Crystal Lee Sutton, who courageously helped organize unions in cotton mills in North Carolina in the early 1970s (she was the basis for the title character in the movie “Norma Rae”); Ellie Greenwich, a Jewish woman from Long Island who wrote a ton of hits for girl groups like The Chiffons and The Shangri-La in the ’60s; and Maurizio Montalbini, who decided to push the limits of human endurance by voluntarily living in a cave for hundreds of days at a time.

It just reminds you of the incredibly creative, entertaining and diverse world we live in. Check the issue out if you have a chance.

Jets beat the hell out of the Raiders, a “Little House” spoof, and the Yanks go back to the Series

Jets Raiders Football

For a while in the early part of this decade, it seemed like the Oakland Raiders ripped my heart out every year.

They beat the Jets big, they beat them small. They beat them in the regular season, they beat them in the playoffs. OK, no more Dr. Seuss-like pronouncements. But basically, the Raiders owned the Jets.

That’s why Sunday was so sweet for me, and for, I’m sure, all the Jets fans out there. Sunday, against one of the worst NFL teams I have ever seen, Gang Green beat the ever-loving stuffing out of the Raiders, 38-0.

Except for one horrible injury to Leon Washington, who suffered a broken fibula and about whom a teammate said “I could see blood spurting out. I’ve never seen anything like that before” (lovely), it was a sensational day for the Jets.

They finally did what they should’ve done last week: run, run, and run some more, and throw the ball only when absolutely necessary.

Thomas Jones looked terrific, as did rookie Shonn Greene (though, unlike the Mets’ Shawn Green, I don’t think is Jewish), who replaced Leon Washington.

Mark Sanchez did just enough, though I have no freakin’ idea why he was still in the game to take a couple of hellacious hits late in the fourth quarter. Sanchez was poised, confident, and made the throws he needed to make. And really, that’s all we should ask of the kid. These Jets fans who are ready to throw him out after a few bad games are morons. The kid has now started 23 games since high school.

The Jets defense was outstanding (welcome to the season, Calvin Pace, you of your two strip sacks), and JaMarcus Russell, God bless you for being so awful. He basically gave the Jets their first two touchdowns. I was legitimately sad when the Raiders pulled him.

Losing Leon is a huge blow; his dangerous kickoff returns alone make him a big asset. But with this win, the Jets stay a game back of New England, and have a chance at some Dolphins revenge next week.

Man, this Jets team is hard to figure after 7 weeks: Three straight wins, then three straight losses, now a resounding win. Ask me around Thanksgiving and I’ll be able to tell you if they’re any good or not.

Some other quick-hit thoughts on this NFL Sunday:

**Good God the Saints are explosive. Down 24-3, they scored 43 points in the last two quarters and the last minute of the first half. Forty-three! Couldn’t happen at a better time, against the hated Dolphins. Thanks, Drew Brees. If the 4-3 Jets can beat 2-4 Miami next week at the Meadowlands, that could just bury the ‘Fins’ playoff hopes. Lovely.

**Ah, that’s the Brett Favre I remember from last season. A fumble in the fourth quarter in the red zone against Pittsburgh, returned for a touchdown, then an INT that wasn’t his fault a few minutes later.

**So someone please tell me how JaMarcus Russell is still a starting quarterback in the NFL. If he’s an NFL quarterback, I’m Manute Bol.

**Go ahead, you figure out the Cincinnati Bengals.

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**As for the New York Yankees, I of course am thrilled to see them finish off those poor-fielding Angeles of Los Angeles, 5-2 Sunday night. It seems like it’s been a lot longer than six years since the Bronx Bombers have been in the Series, but that’s probably just something obnoxious Yankee fans like me think sometimes.

Couple thoughts:

1. This will be a longer post this week, but the Yankee fans’ adoration of Alex Rodriguez is something I never thought I’d see. Much like with Bill Clinton, I’ve always been so conflicted about him, myself.

2. It amazes me what pressure can do to human beings. The Angels were a fantastic defensive team in the regular season. But in the pressure cooker of October, they melted like an egg on a sidewalk in Florida in July.

3. Also, memo to FOX baseball directors: We really don’t need to see a fan reaction shot to EVERY out. And why do we care if Giuliani’s at the game anymore? He hasn’t been the mayor since 2001.

**Finally, I was watching a Rangers game Saturday night through the NHL’s free preview of its Center Ice Package, and the telecast was a “Hockey Night in Canada” production. Always a good time. Anyway, I heard a promo for something that I couldn’t believe was real, but apparently it is.

