Jets 30, Texans 27: Kubiak's Crew Finds An Even More Spectacular Way To Collapse
Leading by four with the Jets at midfield with 24 seconds and no timeouts, two priorities should have been abundantly clear for Houston defenders.
Don't let receivers get behind the defense, and don't let anyone near the sideline.
Somehow the Texans failed on both counts, allowing Braylon Edwards -- New York's biggest receiver -- space to make an uncontested catch inside the 10-yard line and also step out of bounds.
That set up the game-winning touchdown pass from Mark Sanchez to Santonio Holmes, giving the Jets (8-2) a 30-27 victory and sending the Texans (4-6) a fourth consecutive loss.
Inexplicable, yet predictable.
Everything about the play was a disaster. Newly-signed cornerback Jason Allen played Edwards from an inside position, stunningly pushing him toward the sideline.
Moreover, safety Eugene Wilson for some bizarre reason seemed more concerned with slot receiver Brad Smith than Edwards, even though Smith was in the middle of the field, covered, AND had Bernard Pollard waiting in help coverage.
The few sympathizers of head coach Gary Kubiak and defensive coordinator Frank Bush had previously pointed to the relative lack of defensive talent, but the heartbreaking last-second losses of the past two weeks have rendered any such arguments moot.
High school teams should be able to stop the Jets in such a desperate situation. As with Glover Quin's failed knockdown in Jacksonville, the embarrassing late collapse had little to do with physical talent and everything to do with players simply being mentally unprepared to make the appropriate decisions.
The potential was there for an epic day for the Texans. Quarterback Matt Schaub and the Texan offense had scored 20 consecutive points in the fourth quarter, on the road against a first-place team. The long-maligned defense had forced two crucial turnovers.
The Titans had fallen to 5-5 and may have lost Vince Young permanently. The Colts were hours from dropping to 6-4. Had they held a four-point lead with 49 seconds and New York having no timeouts, the train-wreck Texans would have somehow been within a game of first place.
Instead, collapse became routine and the 4-6 Texans had another set of nails banged into the coffin of their disastrous 2010.
On the surface, next week would appear to offer the antidote to the team's defensive struggles against the pass. With Young out, the Titans will come to Reliant Stadium most likely starting third-string rookie Rusty Smith at quarterback.
Then again, Smith torching the Texans wouldn't be any more improbable than Edwards' 41-yard catch on Sunday.
One play truly can say it all.