Rex Ryan returns to Ravens with no hard feelings

November 20th, 2013

FLORHAM PARK, NJ – After spending 10 years with the Ravens, Rex Ryan will return to Baltimore for just the second time since becoming the head coach of the New York Jets.

But things will be different for Ryan this time around. For perhaps the first time since being passed over as head coach of the Ravens, he will take to the sideline at M&T Bank Stadium at peace with how things ended.

In 2008, the Ravens went with John Harbaugh over Rex Ryan for head coach. On Sunday, Ryan will be more than at peace with that.

With almost five seasons under his belt, Ryan is a Jet, first and foremost – an ex-Raven second.

“I had a great experience [in Baltimore]. I spent 10 great years there, but this is my team, this is my team now,” Ryan said on Wednesday.

“I’ll always cherish the years that I had there without question. I have a lot of fond memories there, but right now I’m focused on building those memories here and that’s what it’s about.”

After starting the season on the hot seat, Ryan seems completely secure in his role as head football coach of the Jets. The Ravens? Well, they’re just his former employer, and he swears it’s all water under the bridge.

“I certainly didn’t take it personal, too bad, when it happened,” said Ryan, referring to the Ravens’ decision to hire current head coach John Harbaugh over him back in 2008.

“All I did was say, I’m going to do the best job I possibly can and I’m going to take it out on the league, that was my approach. That’s kind of what I did.”

It wasn’t always that way, as Ryan’s tune seems to have changed since the first two times the Jets played the Ravens, both losses, in 2010 and 2011.

“Was I bitter about not getting the head coaching job? Yeah, absolutely,” Ryan said before the Jets-Ravens game in 2011 – a game in which the Ravens sacked Mark Sanchez twice and recorded 10 quarterback hits, beating the Jets, 34-17, on Sunday Night Football.

Past relationships aside, Ryan is harping solely on football now, most importantly, getting back into the driver’s seat for the AFC’s final wild card slot. And the Ravens are just another roadblock on the way to that goal.

“Right after that loss to Buffalo, I was like it doesn’t matter who we play because we have to move on,” he said.

So, are there any hard feelings left? Quoth the raven, ‘Nevermore.’

“I was given this unbelievable opportunity and so that’s behind me,” Ryan said. “I have no hard feelings whatsoever with that organization, I mean none whatsoever.”

Jets sign safety Ed Reed

November 14th, 2013

FLORHAM PARK, NJ — The New York Jets announced Thursday morning that they have signed free agent safety Ed Reed a day after clearing waivers following his release from the Houston Texans.

Reed, a nine-time Pro-Bowler, Defensive Player of the Year in 2004 and future Hall-of-Famer, will be at practice with the Jets on Thursday and is available to play in the team’s game on Sunday against the Buffalo Bills.

The Jets' brass took a flier on future Hall-of-Fame safety Ed Reed, who will be at practice on Thursday and in Buffalo on Sunday.

To make room on the roster for Reed, the Jets also announced the release of outside linebacker Ricky Sapp.

Head coach Rex Ryan hinted on Wednesday that he’d like to have a reunion with Reed, whom he coached for seven seasons while with the Ravens.

“Look, the way I am, I could say absolutely yes. I would like [Reed] on our team. And I’ll say that knowing that you guys know me,” Ryan told reporters on Wednesday, mentioning that he’d also like to have back Ray Lewis, Alan Faneca and Trevor Pryce among others.

Now the reunion is a reality.

The veteran safety will join a Jets secondary that has struggled at times, ranking 14th in league in pass defense according to Football Outsiders. Reed will play alongside former Raven and teammate Dawan Landry, the up-and-coming Antonio Allen and Jaiquawn Jarrett, but his playing time for Sunday remains unknown.

Reed signed a three-year, $15 million contract with Houston in the offseason before undergoing hip surgery, missing the first two games, losing his starting job and then ultimately getting cut. He has no interceptions, no pass breakups and 16 tackles on the season.

“He’s going to land somewhere and create havoc. I’d love to have him here,” said Jets tight end Kellen Winlsow on Wednesday, who was a teammate of Reed’s while at the University of Miami.

Now, the hope is Reed will reek havoc for the Jets.

Facing the Bills will be ‘personal’ for David Nelson

November 13th, 2013

FLORHAM PARK, NJ — Jets wide receiver David Nelson still has fond memories of Buffalo, NY.

“I’m a Duffs guy,” he joked with Jets Insider, referring to the city’s famous wing joint. “I went to Duffs probably twice a week. I miss Buffalo for that reason, for the food.”

As for Buffalo’s football team, well, the memories are a little more stale.

“Anybody who tells you that when they play an old team or a team that cut them, that it’s just another game, is lying to you,” Nelson said. “Because this is definitely more than just another game for me.”

Sunday’s divisional game against the Bills will be the first time Nelson is back in Buffalo, the place where he started his career as an undrafted rookie out of the University of Florida in 2010, since the Bills decided not to tender him a one-year deal back in February.

