Week 15 Game Recap: New York Jets 26, Minnesota Vikings 13
What you need to know
The Jets did their homework in preparing for Week 15 against Minnesota. The Vikings are the #1 defense against the run but rather porous against the pass, so New York came out firing against Minnesota. QB Chad Pennington threw early and often, targeting WR Laveranues Coles 13 times and WR Jerricho Cotchery for 10 more tries. Coles set a seasonal high with 12 catches, advancing multiple short passes to accumulate 144 yards and scoring a 21 yard touchdown in the second quarter. Cotchery converted only six targets to catches, but both receivers did well enough to help Pennington accumulate a career best 339 yards passing.
WR Justin McCareins got in on the act, catching a deep strike from Pennington for 50 yards and adding another for 20 more. Both McCareins and rookie Brad Smith served as the third and fourth Jets receiver.
Even though Minnesota is dominant against the run, New York knew that they had to keep the defense honest. RB Cedric Houston ran 21 times, picking up only 53 yards, but he did score from six yards out to finish a long first quarter drive. Houston had the only two rushing first downs for the Jets, as RB Leon Washington and RB B.J. Askew contributed very little to the cause.
PK Mike Nugent kicked four field goals, including one from 52 yards, to extend his success streak to 13 consecutive tries.
QB Tarvaris Jackson entered the game at quarterback for the final play of the third quarter to cheers from the home crowd. QB Brad Johnson was in the midst of an average performance, as he did throw a 30 yard touchdown to WR Travis Taylor on the opening drive, but he was not inspiring the Vikings to much success for the following 40 minutes. Johnson completed only eight passes for 66 yards after the opening score. Jackson came in and played the final 16 minutes under center, giving a strong indication that he may be the starter in Week 16.
Jackson targeted both WR Troy Williamson and RB Mewelde Moore often, as Moore caught five short passes for a total of 53 yards. He took his second catch 35 yards, avoiding multiple tacklers on the way to the end zone for the Vikings second touchdown. Williamson was targeted on longer passes by Jackson, converting three of eight targets from Jackson for 46 yards to go along with his 28 yards receiving from Brad Johnson.
RB Chester Taylor returned from a week off due to injury to start at tailback, but he struggled to produce. Taylor finished with just 38 yards on 11 carries and was not involved in the passing game. His replacement in Week 14, RB Artose Pinner, had one lone carry for four yards and also had zero passing targets.
WR Travis Taylor had six catches for 81 yards on seven targets, including the only touchdown throw from QB Brad Johnson. Taylor was the second most targeted Viking on the afternoon as eight different Vikings got involved in the passing game, including WR Billy McMullen and TE Jermaine Wiggins, both of whom had multiple catches.
The Vikings continued their dominant run defense, holding the Jets to just 68 rushing yards and remain the #1 ranked team against the ground game. Their weakness against the pass was also exploited by New York, as QB Chad Pennington threw for a career best 339 yards passing.
What you ought to know
Pennington threw for a career high 339 yards as he methodically marched the Jets down the field. Throwing early and often, he targeted his mainstays in WRs Jerricho Cotchery (10 targets) and Laveranues Coles (13 targets) on short routes for 10 yards or fewer to advance New York down the field. Every so often Pennington would look deep, and he did connect with WR Justin McCareins for 50 yards in the first quarter, but that was the only play longer than 21 yards through the air. Pennington was satisfied to work the passing game via the open man and pick up what the Vikings gave the Jets. As a result, 17 of their 21 first downs came via the pass in Week 15.
Houston was the workhorse back in Week 15, carrying the ball 21 times for the Jets. Even though Minnesota continued to demonstrate why they are the #1 team against the run, the Jets stuck with it enough to keep the defense honest and also milk the clock with a lead. Houston was able to cap a long drive with a six yard touchdown late in the first quarter. He also broke a long carry for 20 yards in the third, but it was on a third and very long (22 yards) play. Houston only picked up two first downs on the ground.
|RB B.J. Askew, Rush: 1 - 0 - 0, Rec: 3 - 15 - 0 (3 targets)|
Askew gained zero yards on his lone carry in the second period, but he was used much more as a receiver. He had two first quarter catches of six and nine yards, respectively. Askew’s third and final target came in the third quarter as he added a catch for no gain.
