For the first time in weeks, the Jets actually resembled an NFL team during Sunday’s 37-27 win over the Oakland Raiders.
Having scored just 20 points combined in the last three games, it was a welcome surprise to see the Jets move the ball down the field and show life on offense en route to scoring a season-best 37 points.
Geno Smith did throw yet an interception, and came close to throwing a couple more, but it was by far the best he has looked in quite some time. Smith’s touchdown pass in the first quarter was his first in 138 attempts and he threw for more than 200 yards for the first time since October 20.
Smith also returned to his running ways, rushing for a touchdown and a career-high 50 yards on 5 carries.
Maybe it’s a total coincidence, but the team is now 4-0 when Smith picks up more than 20 yards on the ground.
The return of Jeremy Kerley from a dislocated elbow provided Smith with an aggressive receiver -- something that he’s sorely been missing. Kerley went up and got a jump ball for the team’s first touchdown of the day, and finished with 41 yards on four receptions.
No matter who isn’t playing well or isn’t in the lineup, running back Chris Ivory continues to be the steadiest player on offense. Ivory’s overall numbers aren’t going to wow anyone, but he constantly fights for extra yardage and his effort was rewarded with just his third rushing touchdown of the year.
Special teams even chipped in with a big contribution Sunday when Antonio Allen blocked a punt in the second quarter and recovered it in the end zone for the unit’s first touchdown this season.
Despite the many positives, it was a little discouraging that the Jets couldn’t put the Raiders away with ease. Oakland entered play without any of their top three running backs and a bit of uncertainty at quarterback.
Marcel Reece, normally a fullback, got the start at running back out of necessity for the Raiders and somehow managed to break off a 63-yard touchdown run.
Though Reece’s 123 yards rushing on 19 carries looks awfully impressive on the surface, it’s a little misleading considering he averaged just 3.3 yards per carry aside from his one big run.
The Raiders started Matt McGloin at quarterback, yanked him for a brief period in the first half in favor of Terrelle Pryor, and then went back to McGloin for the rest of the game. You can’t fault the Raiders for trying to get a spark on offense, but the move seemed oddly timed and screamed of desperation.
All things considered, McGloin played pretty well. Then again, the Jets secondary does have a tendency to make opposing quarterbacks look better than they actually are.
As bad as safety Ed Reed has been of late, he did position himself nicely for his first interception as a member of the Jets.
Coach Rex Ryan subbed in Allen on more snaps than he has since Reed joined the team, and the veteran seemed to play a little better with the additional breathers.
Reed was lucky to escape the game without injury, as he and teammate Antonio Cromartie had a nasty collision that led to a 48-yard touchdown.
The team announced after the game that Cromartie had suffered a head injury, so that could be something to keep an eye on going forward.
Needless to say, the play won’t be included on the team’s 2013 highlight reel.
Probably the nicest thing that could be said about rookie cornerback Dee Milliner’s play on Sunday is his name really didn’t come up at all.
With the way Milliner has looked for much of the season, no news is good news.
While it was encouraging to see the Jets snap out of the funk that has plagued them since the bye week, it’s important not to get too excited about the win.
Yes, the Jets jumped out to their biggest first half lead since the 2012 season opener, and the 10-point win marked their largest margin of victory all year, but it came against a weak and depleted opponent.
With the win, the Jets matched their win total from last season and now find themselves one game behind the Miami Dolphins and Baltimore Ravens in the loss column for the final playoff spot in the AFC.
Next week’s trip to Carolina to take on the Panthers definitely won’t be easy, but there’s now at least some hope following Sunday’s performance.