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Jets and Colts trade last minute field goals; Jets come out on top!

Per Chicago Breaking Sports:

When Adam Vinatieri hit a 50-yard field goal to give the Indianapolis Colts a final-minute, 16-14 lead in Saturday’s AFC Wild Card game, the Lucas Oil Stadium crowd figured the game was decided.

Not so fast.

Jets kick returner’s Antonio Cromartie’s 47-yard kickoff return coupled with an 18-yard catch by Braylon Edwards from Mark Sanchez set up Nick Folk’s game-winning 32-yard field goal in the Jets 17-16 triumph.

Jets coach Rex Ryan called this game personal, based on his previous history against Peyton Manning. Well, Ryan got the best of him this time.
Manning moved the Colts offense just enough to set up Vinateri’s 50-yarder, but it wasn’t enough. The Colts simply didn’t have enough offense, and the defense could come up with the big stops when needed.

A few members of that defense futilely tried waving their hands to encourage crowd noise for a fourth-quarter goal-line stand, but those worn out players could barely lift their arms above their heads.

A 17-play, 87-yard drive by the Jets seemed to suck the wind out of all 11 Colts defenders at the most crucial. And Jets running back LaDainian Tomlinson’s 1-yard touchdown run at the end of that 9 minutes, 54 second drive, giving the Jets a 14-10 lead, seemed to suck the life out of the home team.

When Folk’s game-winner sailed through the upright, the stadium was stunned silent.

It took a little while for him to get started, but Manning eventually found a hole in the Jets’ stingy defense. He discovered it midway through the second quarter, when receiver Pierre Garcon got behind Cromartie and safety Brodney Pool. Manning fired a perfect strike and hit Garcon in stride for a 57-yard touchdown and 7-0 lead. Cromartie reacted late and Pool was nowhere near in position to make play.

The Jets had a perfect opportunity to tie the score before halftime, but Mark Sanchez blew it. The second-year quarterback showed his inexperience when he was picked off in the end zone by Colts cornerback Justin Tryron. Sanchez had plenty of time to throw and scan the field while up against a three-man rush, but he forced the ball clear across the other side of the field on a ball intended for tight end Dustin Keller.

Sanchez overthrew Keller on consecutive plays right before the interception. He targeted his tight end six times in the half and failed to complete one of those passes.

Manning and the high-powered offense got off to an unusually slow start. The Colts went three-and-out on each of their first three possessions despite have third-and-1 plays on all three drives. On two of those plays, Manning attempted passes. Once was a completion to Blair White for no gain, and the other was a pass intended to White that fell incomplete.

The game nearly began with a boneheaded play by former Super Bowl hero Santonio Holmes. After the Colts went three-and-out on their first series, Holmes dropped back to field the punt. As the ball bounced near him with the Colts’ coverage team closing in, the Jets return man reached down and came so close to touching it. Colts players thought the ball scraped Holmes’ fingertips before they fell on the loose ball, but head coach Jim Caldwell lost a replay challenge as the ball clearly skipped through Holmes’ legs without touching him.

Another aspect of special teams put the Jets in a hole. Star kick returner Brad Smith injured his quad early in the game and didn’t return a single kick in the first half. Cromartie took over the return duties and had a 41-yard kickoff return to start the second half. It set up Tomlinson’s first 1-yard score in the third quarter.

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