Jets grab lead before half behind patchwork offense

AP

When the season opened, Greg Salas, David Nelson, Josh Cribbs and Zach Sudfeld weren’t members of the Jets.

All four of them have made big plays for the Jets in the first half against the Saints, however, and the Jets lead the Saints 20-14. Sudfeld caught a 25-yard pass from Cribbs to set up a field goal and a 20-yarder from Geno Smith to set up a three-yard Smith touchdown run that gave the Jets the lead with 37 seconds left to play in the first half.

Salas had a first down earlier on that drive, which was set up when Antonio Cromartie picked off Drew Brees in Saints territory. The interception came after Nick Toon let the pass bounce off his fingers, something his father Al rarely did while a member of the Jets in the 1980s. That interception made up for Cromartie falling down in coverage of Robert Meachem, who caught a 60-yard pass from Brees that led to Jimmy Graham’s second touchdown of the day to give the Saints a 14-6 lead.

It seemed like it would be difficult for the Jets to rally at that point as the loss of Jeremy Kerley to an arm injury left them with a skeleton crew of skill position players. Those scrap heap finds all made plays, though, and Chris Ivory has run like a man possessed against the team that traded him to the Jets during the offseason. Ivory has 93 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries and the Jets have exploited the Saints’ weakness against the run to great effect thus far.

Brees has made plays, including a 51-yard strike to Graham for the team’s first touchdowns, but he also burned all three timeouts in the first half and took two delay penalties against a defense that seemed to confuse him at times. If Toon catches a pass he should have caught, that confusion would likely be a sidebar to a Saints lead but Toon didn’t and the Saints are going ot have to come from behind in the second half.