Washington ran once for five yards in the second quarter and added two inconsequential carries in the third quarter.
Tutt was activated off the practice squad just before the game and had one target in the third quarter. He has no fantasy value.
Coles was the most targeted receiver for the Jets in Week 15, getting 13 balls thrown in his direction. Amazingly enough, he caught the first 12 before his final target was intercepted in the fourth quarter. Coles gained 144 yards and eight first downs on his 12 receptions, most of which were short passes of fewer than ten yards. Coles caught at least one pass in every quarter, but he was most productive in the first half with four catches in each of the first two periods. His final catch of the first half was a nice throw and catch on the run to the left corner of the end zone. He managed to get far enough away from the defender to be able to catch a 21 yard touchdown over his shoulder and stay in bounds for the score.
Coles was shaken up in the fourth quarter on the intended pass that was intercepted, as he was drilled in the torso. It was undisclosed as to the nature of the injury, but he seemed okay afterward and was able to move around and walk it off.
Cotchery was targeted often against Minnesota, but not quite as much at Laveranues Coles (10 targets versus 13). Cotchery also caught most of his passes for short yardage, gaining under 10 yards on four of his six receptions. He did have a nice run after a catch in the second quarter to extend the play to 17 total yards, his longest catch of the day. He also added a 14 yarder for his third first down of the game in the third quarter. His final target was also a five yard catch, but it was lost due to an unrelated Jets penalty.
McCareins caught a deep pass for 50 yards in the first quarter on his first opportunity of Week 15, and he later added a 20 yard catch in the third quarter. His other two targets came on plays in between his two receptions, but neither was catchable. McCareins was used as the third or fourth receiver (Brad Smith at times was #3), but his main contribution was stretching the field.
Smith caught one pass in the first quarter that he extended to a 19 yard play with a good run after the catch. His other target came before that reception, but the ball was just thrown away by QB Chad Pennington who was facing pressure from the Vikings. The ball was not catchable.
Baker had four catches, all coming in the second quarter. His biggest production came in the final minute before halftime as the Vikings were in a soft pass defense, and Baker exploited the middle of the field for three catches of 11, 12 and finally six yards.
Nugent made all of his field goal and extra point attempts for Week 15. He connected on three field goals in the second quarter, with a long of 52 yards to compliment his 25 and 45 yarders. The 52 yarder had a ton of leg and could have been good from 60 yards. He later added a short 20 yard field goal in the third period for his fourth field goal of the game. He has now connected on 13 consecutive field goals.
Nugent lost another chance in the first quarter at a fifth field goal, as the snap was botched and the holder (punter Ben Graham) attempted to throw Nugent the ball, but it fell incomplete.
RB Chester Taylor was held in check, gaining just 38 yards on 11 carries. RB Artose Pinner carried just once for four yards, while QB Tarvaris Jackson scrambled three times for 20 total yards. Minnesota gained just three first downs on the ground.
The Jets held QB Brad Johnson to just 96 yards for almost 45 minutes, but they did give up an early touchdown to WR Travis Taylor. The Jets sold out for a blitz with zero coverage (no safety help), and Taylor beat his man for the score. Rookie QB Tarvaris Jackson played the final 16 minutes of the game and did move the ball, but the Jets were able to generate their only interception on a tipped ball in the final period by LB Napoleon Harris. They also added three sacks while Johnson was at the helm.
Jackson entered the game for the final play of the third quarter and then stayed in for the rest of the game. He looked confident with his passing and his decisions, looking to just his first or second read and getting rid of the ball quickly. Jackson zipped the ball to five different receivers, but he definitely favored RB Mewelde Moore (five catches for 53 yards) and WR Troy Williamson (only three catches for 46 yards despite eight targets). WR Travis Taylor was the only other Viking with multiple catches from Jackson (three catches for 40 yards on four targets). TE Jermaine Wiggins, WR Billy McMullen and RB Richard Owens each had an 11 yard catch from Jackson.