There’s a Canadian sitcom called “Little Mosque on the Prairie.” Seriously. According to the show’s web site, it’s an internationally-acclaimed comedy about Muslims and Christians attempting to live in harmony in the small town of Mercy, Saskatchewan.

This brings to mind all kinds of jokes in my head (would Laura Ingalls Wilder ever go to Mecca?), but I’m sure many of them would be offensive.

Anyway, here’s a clip of the show, from the first episode: I found it interesting.

A crushing, crushing Jets loss. And a so-so Michael Moore movie reviewed

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Most of this time, I try to entertain or make you think on this blog.

Today, though, today is not for that. Today is for me and the rest of Jets nation to wallow in the feeling of being crushed, and having our guts ripped out.

Fortunately for us, it’s a feeling we’ve come to know quite well. Doesn’t make it any easier to cope with, but we’re used to it.

Consider this my therapy. If it helps you, great. If not, well, I’ll feel better in a few hundred words (I think.)

A loss to the Miami Dolphins is one thing. A loss to the Dolphins on national TV is another. But a loss to the damn Dolphins with six seconds left? After the Jets supposedly “strong” defense allows Miami to march down the field and then score the winning touchdown when Ronnie Brown, who I swear ran for 150 yards Monday (actually only 74), busts in from the 2? Just brutal.

It was a hell of an exciting game, sure. It reminded me of so many classic Jets-Dolphins games from my youth.

And before I start pointing out the bad, I have to point out a few positives: 1, Mark Sanchez throws a hell of a deep ball. It wasn’t a great game for the rookie QB, but he tantalizes us sometimes by showing how good he can be. Those overthrows in the first half and missed reads? All is forgiven after the gorgeous deep ball to David Clowney (welcome to the team, sir) and the perfectly thrown pass to Braylon Edwards.

Man, Sanchez is going to be great once he figures out what he’s doing.

2. Braylon. Wow. I’d call that a pretty good debut! One touchdown, should’ve had another (that was a terrible overrule on his second TD; yes his knee was down but he hadn’t been touched yet!), and he drew a pass interference penalty that set up the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth. I am utterly excited to see what Edwards and Sanchez can cook up after a few weeks of practice. He’s already the best Jets receiver since Keyshawn Johnson.

3. The running game looked a lot better. Still not great, but they got the tough yards when they needed to; Thomas Jones had a little burst, and Leon (who didn’t get the ball enough, again; 11 touches???) Washington looked good, too.

OK, now for the bad. The defense. Just awful. I don’t know which was worse, the run defense of the pass defense. Chad Henne, a quarterback making his second career start, threw 20 of 26 for 241 yards. That’s unacceptable. I understand Lito Sheppard is hurt, but come on. Darrelle Revis and the safeties got burned like fingers trying to take a plate out of the oven without mitts on (OK, that didn’t really work, but go with me here) by Ted Ginn of all people. Ted Ginn, who couldn’t catch a cold the last few weeks.

The pass rush? I didn’t see it. Tackling? Nowhere near as good as it has been; Calvin Pace, in his first game back, whiffed quite a few times on Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams.

And still, as bad as the defense was, they just needed one or two stops on the final drive. To me, the game was as good as over on that 3rd and 10 when Henne hit, I think Camarillo on the pass wide by the sideline for a first down. ONE STOP is all the Jets needed, and couldn’t get it.

I’m not going overboard, though, like many on the Jets message boards I just checked out. Some of those people on there are insane, bashing Rex Ryan and wanting to get rid of everyone and all that idiocy.

Would I have taken a 3-2 record after five games, back on Sept. 1? Of course. But that’s the problem with raised expectations. Once you go 3-0, you’re not supposed to be 3-2.

The Jets will get the defense fixed. I’m confident of that. I’m confident they can beat the two JV teams on the schedule next, Buffalo and Oakland.

But tonight, as I type this in what Frank Sinatra called “the wee small hours of the morning,” I’m just feeling empty, with a bit of bile and one request:

I don’t want to hear the word “Wildcat” for at least a week.

Capitalismpic

*** So I went to see the Michael Moore movie “Capitalism: A Love Story” on Sunday. (By the way, the geniuses at my local cineplex spelled the first word of the title “Capitolism” on the marquee. The epidemic of bad spelling in this country is really staggering).

My verdict? Pretty good, not great. It has most of the Moore-movie hallmarks: Outrage at big shots, some new revelations of unethical business practices (life insurance policies on employees was an eye-opener for me), and some funny bits.

