INDIANAPOLIS -- Nick Folk kicked a 32-yard field goal as time expired to give the New York Jets a 17-16 AFC Wild-Card victory over the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium Saturday night.
Adam Vinatieri, who twice kicked game-winning Super Bowl field goals for New England early in his career, converted a 50-yard field goal with 53 seconds remaining, but Jets returner Antonio Cromartie returned the ensuing kick 47 yards to the Jets' 46, and three passes by Mark Sanchez moved the ball to within range for relatively easy game-winner for Folk.
Colts quarterback Peyton Manning threw a 57-yard touchdown pass to Pierre Garcon in the first half, but the Jets rallied to take a 14-10 lead with two 1-yard touchdown runs in the second half by running back LaDainian Tomlinson.
A few thoughts on the game:
• The Colts gambled just after the five-minute mark, allowing Vinatieri to kick a 32-yard field goal goal. It pulled the Colts to within one point, but the gamble paid off when the Indianapolis defense held.
• Credit the Colts' defense. The unit allowed two long second-half touchdown drives, but got a key late stop. The Colts forced a punt with just over three minutes remaining, but Colts wide receiver Taj Smith was called for running into the kicker to give the Jets a first down. The Colts then forced another Jets put with two and a half minutes remaining.
• The Colts' ability to stop the run was key through the final month of the season, but the Jets ran effectively much of Saturday night. The Jets put together two time-consuming drives in the second half, with Tomlinson capping each with a 1-yard touchdown run.
• The Colts' first touchdown came on an all-too familiar scene for the Jets. Manning threw a 57-yard second-quarter touchdown to Garcon, who caught 11 passes for 151 yards in the Colts' 30-17 victory in the AFC Championship game last January.
• A key moment for the Jets came late in the first half. They drove deep into Colts territory with their best drive of the half, and because they were getting the ball to start the second half, had a chance to take control of the game's momentum. Instead, Colts cornerback Justin Tryon intercepted Sanchez, preserving a 7-0 lead and ensuring the Jets couldn't take the lead on their first possession of the second half.
• The Jets tied the game with a grind-it-out drive on their first possession of the second half, and clearly began to establish the run with the drive.
• The Colts and Jets each punted on their first four possessions.
• The Colts have been hurt in the last two postseasons by not being able to pick up 3rd-and-1s in crucial situations. It happened again early and often Saturday, with running back Joseph Addai getting stopped for a two-yard loss on 3rd-and-1 from the Colts 29 on the Colts' first drive.
The Colts picked up their first first down of the game just after three minutes remained in the first quarter. It came on a pass from Manning to running back Dominic Rhodes.
• Rhodes picked up a 3rd-and-1 with a 3-yard run from the Colts 34 on the Colts' fourth drive and did so again early in the second quarter.
• One reason the Jets focused on the run may have been the struggles of Sanchez. He had been dealing with a sore right shoulder and was inaccurate often Saturday, particularly early.
• The Colts continued to test the Jets' run defense early, and although there was little success in the first half, the threat of the run enabled Garcon to get behind the Jets' defense for the first-half touchdown.
• The Colts again failed to pick up a third-and-1 in the third quarter, settling for a 47-yard field goal by Vinatieri that gave the Colts a 10-7 lead with just under five minutes remaining in the quarter.
• Manning did not throw to wide receiver Reggie Wayne in the first quarter. He was covered most of the game one-on-one by cornerback Darrelle Revis. Wayne's first receptions was for a yard early in the second quarter on 4th-and-8 from the Jets 41.
• Jets wide receiver Brad Smith, the team's kick returner, left the game in the first quarter with what was first announced as a groin injury and later announced as a quad. He returned in the second half.
• The Colts also were stopped on 3rd-and-1 on their ensuing two series. They also failed to convert 3rd-and-1 on the ensuing drive when Manning threw for no gain to wide receiver Blair White -- again from the Indianapolis 29. On their third drive, Manning threw incomplete to White on 3rd-and-1.
• The Colts played Saturday without cornerback Kelvin Hayden, placed on injured reserve Saturday with a neck injury. He had missed the last five games.
• The Colts also played without right tackle Ryan Diem and linebacker Clint Session. Rookies Pat Angerer and Kavell Conner started at outside backer for the Colts, and free-agent rookie Jeff Linkenbach started at right tackle.
• Damien Woody started at right tackle for the Jets after being questionable with a knee injury.
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