It remains to be seen who will start on Thursday against Green Bay, but Jackson seems to be the future of the Vikings. With their slim playoff hopes, it would not be surprising to see the potential starter for 2007 take the helm for Minnesota’s final two games.
Johnson had a pedestrian game once again, not making any mistakes but also not making many big plays either. He did connect on the Vikings’ third play of the game with WR Travis Taylor for a 30 yard touchdown, but he completed only eight more passes for just 66 yards for the next 40+ minutes of the game. Johnson missed a few receivers on crossing routes, throwing behind the open man, but for the most part he just could not provide the spark to get Minnesota’s sputtering offense in gear. HC Brad Childress needed a catalyst, so he benched Johnson for the third time this year with one play to go in the third quarter for the younger QB Tarvaris Jackson. It remains to be seen if Johnson will get the start in Week 16 or for that matter the rest of the season.
Taylor came back from a week’s hiatus to be the feature back for the Vikings against the New York Jets. Taylor was not very effective as a runner, however, as he gained just 38 yards on 11 carries. Taylor broke one run of 13 yards in the third quarter, picking up a first down, but that was the only rushing first down Taylor got all game. He was also not targeted at all by either Viking quarterback.
Moore became a factor in the fourth quarter once QB Tarvaris Jackson came in for QB Brad Johnson. Jackson used Moore as a safety valve, hitting him on short passes when other targets were not able to get open. Moore collected all five of his passes, all coming in the final period, and was able to break a short catch and shake multiple Jets to traverse 35 yards for a touchdown.
Despite his big production last week, Pinner had just one carry for four yards in the second quarter and zero targets in the passing game.
Taylor scored the opening touchdown of the game on a high toss from QB Brad Johnson. Johnson was under pressure from a Jets blitz where the secondary was in zero coverage (no safety help), which allowed him to throw the ball up for grabs to Taylor. Taylor completed his post route and eluded his one defender to the middle of the field and collected the high arcing pass for a 30 yard touchdown on his first target of the game. Taylor added two more short catches before halftime, then added three catches on four chances in the final period, highlighted by a long 31 yard catch from QB Tarvaris Jackson, who played the entire fourth quarter. Taylor was also the intended receiver of a failed two point attempt in the final period.
Williamson was the most targeted Viking in Week 15 against the Jets, getting 13 chances to make a play. After zero targets in the first quarter, Williamson had four before halftime, converting two for 19 yards. He added two more catches in the third quarter for 22 yards, including the final play of the third quarter where he advanced the Vikings 13 yards and picked up a first down on QB Tarvaris Jackson’s first play of the game. Williamson added a 22 yard catch and another for 11 yards in the fourth quarter on seven targets from Jackson, who targeted him on both short and deep routes all quarter.
McMullen had just two catches on five targets, but in fairness to his efforts all three incompletions were not catchable. He collected his third of three second quarter targets for a 17 yard gain and a first down, and then later added an 11 yard catch for another fresh set of downs in the fourth quarter.
Johnson had only one target, a deep pass in the second quarter. The ball was well defended by the Jets and it fell incomplete.
Wiggins caught two five yard passes in the first half, one in each quarter. He closed his production with an 11 yard catch for a first down in the final period.
Owens was targeted once deep in the second quarter, but it fell incomplete. He later grabbed an 11 yard catch for a first down from QB Tarvaris Jackson in the fourth quarter. Those were his only two targets in Week 15.
Dugan had one short catch for zero net yards in the first quarter. It was his only target of the game.
Longwell missed his only field goal attempt of Week 15, a long try from 49 yards away in the second quarter. The ball sailed wide right. Longwell’s only score was on one extra point in the first quarter.
Minnesota displayed once again why they are the #1 team against the run, holding RB Cedric Houston to just 53 yards on 21 tries. The Jets picked up only two first downs on the ground, but did manage to score on a six yard run by Houston early in the game.
The Jets avoided the Vikings’ rush defense and took advantage of the weaker Minnesota secondary. QB Chad Pennington set a career best by throwing for 339 yards and a touchdown as 17 of the 21 first downs for New York came via the air attack. WR Laveranues Coles set a season high with his 12 catches as both he and WR Jerricho Cotchery took advantage of shorter routes to move the Jets downfield.