Nelson was in the process of rehabbing an ACL injury, which he sustained in Week 1 of the 2012 season against the Jets, when he got the news that he would not be returning to Buffalo.

“I found out through Twitter, like a lot of other things in life,” he said.

The Bills didn’t notify him or his agent before the wide receiver got the news while at a Chicago Blackhawks game.

“Because of the way it kind of ended, it’s still a little difficult for me to swallow,” he said. “But at the same time, I’m glad to be here. I consider it a true blessing to be here and I’m glad the way it worked out.”

Nelson has been a pleasant surprise for the Jets this season since signing as a patchwork free agent on Oct. 2, catching 13 passes for 179 yards in three games.

In that time, he’s managed to play himself into an important role on the Jets offense, becoming one of Geno Smith’s most consistent targets, considering the glut of injuries and the suspension of Kellen Winslow.

“The fact that he’s able to pick up an offense in the short amount of time that he did, that’s very impressive. It speaks volumes about the teachers that you have in there … those guys do a great job, but it tells you about him. It tells you about the person,” said head coach Rex Ryan. “He put it upon himself to really learn it and I think that’s really, really impressive. I know he gained all the respect in the world from all his teammates.”

So, with the backing of his new teammates, Nelson will prepare to face his old ones on Sunday and he’s not holding back.

“This isn’t just another game for me,” he said. “It’s going to be personal and I think you’ll see that on Sunday.”

Folk-lore: Jets’ kicker having a magical season

November 6th, 2013

FLORHAM PARK, NJ – Just before every kick, Nick Folk takes three paces back, two paces to the side, plants his feet and then twists to his right.

Three, two, plant, twist. It’s his routine and it’s working.

Nick Folk has been one of many pleasant surprises for the Jets this season, kicking a perfect 23-for-23 heading into the bye week.

“Some guys have their own special pre-kick routine, that’s mine,” Folk told Jets Insider before last Sunday’s game against New Orleans. “I want to make sure that’s consistent so I know I’m starting in the same spot to give myself that best chance to make the kick.”

Folk then went on to make four more field goals in a victory over the Saints four more field goals in a victory over the Saints, connecting from 39, 21, 47 and 45 yards out and accounting for 14 of the Jets 26 points. Anyone who does sports betting online knows that Nick Folk has been money this season.

“You’re talking about ‘Folk Hero?’” joked head coach Rex Ryan after the game. “Guys, how about that year? Geez.”

“It’s not that it’s a given, but it’s like ‘Go ahead Folk Hero. Knock it through. Let’s go, and then get that kick-off coverage ready.’ It almost feels like that. I’ve been around some really good kickers in my day, but the year he is having is absolutely phenomenal.”

‘Folk Hero’ is the name Ryan has adopted for his prized kicker, a name he has repeated over and over, big kick after big kick.

In total, Folk has had to “three, two, plant, twist” 23 times this season, and 23 times the Jets have gotten three points.

He’s been perfect, there’s no other way to spin it.

“Anytime you can be consistent playing this game it’s a big help for our team. I just want to do whatever I can,” said Folk. “These guys put so much effort, time, blood, sweat and tears into this that I want to do my part to make sure that they’re getting the satisfaction of winning as many times as we possibly can.”

Including the streak, which at 23 straight is one away from Jay Feely’s franchise record, Folk has kicked three game winning field goals this season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Atlanta Falcons and rival New England Patriots.

In the offseason, Folk actually modified his training regiment to kick less often during the week in an attempt to stay fresh during the year.

And by the looks of it, the change is paying dividends.

“We can keep going forward, keep progressing with [the training change] so that we can stay fresh throughout the course of the year and not go into Miami at the end of the year and be dead tired or go into a playoff run and be dead tired, we can keep that momentum going,” said Folk. “When you’re not tired, you’re not over-kicking, over-swinging and you can still make the long field goals, kick a kickoff deep, kick some touchbacks.”

In a season marked by inconsistency, especially on offense, Folk has been the Jets’ rock, twice winning AFC special teams player of the week. It’s funny to think that just this offseason the Jets brought in Dan Carpenter and Billy Cundiff to compete for Folk’s job.

In the midst of his best season as a professional, Folk hasn’t let the pressure get to him, falling back on his routine and letting it rip. Three, two, plant, twist. Nothing else.

“Nothing. I’m serious. I couldn’t tell you,” said Folk about what’s goes through his head before each big kick.

“I block everything out. I try to embrace the pressure part of it but not think about anything. I don’t want to have any swing thoughts where you’re complicating things. I want to keep it as simple as possible and kick the ball through the yellow poles, that’s the plan.”

Three, two, plant, twist.

Preview: Jets (4-4) vs. New Orleans Saints (6-1)

October 31st, 2013

FLORHAM PARK, NJ – The Jets have keep a pretty consistent win-loss, win-loss pattern going this season, so if it holds, they should pull off a thrilling victory over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

But as against the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots, teams the Jets have upset so far this season, conventional wisdom isn’t in their favor.

