EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Heavily criticized Mark Sanchez hit Jeff Cumberland with a perfect 27-yard touchdown pass, lifting the New York Jets into a 7-7 tie with Houston after one quarter Monday night.
The Jets, who have won all five meetings with the Texans, were coming off a 34-0 home loss to the 49ers in which their offense, defense and special teams were pitiful. But an interception by Antonio Cromartie set up their touchdown and gave their fans something to enjoy.
Unable to deal with that prosperity, the Jets yielded a 46-yard run by Arian Foster on the next play from scrimmage. But that led nowhere, and the quarter ended tied.
Houston wasted no time showing why it is the AFC's lone undefeated team, driving 85 yards on eight plays, with Matt Schaub going 4 for 5. Owen Daniels, who earlier gained 14 yards on a screen pass, got wide open behind the secondary on his 34-yard touchdown as New York's safeties both bit on play-action.
New York then went three-and-out, an all-too-common series for the Jets thus far this year; they rank 28th in offense, while going 2-2. But the Texans also couldn't go anywhere on their next series.
Tim Tebow made his first appearance on the Jets' fifth play from scrimmage and, to a wave of cheers, threw a pinpoint deep pass to newcomer Jason Hill. But the receiver dropped it, Tebow departed and Sanchez missed Clyde Gates on third down, bringing on a chorus of boos.
Jets coach Rex Ryan promised his defense would be sturdier than in last week's rout at the hands of San Francisco, and after Houston's scoring drive, it was. Cromartie stepped in front of Andre Johnson and picked off Schaub's pass on the Texans' third possession, then gave the ball to his wife in the stands.
Four plays later, the Jets had tied it, their first points in two weeks.
The short-handed Jets were without their top defensive player, Darrelle Revis (left knee), and key receivers Santonio Holmes (left foot, on injured reserve) and tight end Dustin Keller (hamstring). They also were minus starting nose tackle Sione Pouha (back).
Houston also was missing a key player, backup running back Ben Tate.
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