Jets head into bye with winning feeling again
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP)
But, Halloween's a week away. What's with the costume party?
''I'm celebrating it early,'' the All-Pro cornerback said Monday with a laugh. ''This is my Halloween outfit.''
Ah, yes. Happy days are here again. Just like that, the Jets (4-3) have gone from gloom and doom to fun-loving again.
Two wins in a week can do that sometimes, and Rex Ryan's team is feeling loose and confident as it heads into the bye-week break on a two-game winning streak. First was a 24-6 win over Miami last Monday night, and then a 27-21 comeback victory over San Diego on Sunday.
''The way we're playing, the style of football that has been successful for us, we're getting back to that,'' safety Jim Leonhard said. ''This is how we win. This is our blueprint.''
All of that talk about the season possibly spiraling out of control for the Jets has been replaced by the spunk and swagger that appeared to be missing just a few weeks ago. And, as usual, it all starts with Ryan.
The mouthy coach took an inadvertent swipe at Chargers coach Norv Turner last week, and later apologized. But it was enough to create a coast-to-coast stir. Then, Ryan defended his secondary on Monday after San Diego tight end Randy McMichael said the Jets' defensive backs aren't ''anything'' and that the Chargers beat themselves - and had nothing to do with New York's play.
''Stay classy, San Diego,'' a smiling Ryan said, stealing a line made famous by Will Ferrell's character, Ron Burgundy, in the movie ''Anchorman.''
Jets players weren't as low-key in their responses to McMichael's comments, but were equally amusing.
''When you're up by 11 points in the fourth quarter and you can't even finish the game up, that shows what kind of team you are: a team that can't finish,'' said cornerback Antonio Cromartie, a former Charger. ''And that's been San Diego the whole time.''
Added Leonhard: ''He'll have fun watching the tape today.''
The Chargers blew an 11-point third-quarter lead, helped by 13 penalties and the Jets' defense holding them to 1 for 7 on third downs in the second half. As for McMichael, he finished with three catches for 45 yards.
''Nobody was worried about McMichaels,'' Revis said. ''Whatever his name is. McMichaels, McMichael. I don't know his name.''
Yep, this is once again the team the rest of the NFL has loved to hate the last two years, when the Jets rubbed people the wrong way all the way to two consecutive AFC championship games.
''If we play like that,'' Ryan said of the win over the Chargers, ''we're going to be tough to beat.''
And even tougher to quiet. Ryan is known for making bold statements and outrageous proclamations, and projecting a confident and cocky attitude that the team gravitates around.
''I know there's a coach that was saying (the players) don't believe what I say,'' Ryan said without identifying the coach. ''Really? Oh, OK. I wonder who you talked to. No one in this locker room. It might not be the truth, but I tell them what I believe to be the truth. There's a difference. But, I'm telling you what I think is a fact.
''Sometimes, it doesn't always work out that way.''
Such as those Super Bowl guarantees Ryan has made before each of the last few seasons. In fact, Turner got back at Ryan for his swipe by issuing a playful jab of his own, asking if the Jets coach had the rings he would've won if he were the Chargers coach with the ones he has promised in New York.
''I will no longer say the word `rings' anymore, because of the `kiss Belichick's rings' stuff and the rings here with San Diego,'' Ryan said jokingly. ''I'm not going to use that word anymore. No more of those things. I get crushed every time I say it.''
What about using ''Lombardi Trophy'' next time you promise a parade?
''That's a possibility,'' Ryan said, smiling.
How about the term, ''Super Bowl?'' Is that still in the official Rex lexicon?
''I can use that one, yes,'' he said. ''But it's just not `rings.'''
The Jets aren't blindly optimistic, though. They recognize they have plenty of work to do to get back into the conversation as serious playoff contenders, but the win over the Chargers offered a glance at what they might be able to accomplish. When San Diego took a 21-10 lead in the first half, it appeared the Chargers were on their way to a blowout.
But the Jets' defense took advantage of mistakes and the offense started humming, with Mark Sanchez finishing with three touchdown passes to Plaxico Burress. It was perhaps the best half of football the team has played all season - and now comes a break before the Jets embark on their playoff push.
''We ended on a good note and that's where we want to pick up,'' Cromartie said. ''When we get back, guys are going to be ready because our next two games are very important division games. We're playing against Buffalo and then come back again and play New England. We just have to make sure our mindsets are correct when we come back in, everyone is fresh and everyone is coming back healthy. That's all we're worried about.''
Oh, but then there's the fact the Jets are 0-2 in games immediately after the break under Ryan.
''We'll do it business as usual,'' said Ryan, who gave the players off until Sunday. ''The only difference is we're going to win coming out of the bye this year.''