Road warrior Jets getting breaks, pulling out wins
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP)
Plenty of words have been kicked around to describe the New York Jets this season.
Good. Resilient. Tough. Advantageous.
Then, there's the one that just burns them up: Lucky.
''I hope we're lucky all the way to the Super Bowl because we'll take it,'' coach Rex Ryan said Monday. ''You can make breaks, but it's funny because the good teams are always the lucky teams. I hope we keep that trend going.''
A few lucky breaks here and some big plays there have the Jets tied for the best record in the NFL at 7-2. The last few victories have come with some anxious moments, with New York becoming the first team in league history to win consecutive road games in overtime after a 26-20 win in Cleveland on Sunday.
''It's hard to luck up and become 7-2,'' right tackle Damien Woody said. ''People are just throwing it out there.''
Perhaps because the Jets have become the escape artists of the NFL, a group of cardiac road warriors who haven't made things easy on themselves while piling up wins.
''This year, man, I'm telling you,'' defensive tackle Sione Pouha said, ''there's something about this team. It's like no-holds-barred. We're not getting on that plane until we get that 'W.'''
In their latest close call, the Jets dominated the Browns in yardage (456-303) and held the ball for an astounding 47-plus minutes - yet still needed nearly five quarters to win.
''Anybody who watched the game yesterday can clearly see that we didn't luck up and win the game,'' Woody said. ''We had opportunities to win in regulation. We just didn't capitalize. By no means are we lucky.''
The Jets recognize they are a team with flaws, particularly when it comes to penalties and red-zone efficiency. They also know they have been winning despite all the criticism for how they've been going about it.
''This is the NFL. Who cares about what somebody else says?'' wide receiver Santonio Holmes said. ''We want the 'W' and we're going to walk away with the 'W' regardless of how it looks. We can stand out there and we could be flipping burgers. If we are the team to cook all of our burgers first and the other team was right there two seconds late, they lost. We're the winners, and that's how we're going to roll with it.''
That approach has the Jets soaring to the top of the AFC East standings, tied with the New England Patriots - but ahead on a tiebreaker because of an earlier victory at home.
New York is also 5-0 on the road, a measure of success Woody says the Jets need to apply at the New Meadowlands Stadium, where they're 2-2.
''Whatever we're doing on the road,'' he said, ''we have to bring home.''
They'll get the chance to improve on that with two games in a span of five days against struggling Houston on Sunday and Cincinnati on Thanksgiving. And, with a little bit of, yep, luck, the Jets and Patriots could both be 9-2 when they play each other in New England on Dec. 6.
''You have to roll with the punches that are being thrown, and I think, right now, no style points really matter,'' Holmes said. ''Just stacking wins on top of each other.''
Such as the 24-20 victory at Denver on Oct. 17, when Mark Sanchez led the Jets downfield on the winning drive that was capped by LaDainian Tomlinson's 2-yard run with 1:13 left in regulation.
After an ugly 9-0 loss at home to Green Bay the following week, the Jets hit the road again and pulled off another fourth-quarter comeback at Detroit. They tied it with 10 points in less than three minutes - helped by a late-hit penalty.
The Jets got the ball right back after Nick Folk's field goal as regulation expired and won it after Sanchez set up the winning kick by connecting with Holmes for 52 yards.
''I use the old adage that Urban Meyer once told me that the harder you work, the luckier you get,'' said Pouha, who played for Meyer at Utah. ''Last time I heard, we still have to play. There's no lucky coin, no lucky rabbit's foot. There's nothing about luck about winning a game.''
But it's hard not to think there's maybe a little good fortune involved, especially after the Jets pulled out a game they appeared on their way to lose - or at least tie. They blew a late lead and Cleveland had a chance to win in overtime, but Chansi Stuckey fumbled at the New York 32.
Folk missed his third field goal of the game on the ensuing possession, but the Browns went three-and-out. With 1:46 left in the extra period, New York caught a break on a turnover as Sanchez's deep pass was intercepted by rookie Joe Haden at the Jets 3 - a result they could've only hoped for with a punt.
After the Browns went three-and-out again, Sanchez hit Holmes for a 37-yard touchdown with only 16 seconds to play.
''It's a good measuring stick,'' Pouha said of the close calls. ''You can practice it, but there's nothing like when it really happens. For us, you can truly say that this team is able to come out (on top). Not only are we able to come out, but we will come out. That's our thinking always.''