The New York Jets beat the Dallas Cowboys night in Arlington, Texas, Saturday night to keep their playoff hopes alive. The win keeps the Jets in second place for the AFC East and gives the Jets a half-game lead over fellow AFC playoff contenders Kansas City and Pittsburgh.
The Jets victory certainly wasn’t the prettiest of wins. According to NFL.com, Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick only completed 26 of 39 passes and threw the same amount of touchdowns as interceptions (one). Jets kicker Randy Bullock missed a 45-yard field goal that could have given the Jets the lead before half-time. It was Bullock, however, that would score the game winner with 41 seconds left, giving the Jets the victory, 19-16.
While some question the durability of the Jets offense, the Jets defense was getting some help from two unlikely sources — Dallas Cowboys’ quarterbacks Matt Cassel and Kellen Moore.
The Cowboys have struggled in the quarterback position since the loss of veteran Tony Romo not once, but twice to a broken clavicle this season. In November, ESPN reported on the release of Cowboys veteran back up quarterback Brandon Weeden to make room for Romo’s return and third-stringer Matt Cassel’s turn at the helm. When Romo re-injured himself, the Cowboys turned to Cassel with the hope that he could carry Dallas long enough to make a playoff run but over the past several weeks, it became quite clear that Cassel wasn’t the answer to Dallas’ prayers.
Cassel failed to produce any touchdowns for the Cowboys during games against Washington and Green Bay and on Saturday night against the Jets, Matt Cassel did something that no Dallas Cowboys quarterback in recent memory has managed to do. While rolling out, Cassel stumbled over his own feet, and fearing the sack threw the ball directly to wide open Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis. As if the interception itself wasn’t a big enough blow to the Cowboy quarterback’s ego, Cassel also managed to get called for intentional grounding on the play.
Matt Cassel finds… Revis Island 🌴 https://t.co/K8cVSPO9nN
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) December 20, 2015
Desperate to give talented Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant a fighting chance against the Jets, Dallas turned to rookie quarterback Kellen Moore. While Moore undoubtedly made his mom and dad proud with his first NFL touchdown, the Cowboys were clearly in trouble as he struggled to complete 15 of 25 passes for 158 yards and threw three interceptions, including the one that would take away Dallas’ last opportunity to score by giving the Jets the ball in the final seconds of the game. One of Moore’s most talked about passes during the game was to Cowboys’ Barry Church. The problem with that pass of course was that Church is a strong safety who happened to be sitting on the Cowboys bench at the time the pass was lofted into his groin.
While first year Jets head coach Todd Bowles is basking in his victory, veteran Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett may be worried for his job. Bowles knew he had a difficult task ahead of him in making the Jets a playoff contender. The Jets haven’t seen the post-season since 2010 and some questioned if this would be their year following Jets quarterback Geno Smith’s broken jaw before the season even started.
But Garrett has inherited somewhat of a dynasty in the Dallas Cowboys, one expected to perform well enough to make a repeat appearance in the playoffs. With tonight’s loss, the Cowboys drop to a record of 4-10. The loss eliminated the Cowboys from playoff contention, and it’s obvious that Matt Cassel and Kellen Moore aren’t the quarterbacks to bring home the championship.
[Jets head coach Todd Bowles cover image courtesy of Scott Halleran/Getty Images.]