I guess I expected more, though. Problem is, Moore is too famous to ambush anyone anymore; nobody who would make a good “gotcha” subject is willing to talk to him. I also thought the movie dragged a little in the middle, and was a little too “all over the place” at times. We pinballed from topic to topic quite a bit.

Still, it was worth my seven bucks. I just feel like Moore is now acting like the person we all expect him to be, and he’s losing a little genuineness in the process.

Three and oh, my New York Jets keep flying. And a great old Jewish joke at the end

jetsweek3

Well, this is getting a little ridiculous, isn’t it?

It’s getting increasingly difficult for me to strike my usually pessimistic, gloomy view of my New York Jets.

Yet another Sunday afternoon, and yet another day I leave Houligan’s (sports bar where I watch the games) happy. After a great start, a very shaky 2nd and 3rd quarters, and a terrific 4th, Gang Green beat Tennessee, 24-17.

It was quite different from the first two games, but at the end all I care about is the W. Three and oh. Never, in a hundred years, would I have predicted the Jets would be 3-0 after this brutal early schedule they had.

But hell, maybe after 40 years everything is starting to go right again. Heck, the Jets got two gift touchdowns from the Titans’ returner (or should I say ex-returner) Ryan Mouton, Mark Sanchez didn’t panic under pressure, and they’ve got a quarterback crazy enough to take on defenders while leading with his head. It’s great!

— Let’s start with Mark Sanchez. Love the kid’s poise in the pocket, but hey Mark, bubeleh, next time you’re going to try to run it in for a touchdown, please slide or try to go around the big dude trying to tackle you? This play scared the hell out of us fans (fast forward to about the :32 mark). Still, really bad attempt at a mustache aside, the kid is making all the right moves. Sure he had some mistakes Sunday; the ball slipped out of his hand a few times, and he threw an INT that wasn’t his fault. But he’s making progress every week.

— Big game for David Harris and Bart Scott, the Jets new linebacker combo. They harassed Kerry Collins in the fourth quarter. The D looked shaky for quite a while in the second and third quarters, but you know what? When it mattered most and they HAD to get stops, they did. I love that Rex Ryan throws so many different looks at opposing offenses; three straight weeks now, in the fourth quarter, the opposing QB looked rattled.

–I’m officially concerned about the Jets running game. It’s been three games now, and the O-line hasn’t been opening too many holes. Thomas Jones had two good runs in Week 1 and that’s been it, and Leon Washington hasn’t done much, either.

— Jerricho Cotchery, you rule. Couple of fantastic catches Sunday. Overall, the offense was subpar, but they took advantage of the chances the Titans gave them.

— Tennessee’s receivers totally let Kerry Collins down most of the day. Justin McCareins, where have you gone? Oh wait, he stunk, too.

— Next week is a freebie in my mind. I don’t expect the Jets to go into the Superdome and shut down Drew Brees (though Buffalo did a pretty good job on him Sunday.) Even if the Jets lose that one, they’re 3-1 with two games against Miami, one against Buffalo and one against Oakland the next four weeks. Sounds good to me.

OK, enough giddiness. These are my Jets I’m talking about here. They’ll break my heart again at some point this season. But for now, man this is fun!

Other NFL thoughts:

— Congrats to the Detroit Lions and their fans, as the Leos finally broke a 19-game losing streak with a win over the Redskins. If I’m Washington head coach Jim Zorn, I’m not answering the phone for a few days. It’ll probably be crazy owner Dan Snyder looking to fire him. Great column on the Lions here by the great Mitch Albom.

–HUGE comeback win for the Cincinnati Bengals, HBO’s favorite team. Down 20-9 at home to the Steelers in the fouth, Cincy comes back and wins with a Carson Palmer touchdown in the final minute. Psychologically, Pittsburgh has owned the Bengals, so this one is huge. Who’d have figured Pittsburgh would be 1-2 after three weeks, with two crushing last-minute losses? Check out Cincy Enquirer columnist Paul Daugherty (who I always read after Bengals games because even when they’re terrible, he’s wildly entertaining) with a good column here.

— We have two legit opportunities for a team to go 0-16 this year. I don’t have a clue who the Cleveland Browns will be able to beat; they look horrendous. And the St. Louis Rams, well, they’re not much better, especially if Marc Bulger is out for a while.

— Apparently some guy playing QB for the Vikings had a last-second touchdown to win the game. Sorry, I’m still in a Brett Favre blackout. Can’t discuss it.

