When you take a look at the Jets’ schedule, you can make a strong argument that they’ve played three quality games: Week 2 against New England, Week 3 against Miami and Week 4 against Buffalo. Those games might not have been perfect, but they can be reasonably seen as “New York Jet games,” wins in which the Jets played the way they planned to, when Rex Ryan’s blueprint worked as he drew it up. (And even those games had Darrelle Revis at less than 100 percent.) Otherwise, the Jets have just been a little off all season, not all parts clicking at once, struggling to make all parts move in unison. And still, the Jets are 7–2, tied with New England and Atlanta for the best record in the NFL.
Yesterday’s 26–20 overtime win over the Browns was similar to the win over the Lions the week before, and not just because the game went into overtime on the road. (The Jets became the first team in NFL history to win two consecutive OT games away from home.) The Jets faced a fired-up, insurgent home team, held off all their charges, and finally sneaked out the win late, this one on a streaking Santonio Holmes on a slant route, a touchdown that looked shockingly easy. It avoided the Jets’ first tie since October 2, 1988, and kept us from having to type an extra two characters anytime we mentioned the Jets’ record the rest of the season.
The second half yesterday was as close to ideal as the Jets have had all season, until Colt McCoy’s game-tying final drive in regulation. The defense was a bit woozy in the first half — Peyton Hillis seems beamed here from a planet designed solely to make football color commentators happy — but clamped down in the second, and all told, this game shouldn’t have been nearly as close as it was. Kicker Nick Folk had an awful game, missing three field goals, any of which would have kept this one out of overtime. We love the “all right, you’re not an asshole” reaction shots of a kicker after his team has bailed him out with a win. Poor kickers.
Mark Sanchez played well, and the receiving corps the Jets surrounded him with in the off-season is starting to pay dividends. The Jets are inching, closer, to the goal all along. Still, there are those Patriots, who went into Pittsburgh and hammered the Steelers last night and are still tied with the Jets atop the AFC East. That Monday-night December 6 game in Foxboro looms larger every week. At the beginning of the year, this two-week road stretch against Detroit and Cleveland looked like a breather. Now, knowing how much both teams (especially Cleveland) have improved, it feels like an exam survived, an impressive pothole avoided. The Jets have two home games against teams under .500 the next two weeks. It’s starting to come together. They could use a nice old-fashioned blowout, though. This is getting exhausting.