In the first Sunday of the 2011 NFL season, the best, and most exciting, was saved for last.
Mark Sanchez and Tony Romo battled in the nationally televised Sunday nightgame that was heavy on passing, and light on rushing, with the Jets' quarterback coming out on top in a thrilling come-from-behind victory over the Cowboys, 27-24, at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
New York trailed 24-10 in the fourth quarter following a one-yard touchdown run with 14:50 remaining by Felix Jones. The comeback was on, with Sanchez connecting with Plaxico Burress from 26 yards for a touchdown, and then the special teams came up big to tie the game on Isaiah Trufant's 18-yard touchdown return following the fantastic blocked punt by Joe McKnight.
Former Cowboy Nick Folk kicked a 50-yard field goal with 27 seconds left to give the Jets the dramatic season-opener win.
Dallas was undone by two costly turnovers. In the fourth quarter, Romo was sacked just two yards from the Jets' end zone, and his fumble was recovered by defensive tackle Sione Pouha. Later, with under one minute remaining, Romo's pass intended for Dez Bryant was intercepted by Darrelle Revis.
We lost this game because of me, Romo said.
Sanchez completed 26 passes on 44 attempts for 335 yards, while Romo was 23 of 36 for 342 yards, but both quarterbacks had a fumble and a costly interception. Near the end of the third quarter, Sanchez's pass intended for Dustin Keller was intercepted by Sean Lee, who returned it to near the goal line, setting up Jones's touchdown run.
Both defenses were effective in containing the run. The Cowboys rushed 26 times for just 64 yards, while the Jets rushed 16 times for only 45 yards.
Jason Witten led all receivers with 110 yards off six receptions for Dallas. Miles Austin had five receptions for 90 yards, including a touchdown grab where he shared possession with Jets' cornerback Antonio Cromartie.
LaDainian Tomlinson caught six passes for 73 yards. Burress, in his first regular season game since his long absence from the NFL due to legal problems, had four receptions for 72 yards.
It was a draining game, said Jets' head coach Rex Ryan. I am just so proud we were able to pull this thing out, for the town, as well. I probably even feel better about that than I do for our football team.
It was an emotional win,said Sanchez. It was the ultimate team win.
In a wild start to the season, the Jets had a wild statistic: New York didn't commit one penalty in the whole game. It was the first time the Jets didn't get a flag since 2007.
The Jets were able to delight their home crowd on a day that commemorated the decade anniversary of the attacks on September 11th.
In attendance for the special game were President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, as well as actors Robert De Niro, Billy Crystal, and rapper Jay-Z.