Veteran Tried to Turn the Tide in Loss to Chargers by Smothering a Punt, Notching Several Tackles for Loss Randy Lange
The Jets' highlights in their first half against the Los Angeles Chargers Sunday could be placed in one folder at the front of the file cabinet. The one marked "A," for "Anderson, Henry."
But Anderson's never been one to dwell on his individual accomplishments. His third blocked punt not six minutes into the game, his tackle for loss, his first half-sack of 2020 all took a back seat to what he and his teammates continue to deal with as their record fell to 0-10.
"It's probably the most frustrated any of us has been playing football," the veteran D-lineman said after the Jets' come-from-behind-but-not-all-the-way 34-28 loss to the Chargers. "I feel we're doing everything we can during the week of preparation. We've just got to find those extra few things we can do to get us over the hump. We're practicing hard, we're focused and attentive in the meetings, we're getting after it and competing in practice. It's just not coming together on Sundays."
Before it almost came together in the final quarter, the Jets had to weather a first half that started out sublimely - with help from Anderson's special teams ability.
He gave credit to ST Coordinator Brant Boyer for his third blocked kick in his three Jets seasons, with the rejection of Ty Long's punt enabling him to join the franchise club that includes only Joe Klecko and Donald Dykes as players who have at least one punt block, one field goal block and one extra point block in their Jets careers.
"I'm a big dude rushing off the end and the guy who was going to block me was smaller. He had to brace for me running him over, so I just swan inside and got through," Anderson said. "That was something Coach Boyer saw on film and we thought we could take advantage of it."
That's just what the Jets offense did, cashing in Anderson's block and Quinnen Williams' recovery at the LA 29 into La'Mical Perine's 5-yard TD run and a 6-0 lead.
But from there things began to slide along the San Andreas Fault toward the Pacific for the visitors from the East as they fell behind 24-6 while yielding a 277-82 edge in scrimmage yards.
Most of that came from the arm of rookie QB Justin Herbert dropping dimes into the baskets of WRs Keenan Allen and Mike Williams and TE Hunter Henry. Very little came on the running game as the Jets' front wall held the Chargers to 19 yards on 10 carries at the half and 29 on 26 for the game.
The rushing figure was skewed by Long's last-seconds fourth-down dash to his end zone for an intentional safety, which was recorded as a 28-yard rushing loss. Be that as it may, the 1.12 yards/carry by the Chargers was the third-lowest total by an opponent in franchise history. Unfortunately, it didn't do much to dent their 347 net passing yards.
"They've got some good playmakers at the receiver position," Anderson said. "I thought we did a decent job of shutting down that running attack, but you've got to keep getting after the quarterback, make his life more difficult so he doesn't have time to find his guys downfield. ... We've got to help the guys on the back end."
Anderson pitched in vs. the run and the pass. With a 3-yard loss on a solo tackle of Kalen Ballage and a split tackle for a 1-yard loss on Troymaine Pope in the second half, Anderson added 1.5 tackles for loss/no gain to his team-leading 8.0 TFLNG coming into the weekend. And his sack of Herbert in the last minute of the first half, split with Williams, almost but not quite moved the Chargers out of Michael Badgley field goal range. His 44-yarder opened that seemingly insurmountable 18-point lead.
Came the second half and the Jets offense suddenly started erupting while L.A., which had lost multiple second-half leads in falling to 2-7, became less productive. It was almost enough for the Jets to contemplate tying things up after the two-minute warning, winning it with an overtime field goal, and savoring one of the greatest road comebacks in franchise history on their cross-country flight home. Almost.
Instead, the Jets suffered Loss No. 10. But Anderson and his mates will keep dreaming and scheming.
"I feel like we've been close the last couple of weeks to getting that win. Last year in the second half of the season, I think we won six of the last eight games. It's definitely contagious," Anderson said of elusive victory. "Once the momentum starts, we've got the talent, we've got guys on both sides of the ball that can make plays. We've just got to find a way to put it together and get that first win."