By Brad Carroll
It wasn't pretty, but the New York Jets opened the new season with a 19-14 victory over the Oakland Raiders Sunday afternoon. The Jets turned the ball over twice and committed 11 penalties, making this game a lot closer than it should have been. Take away those negatives and the Jets dominated. Of course, the Jets won't be able to do that next week in Green Bay.
Here's who deserves Game Balls for leading the Jets to victory, and those that get saddled with Game Falls for doing their best to derail the efforts.
Defensive Line: Former Jets lineman Austin Howard, now playing for the Raiders, said leading into the game Oakland would be able to push around the Jets defensive front. Whether or not they took those words as a challenge, the Jets defensive line, led by Mo Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson and Damon Harrison, completely shut down the Raiders rushing attack, allowing just 25 yards on the ground. Wilkerson had two pass deflections as well. It was a dominating performance for the best unit in football.
[Plenty to like after Jets beat Raiders in Week 1]
Chris Johnson: The Jets offense simply looks more explosive when Johnson is on the field. He was great in his debut, rushing for 68 yards on 13 carries and adding five receptions for 23 yards and a touchdown. Johnson didn't break a big play in this game, but it was easy to see the potential to do so is there at any moment.
Chris Ivory: He had one of the best runs for the Jets in years, breaking free for a 71-yard score that put the game away in the fourth quarter. Ivory broke free and had just enough wheels to get into the end zone while being caught from behind. It was tied for the second longest in team history. He had 102 yards on 10 carries and the game-winning score with 8:03 to go in the game. With Johnson and Ivory in the backfield, the Jets can do a lot of damage in the running game.
Eric Decker: The new wide receiver looked every bit the part of a No. 1 receiver in the opening game, bringing in five passes for 74 yards. He should have had a touchdown as well, but Michael Vick missed Decker, who was wide-open, in the end zone on a trick play. That was the only pass thrown Decker's way he didn't get.
Dawan Landry: There was some talk Landry would lose his starting safety job in the preseason, but luckily for the Jets, he won a job and had a fantastic first game. He had seven tackles, five solo, and brought down rookie quarterback David Carr for one of the two Jets sacks.
Greg Salas: On the Jets first drive of the game and facing a first and 20 from the Oakland 27, Geno Smith hit Salas in the hands for what should have been a touchdown. But Salas, who was one of the last players to make the team, dropped what should have been a 27-yard touchdown pass. Salas beat his man and was open in the end zone, but couldn't bring in the pass.
Michael Vick: He got three opportunities in the game and couldn't finish off what would have been a great play on one of them. Out of the wildcat, Johnson took the snap, pitched it to Vick, who then threw the ball to a wide-open Decker in the back of the end zone. But the pass was too wide and Decker barely got a hand on it. One play later, however, the Jets scored on a Smith shovel pass to Johnson.
Willie Colon: The Jets had 11 penalties for 105 yards, which was a big reason they didn't blow out the Raiders. Colon was the biggest culprit, getting flagged three times, once for holding, once for a false start and another for a face mask. Breno Giacomini also had a false start penalty.