— The Miami Dolphins’ receivers stink. All of ’em. Man did they drop a lot of passes Sunday in their loss to San Diego. Ted Ginn, especially, can’t seem to catch a cold. Poor Chad Pennington got hurt again, too; I love Chad but he gets hurt practically every year.

— Miami is 0-3, my Jets are 3-0. That’s just beautiful.

**Finally today, for those of you, like me, going without food for Yom Kippur, here’s a great joke from a very cool website called, Old Jews Telling Jokes. It is, well, exactly what it says is: A web site where old jews stand up and tell jokes.

This one is unsafe for work at the end, so maybe turn your volume down if that’s where you’re hearing it:

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Mark Sanchez makes me happy, and maybe the best Federer shot ever

Jets Sanchez Football 

You know, I’m trying to stay level-headed today. I keep telling myself, “It’s only one game, it’s only one game.” Lots of quarterbacks have had one great game. Hell, a journeyman named Scott Mitchell once had three great games, got a huge contract, then stunk up the field for the next two years.

But man, Sunday afternoon my New York Jets’ latest “savior” quarterback had a hell of a debut. A smashing, bang-up debut, one that had all the critics (well, me and every other Jets fan who are conditioned to be critical after 40 years of mostly losing) shaking our heads in wonder.

Mark Sanchez played like a 10-year veteran in leading my beloved Green and White to a stunningly convincing 24-7 win over the Houston Texans, heretofore thought to be a pretty good team. Sanchez stepped up in the pocket to avoid the rush. He made smart, accurate throws. He scrambled when he had to. He held on to the ball when his receivers were covered and he didn’t try to be Superman, forcing a ball into triple-coverage.

In short (which, incidentally, is what I am), he was awesome. The Jets’ offensive line was awesome, giving Sanchez all kinds of time. Leon Washington, who you will soon learn is my favorite Jet, was terrific, too.  Thomas Jones, who did nothing in the first half, had two huge runs in the second half to help salt the game away.

And man, what a start for the Jets defense. They were flying all over the place. New coach Rex Ryan came in with a lot of expectations on him, to make the defense great and blitz and force turnovers and all that stuff he did with the Baltimore Ravens.

Well, so far, so great. The Jets forced two turnovers, harassed Houston QB Matt Schaub into all kinds of hurried throws and sacked him twice, and tackled as well as the Jets have tackled in years. Darrelle Revis, the star DB, completely shut down Texans wideout Andre Johnson.

Very, very satisfying opening win, right up there as openers go with the win at Tennessee a few years back, and the mauling of Seattle in Bill Parcells’ first game in 1997.

The bullies from New England come into the Meadowlands next week. I’m certain Sanchez will make a few mistakes in that one, since Bill Belichick is known for confusing young quarterbacks.

But I really like what I see from this kid; after his one huge mistake, an interception returned for a touchdown, he didn’t get nervous or suddenly make tentative throws; he fired a laser to Dustin Keller on 3rd down on the next drive for a huge first down. The kid seems to have moxie and swagger (Moxie and Swagger, weren’t those two of the dudes in Billy the Kid’s gang?), and you have to love what he showed Sunday.

Couple other quick thoughts on Sunday’s NFL games:

— Poor Bengals. They’re down 6-0 to Denver, finally score with 35 seconds to go to take the lead 7-6, and it looks like they’re going to win. Then Denver hits a miracle play, off a deflection that just happens to land in Brandon Stokely of the Broncos’ hands, and he goes all the way for the winning touchdown.

All I can say is, Bengals fans, I’ve been there.

— Boy am I glad I drafted Drew Brees with my first pick in both fantasy leagues I’m in. Six touchdowns? Yeah, I’ll take that every week.

— Don’t overreact to Week 1, but the Panthers and Browns appear to stink, the Chiefs and Lions may not stink as much as we thought, while Philly and Indy are going to be pretty damn good again.

Finally, check out my penultimate U.S. Open tennis blog here, and watch this amazing shot (below) by Roger Federer in his semifinal win. This was maybe one of the two or three best shots I’ve ever seen Roger ever hit; my jaw hit the floor. Federer later called it the best shot he’s ever hit, and you can tell by his reaction how excited he was.

P.S. As usual, my favorite sports writer Joe Posnanski has written an entire, beautiful column about this Federer shot; check it out here. In it, he makes a fantastic point that I completely agree with: The more you know about tennis, the more you appreciate how amazing Federer is.

The Growing Pains of Mark Sanchez, and Holder disappoints

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Here’s just one tiny slice of what it’s like as a New York Jets fan:

This year’s Quarterback of the Future, a.k.a. the next Joe Namath, threw an interception return for a touchdown on his first pass. And frankly, I wasn’t even remotely surprised.

