Jets survive Cowboys 19-16, while going against QB Moore

By on December 20, 2015


Updated: Sunday, December 20, 2015, 12:42 AM

Jets wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins reaches out to grab a long pass in front of Cowboys safety Byron Jones.Brandon Wade/AP

Jets wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins reaches out to grab a long pass in front of Cowboys safety Byron Jones.

DALLAS — Disaster averted.

By the skin of their teeth, the Jets escaped an improbable loss against a quarterback making his NFL debut. The Jets beat a horrible Cowboys team 19-16 in Dallas on Saturday night, but somehow played down to the level of their opponents, who benched Matt Cassel for Kellen Moore in the second quarter. What a way to go down that would have been.

Instead, the Jets survived and continued their potential march toward the postseason. The win on Saturday night extended the Jets’ winning streak to four games.

With the victory, the Jets improve their odds of reaching the playoffs but still do not control their own destiny, as they still need the Steelers or Chiefs to lose a game or for several less likely scenarios to play out elsewhere. But for the moment, Gang Green technically owns the first wild -ard spot in the AFC and are half a game up on Kansas City and Pittsbugh.

Ryan Fitzpatrick threw an interception for the first time since Week 11, but a huge pass by him to a wide open Kenbrell Thompkins in the final minute saved the Jets late. That set up Randy Bullock — who had missed a field goal and PAT earlier — to kick the game winner with 36 seconds left. That capped a 10-point fourth quarter that gave the Jets the victory.

Ryan Fitzpatrick and Chris Ivory celebrate a fourth quarter touchdown as Jets hang on to beat Cowboys.Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Ryan Fitzpatrick and Chris Ivory celebrate a fourth quarter touchdown as Jets hang on to beat Cowboys.

The Jets’ run defense — which entered the week ranked No. 1 in the NFL — allowed the Cowboys to keep moving even with Moore, who threw three interceptions, as their quarterback. That kept Dallas in the game right up until the final minute, when the Jets went ahead.

The Achilles’ heel of the Jets’ defense this year has been stopping trick plays, and that was exposed by Dallas on their first drive. The Cowboys ran a reverse to Lucky Whitehead on their third play of the game that went for 33 yards. However, that drive stalled out in the red zone and the Cowboys were forced to settle for a 27-yard field goal to put them ahead 3-0.

But it was only a few minutes later, Matt Cassel looked like … Matt Cassel. Cassel threw a pass so bad that not only was it picked off by Darrelle Revis, but he was flagged for intentional grounding, too.

The Jets weren’t able to convert that turnover into any points, as they failed on a 4th-and-1 conversion. But with 30 seconds left in the first quarter, the Jets finally got on the scoreboard after a seven-play, 60-yard drive ended in a Bilal Powell 12-yard touchdown, though Randy Bullock missed the PAT.

Dez Bryant scores a touchdown against Darrelle Revis.Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Dez Bryant scores a touchdown against Darrelle Revis.

Cassel’s play was so poor that early in the second quarter, the Cowboys subbed him out for a fourth-year quarterback who had never taken an NFL snap: Kellen Moore. And he looked like it.

On the second pass attempt of his career, Moore heaved a pass deep down the middle of the field and was picked off by Marcus Gilchrist, setting up great field position for the Jets. The Jets couldn’t fully capitalize, however, and had to settle for a field goal that put them ahead 9-3.

Moore got the ball back with just under two minutes left in the half, which normally wouldn’t have worried the Jets but ended up coming back to bite them. After a completion to Terrance Williams and a questionable horse collar call on Calvin Pace, the Cowboys all of a sudden had the ball on the Jets’ 26-yard line. And a couple of plays later, Moore threw a quick pass to Dez Bryant, who juked his way past Revis for a 10-yard touchdown. That, shockingly, gave the Cowboys a 10-9 lead despite Dallas playing so poorly for most of the first half.

However, the Jets managed to get back in field goal range just before the half ended. Bullock actually connected on a 40-yarder that was negated by a penalty, but then missed the 45-yard follow-up attempt.

Cowboys backup QB Kellen Moore and Darren McFadden celebrate a touchdown in the second quarter.Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Cowboys backup QB Kellen Moore and Darren McFadden celebrate a touchdown in the second quarter.

A startling development emerged for the Jets in the third quarter, as Moore and Darren McFadden combined to move the ball quickly downfield against the normally stout Gang Green defense. But just as it looked like the Cowboys were about to hit pay dirt with just over five minutes left in the quarter, Moore fired a bad pass toward Bryant in the middle end zone and was picked off by Calvin Pryor.

And then Fitzpatrick handed the ball right back. Just a couple of plays later, Fitzpatrick threw a pass intended for Thompkins that was picked off by Terrance Mitchell. The Cowboys turned that interception into a field goal to extend their lead to 13-9 with 3:44 left in the third quarter.

In the fourth quarter, the Jets finally got their act together on offense and regained the lead. Fitzpatrick led the Jets on a nine-play, 70-yard drive that included a huge 24-yard third-down conversion to Quincy Enunwa and was capped off with a three-yard TD pass to Eric Decker. That score put the Jets ahead 16-13 with 8:58 left in the ballgame.

But Moore led his team back down the field and put his team in position to kick the tying field goal. And that they did, as Dan Bailey knocked a 50-yarder in off the right upright to tie the contest at 16 apiece with 1:55 remaining.

And then, after avoiding a near-Fitzpatrick fumble, the quarterback threw his biggest pass of the day on a deep ball to Thompkins that went 43-yards and put the Jets in field goal range with 53 seconds left. With 35 seconds left in the game, Bullock was good from 40-yards out to put the Jets ahead 19-16.

Marcus Williams caught a desperation heave by Moore to ice the game for Gang Green.

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