DENVER (AP) — Cornerback Andre Goodman intercepted Mark Sanchez's pass and raced 26 yards for a touchdown to help the Denver Broncos tie the New York Jets 10-10 heading into the final quarter Thursday night.
Goodman's interception came after the Jets took the lead when offensive lineman Matt Slauson fell on a fumble in the end zone.
Slauson, who attended high school down the road in Colorado Springs, happened to be standing in the right place at the proper time after the Broncos jarred the ball out of tailback Bilal Powell's hands.
With the ball rolling between the legs of the linemen, Slauson pounced on it and tumbled into the end zone, much to the surprise of everyone on the field and in the stands.
The play was upheld after a brief review.
Slauson became the first Jets offensive lineman to score a TD in that fashion since Randy Rasmussen did it against the Miami Dolphins on Oct. 8, 1972.
But the lead was short-lived.
Sanchez was having a sizzling second half before he tried to force a pass to Plaxico Burress. Reading the play all the way, Goodman stepped in front of the throw and easily sauntered into the end zone.
On the ensuing kickoff, Joe McKnight fumbled the football and it was recovered by Denver at the New York 42. But the Jets' defense held and forced a punt.
Nick Folk connected on a 21 yarder to tie the game at 3 at halftime. He also missed two from long range — a 52-yarder that sailed left late in the first quarter and a 61-yard attempt just before half was short and just left.
The Jets bottled up Tim Tebow and an offense that was customized just for him. The popular yet polarizing quarterback was more effective with his arm than his legs, throwing for 69 yards and rushing for 11.
The Broncos caught the Jets by surprise on the first play of the game — a pass from Tebow down the sideline that Demaryius Thomas hauled in for a 28-yard gain.
From there, it was a mix of conventional (Willis McGahee up middle), option (Tebow bluffed a run and flipped a pass to Lance Ball) and unconventional (Eric Decker attempted a long pass only to overthrow Thomas).
But the Jets stuffed the drive when they halted McGahee on fourth and short.
However, New York's offense couldn't capitalize on the momentum, with Sanchez getting sacked by Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller on third down.
T.J. Conley shanked a punt that traveled only 13 yards and set the Broncos up at the Jets 34. The Broncos turned that into a short field goal from Matt Prater.
Shonn Greene was going to receive a bulk of the carries with LaDainian Tomlinson (left knee) out of action, but Greene injured his ribs in the first quarter and his return was questionable. He rushed for 10 yards on three carries before gingerly walking off the field.
McKnight filled in for him, gaining 35 yards on 12 carries.
The Jets were driving near the end of the first quarter, aided by a personal foul on Broncos safety Brian Dawkins for a blow to the head of receiver Burress on a deep pass. But Folk missed a 52-yard attempt to the left.
Just before time ran out in the first quarter, McGahee fumbled and it was recovered by Bart Scott. That set up Folk's 21-yard field goal.
McGahee returned to the backfield after he tweaked his left hamstring Sunday at Kansas City and was limited in practice. McGahee, the team's leading rusher, split time with Ball and Jeremiah Johnson, who was promoted from the practice squad this week to replace Knowshon Moreno after former first-round pick tore his right ACL against the Chiefs.
The Broncos have built their offense around Tebow, turning to an option scheme that has the look of what he ran at Florida that to made him one of the best combination quarterbacks in NCAA history.
This particular style is giving defensive coordinators fits, too.
In back-to-back wins at Oakland and Kansas City, Tebow guided an offense that ran the ball 93 times and threw it just 30. The Broncos gained 543 yards on the ground and 182 through the air.
Relying on this unconventional style led by an unorthodox quarterback, Denver has suddenly surged back into contention in the mediocre AFC West.
The Broncos were hardly predictable in the first quarter. Tebow completed more passes in 15 minutes of action (three) than he did all game at Kansas City (two).
This unique style also keeps one of the Jets' top playmakers, Darrelle Revis, on the outside peering in. The Pro Bowl cornerback can't afford to collapse on the option, just in case Tebow pulls it out of the tailback's belly and fires a pass to the outside.
The Jets had a short week to devise a game plan to contain an offense that's rarely run on this level. It was a stark contrast to the spread offense the Jets encountered in a 37-16 loss last weekend to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.