On his next throw, Mark Sanchez hit Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis right in the chest. Lewis dropped it.

About what I expected.

Earlier tonight, while I watched the Jets’ new hope show he’s, um, a rookie, I tried to remember all the young quarterbacks I’ve been excited about as a Jets fan for the last 29 years (I don’t count my first 5 years of life; no football memories back there).

There was Ken O’Brien, who, while very accurate, got sacked more often than Scott Bakula at the beginning of “Necessary Roughness,” (an underrated movie, in my opinion. I tried to link to a clip from the film here but not one single clip was on YouTube. A disgrace, people of this world, an outright disgrace! Anyway…)

There was the legendary Browning Nagle, who was going to be so awesome after a great 1991 preseason (then they went 4-12). Who could forget the magnificent Glenn Foley era, or the one that followed a few years later, the Glory that was Ray Lucas?

You get the point. All those guys after O’Brien stunk more than four-day-old garbage. And each time, like Charlie Brown running at Lucy, I get my hopes up.

So, I’m trying to be cautiously optimistic about this new kid, Sanchez. He’s saying all the right things, he’s respectful, seems to have a great attitude … but they all do at the beginning.

I thought after his first two atrocious throws, it would get better for No. 6. But then he botched a handoff exchange, totally mis-timed a pass to Jerricho Cotchery, and looked poor for most of the first half.

But God bless our new coach, Rex Ryan, who was going to leave Sanchez in there until something good happened. And it did; thanks to Leon Washington’s brilliance (a guy who I’ve been crowing about since he was a rookie, and yet they never give him the ball enough) and a great throw, Sanchez tossed a TD pass late in the half.

The kid ended up 3-for-8 with one pick; fortunately for him, Kellen Clemens stinks. I’m officially off the Clemens bandwagon; I’ve had more excuses for this guy than a kid with a late school project, but he’s just not that good. He’s making rookie mistakes in his FOURTH year.

So I guess Sanchez should be the starter; I mean, the Ravens are one of the best defenses in football, so it’s not that embarrassing that the kid stunk. I initially hoped Clemens would win the job and give Sanchez a chance to sit and watch for a while, but Kellen has shown me bubkes (it’s Yiddish, look it up. This blog is going multi-lingual!)

Other quick Jets-related thoughts after I just watched three quarters of preseason football (you could say I’m a little obsessed):

— I feel very good about Gang Green’s running game. Leon was terrific tonight, and Thomas Jones had some nice burst up the middle. Having Alan Faneca and Nick Mangold back was very nice to see.

— I’m loving what Rex Ryan is doing with the defense; these guys blitz and bring pressure from everywhere. I thought the first team D did a real good job, with the exception of the secondary, where Dwight Lowery continued to show why he belongs as a backup.

— Very worried about the receivers; I’m just not seeing any separation or play-making ability from anyone. I really don’t want them to bring in ultimate head case Brandon Marshall, but they need somebody who can make a play.

I think deep in his heart Ryan wants Sanchez to be the starting QB, but I think he should wait until after the Giants game this Saturday to decide. Neither guy earned the job tonight.

OK, repeating to myself: It’s only preseason, it’s only preseason (though I have to say I’m enjoying the new “MNF” booth; Jon Gruden is bringing something to the table, and he and Jaworski seem to have good chemistry).

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Eric Holder, I had high hopes for you.

Finally, finally, you decide to appoint a prosecutor to look into all the torture of the alleged terrorists the Bush/Cheney gang rounded up. Finally, you had decided to you simply couldn’t look the other way, and that justice needed to be done as the previous administration picked up the Constitution and spit on it.

And yet, there are conditions. Always with my wimpy Democrats, there are conditions and caveats. As the outstanding Salon writer Glenn Greenwald points out here, Holder is just dipping a toe in. He’s basically saying that he’s just going after the guys who did more torture than sadists like Cheney and John Yoo approved, because Cheney and Yoo made the laws at the time (Seriously, it is frightening to know how much power John Yoo had in the last administration. Frightening).

Instead of vowing to go after anyone and everyone who authorized or encouraged torture performed by lower-level CIA or FBI employees, Holder barely dipped a toe in the water.

Watch this video again, and let it sink in: The United States of America tortured people. And once again, just like at Abu Gharaib, it looks like the low-level interrogators will be the only ones to suffer the consequences.

Maybe Holder will go further. For right now, he’s taken the first step. So I’m at least a little happy about that.