Normally the third preseason game is when the starters for any team get the most playing time. For the New York Jets that was the case against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday night. While the offense did manage to move the ball, some untimely drops, a tipped ball for an interception and costly penalty prevented the Jets from scoring a touchdown in there loss 17-12.
After Josh Brown's kick-off resulted in a touchback, the Panthers started a drive that would wind up in an Olindo Mare field goal. During the drive Kenrick Ellis tackled Jonathan Stewart for a loss and got a half sack with Jay Richardson on Cam Newton. On the Jets first drive, Mark Sanchez connected with Dustin Keller for 24 yards, but Keller came up lame just before contact and did not play the rest of the game. Sanchez would target Patrick Turner to get the Jets down to Carolina's 30 yard line. Nick Folk would connected from 46 yards after the drive stalled. Bart Scott continued being physical meeting Stewart in the backfield for a play that resulted in no gain. There was a Jeremy Kerley sighting when he returned Carolina's first punt 12 yards.
Antonio Cromartie would tip a pass intended for Panthers wide receiver Seyi Ajirotutu. Shonn Greene would have a good run for a first down on the next Jets series. Sanchez would target Santonio Holmes for a first down on a slant pattern. Sanchez would then connect with Stephen Hill for 32 yards. Sanchez would try to connect with Josh Baker for a would-be touchdown, but Baker took a shot in the thigh and the pass was incomplete. Baker would not return leaving the Jets thin at tight end. Josh Brown would make a 32 yard field goal to put the Jets up 6-3. Quinton Coples would force a fumble on Newton, Scott would recover and set up the Jets deep in Carolina territory. After a costly unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Matt Slauson, Sanchez tried to run for the score on third down, but was stopped at the four yard line. Folk would connect from 22 yards to put the Jets up 9-3. Aaron Maybin caused some mayhem and almost got Newton on the goal line. On the Jets next drive, Hill would have pass from Sanchez deflect off his hands to Captain Munnerlyn of Carolina for the interception. Eventually Cam Newton would connect with Louis Murphy for the touchdown to put Carolina up at the half 10-9.
The report coming back from halftime was that David Harris would not return with an ankle injury. Joe McKnight would have his best return of the night, taking the second half kick-off to the 37 yard line. The Jets would drive with Sanchez diving through the pile on a fourth down and one play to barely make a first down. Greene would find a big hole and rumble for 20 plus yards, but the drive would stall. Josh Brown was set to try a 40 yard field goal attempt that became 45 after Kenrick Ellis was called for a false start penalty. Brown would not make the 45 yard attempt. On the next Carolina series, LaRon Landry would bust through to tackle Smith for a loss. A few plays later Landry would intercept Derek Anderson on an overthrown pass. Tim Tebow would come in, spin away from a sack, and connect with Stephen Hill for a first down. Eventually the Jets would get another field goal, Folk connecting from 30 yards to give the Jets the lead again 12-10.
Derek Anderson would connect with Gary Barnidge several times on there next series which included a scoring touchdown to put the Panthers back up 17-12. Tebow would scramble away from a would-be sack on a third down and 16 play to gain 20 yards and a first down. Wayne Hunter, playing left tackle on the second team line would give up a sack on Tebow. Tebow, moving to his right, would be picked, on an ill advised pass, by Reggie Smith. The Jets would move down the field behind Tebow in the two minute drill, with passes to Joseph Collins followed by one to tight end Dedrick Epps. Tebow had a pass to Jordan White broken up, then the final play sailed over the head of Hayden Smith.
There are some positives that can be built upon for the offense, while the starting defense, despite missing Mike DeVito and Yeremiah Bell, played pretty well. On Thursday the New York Jets visit the Philadelphia Eagles with Greg McElroy and Matt Simms likely playing each half. The only thing this game will showcase is which of the remaining 75 players will make the final 53 man roster.
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