One Up, One Down

Both the Jets and Giants Turn Out to Be Giant Killers

On the other hand, the Jets might have an edge in field position similar to what they had against the Colts. While handing the Jet offense the ball at an average of the 38-yard line (compared with the 29 for the Colts), Coach Mike Westhoff's special teams also produced two backbreaking plays: Ray Mickens's fumble recovery of a kickoff seconds after the Jets had taken a 10-0 lead and Chad Morton's 70-yard kickoff return to open the second half. "It all starts with our coach, because he expects so much of us," said Morton after the game. "Sometimes, if we get a 50- or 60-yard return, and it's not blocked perfectly, he'll still get mad at us." Westhoff may find little to grouse about in Oakland, where his kick returners face one of the most porous special-teams defenses in the NFL, worse than all but the Cincinnati Bengals against punt returns and dead last in covering kickoffs.

If you're looking for a key to how the game's going, focus on the Jets' second downs. During the regular season, the Jets were a middling 15th in the league in converting third-down plays into first downs. But against the Colts, offensive coordinator Paul Hackett found a solution: Be aggressive on second-down plays. The Jets gained an average of 8.23 yards on second downs, converting 13 first downs. They also found that it is a lot easier (55 percent easy) to move the chains on third down when there are fewer yards to gain. The Jet offense had best remain aggressive this Sunday. The Raider defense allowed opponents to convert a mere 38.3 percent of their third downs and ended the season by holding the league's highest-scoring offense (Kansas City) scoreless. —Paul Forrester

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