Big win has Jets feeling good: 'We know we're still in it'
NEW YORK (AP) The season was crumbling quickly for the New York Jets.
Four losses in five games had them scrambling for answers and desperate for a win. The playoff hopes that seemed like such a realistic scenario a month ago were fading away with each loss.
Then, the Miami Dolphins came to town - and the Jets revived their postseason chances with a 38-20 romp Sunday.
''We know we're still in it,'' quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said Monday. ''We also know there's not a lot of room for error.''
That's because the Jets are 6-5 and right on the edge of the playoff picture, currently sitting in seventh place in the AFC. They're behind Kansas City and Houston, and tied with Pittsburgh - all of whom are also 6-5, as is AFC South-leading Indianapolis,
Then there's Oakland and Buffalo, which are a game back at 5-6.
''There are so many teams that are lumped up right now, within a game of each other,'' Fitzpatrick said during a conference call, ''that we just need to continue to stack wins.''
Just getting one was a big enough task in itself.
The Jets' sluggish offense finally got going as Fitzpatrick had his best game with the team, throwing four touchdown passes, including two to Brandon Marshall, who also had his biggest performance with the team while finishing with nine catches for 131 yards.
The defense was downright stingy against the run, holding the Dolphins to a measly 12 yards - a franchise-low for New York - on nine rushes. Ryan Tannehill didn't do much in the passing game until late, when he threw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes, although Jarvis Landry had a career-best 13 catches for 165 yards and a score.
''We've still got to work on finishing,'' coach Todd Bowles said. ''I thought we gave up a cheap one at the end even though we were playing softer defense. We still have to make sure we get off the field and keep continuing to improve until the clock runs out.''
New York's maligned special teams unit chipped in, too, with Jeremy Kerley's 58-yard punt return setting up Eric Decker's touchdown catch that put the Jets up 21-0 early in the third quarter.
''I'm glad that we got back to playing our brand of football (Sunday),'' Fitzpatrick said. ''That had been lacking the last few weeks, but I don't think the confidence has wavered at all this year in terms of the team that we think that we have.''
Now, the Jets need to go out and prove it. Their season depends on it.
Next up: the Giants (5-6), their MetLife Stadium ''roommates'' who are coming off a brutal loss at Washington and need a victory themselves to keep pace in the NFC East.
''Each one of these games,'' Fitzpatrick said, ''as we continue to win, becomes more and more significant in terms of putting ourselves in a position to make the playoffs.''
The Giants were in a similar situation four years ago when the teams matched up the last time. They were 7-7 on Dec. 24, 2011, and appeared to be heading into halftime down 7-3 - until Eli Manning connected with Victor Cruz for a 99-yard touchdown.
The Giants ended up winning 29-14 and the Manning-Cruz play was pointed at as the moment their season turned around. New York beat Dallas the following week, made the playoffs and rolled all the way to a Super Bowl victory.
Meanwhile, the Jets lost at Miami in the regular-season finale and Rex Ryan's bunch was forced to watch the postseason from home.
Predictably, these Jets had very little to say about what they remembered about that last meeting.
''Nothing, to be honest with you,'' said Cromartie, who was one of a few Jets who missed tackle attempts on the Cruz play. ''We lost the game.''
Center Nick Mangold had a similar response.
''That's so long ago and, shoot, I assume there are only a handful of guys left that actually played in that game,'' Mangold said. ''It was so long ago that I don't think it has any bearing on this game. This is just the next step in our season here.''
Anything stand out to Mangold, though?
''I remember it being cold,'' he said. ''But other than that, it was a while ago.''
It's been a while since the Jets put together back-to-back wins, too. Not since beating Washington on Oct. 18 following a win over Miami and a bye.
A victory Sunday could set the Jets up for truly meaningful games in December, something that hasn't happened in a few years.
''It's just another step for us to get ourselves in the right direction,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''Get ourselves where we want to be.''
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