The forecast will be grim for the Jets, whose struggling secondary must face off against the Saints and the third best passing offense in the league, a squad led by Drew Brees and a variety of weapons, including All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham, a position the Jets have struggled to defend this season.

The Saints’ defense is also vastly improved under Rex Ryan’s brother, Rob Ryan, a unit that is ranked seventh in the league in total defense, up from 32nd a year ago. “I think the two guys, in my opinion, that are doing the best job in this league are Bob Sutton in Kansas City and then my brother in New Orleans. I don’t even think it’s close,” said Rex on Monday.

Add it all up and the Saints are 6-1 since the return of head coach Sean Payton from his suspension, making the Jets 6.5 point home underdogs this weekend.

The again, the Saints don’t really have an impressive lineup of victories (Tampa Bay, Atlanta, Miami, Buffalo) and their only loss came against the Patriots who, as we know, just lost to the Jets.

So you’re telling me there’s a chance …

After a crushing loss to the Bengals, it's only natural that the Jets would pull out a win against the Saints. But will they?

When: Sunday, November 3, 2013, 1:00 p.m. EST (TV-FOX Radio-ESPN NY, 98.7 FM)

Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ

Injury Report (as of Thursday):


Did not practice: G Willie Colon (calf), TE Jeff Cumberland (concussion), RB Alex Green (hamstring), WR Santonio Holmes (hamstring)

Limited: WR Stephen Hill (foot), C Nick Mangold (ribs), WR David Nelson (quadricep)


Did not practice: G Jahri Evans (hip), S Malcolm Jenkins (knee)

Limited: WR Marques Colston (knee), TE Jimmy Graham (foot), S Roman Harper (knee), DE Tom Johnson (hip), DE Cameron Jordan (ankle), S Kenny Vaccaro (concussion, back), DT Tyrunn Walker (knee)

Watch to watch for:

Secondary education: Rookie cornerback Dee Milliner made all the headlines this week after his poor performance and subsequent benching against the Bengals. Quarterback Andy Dalton completed four of five passes with a perfect 158.3 passer rating when throwing in Milliner’s direction, but Rex stressed patience when critiquing the team’s ninth overall pick. “I will say this, by the time the season’s over, I think he will be the best rookie corner and playing better than any rookie corner in this year’s draft. I don’t think there’s any doubt,” Ryan said. It’s far too early to declare Milliner a bust and even after two benchings this season the Jets secondary has bigger problems than just Milliner. By his own admission, All-Pro Antonio Cromartie is having a down year after a Pro-Bowl campaign a year ago and with Brees rolling into town the secondary won’t be getting a break. If the Bengals can throw for 323 yards and five touchdowns, imagine what the Saints will do if the Jets don’t find a quick fix.

Resurrecting the pass rush: Putting pressure on the quarterback hasn’t been an issue for the Jets this season, until last week that is. The Jets managed only one sack and one quarterback hit against the Bengals, allowing Dalton to have a career day. If the Jets are to have any success against the Saints, they must put pressure on Brees. The also must prove that last week was nothing more than a fluke. The Jets defense is at their best when they’re getting to the quarterback. When they aren’t, the secondary is exposed and, well, it isn’t pretty. There’s no need to push the panic button just yet, the Jets are still sixth in the league with 25 sacks, led mostly by their dominant defensive line. Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson is the premier guy, tallying seven sacks, right up there amongst the league leaders and already a career high.

Offensive injuries: Injuries are always an issue, but this week the Jets will be especially thin on the offensive side of the ball. Although it hasn’t been confirmed, tight end Jeff Cumberland will most likely be out with a concussion, leaving Konrad Reuland and Patriots cast-off Zach Sudfeld as the only active tight ends in the wake of Kellen Winslow’s suspension. Yes, you read that correctly. Ouch. On top of that, Santonio Holmes (hamstring) will also most likely be out through the bye week, giving his hamstring ample time to get right. Making matters worse, guard Willie Colon hasn’t practiced all week with a calf injury, although he says he’s expecting to play.


Will the real Geno Smith please stand up (again)? Geno Smith will continue to be the x-factor for the Jets until further notice. When he plays well, the Jets find ways to win. When he doesn’t they don’t. It’s not really that simple, but it is. Smith has show flashes of being a very successful NFL quarterback, who can stretch defenses with his arm and extend plays with his legs. He’s in the top half of the league in yards (1,882) and yards per attempt (7.44) but top three in the league in interceptions (13) and top two in sacks (28). As Geno rolls, so do the Jets.

Prediction: You’d like to think the Jets will maintain their win-loss trend, at least for this week, but it just doesn’t seem likely. Not with a struggling secondary against Drew Brees and a banged up supporting class around Geno Smith. The Jets head into their Week 10 bye with a loss to the Saints, 31-17.

Rex Ryan deserves a contract extension

October 30th, 2013

FLORHAM PARK, NJ – On the heels of the second worst defeat in the Rex Ryan era, a 40-point drubbing by the Cincinnati Bengals, the Jets brass should be certain of one thing: their coach deserves a contract extension.

What? Not what you were expecting?

The timing might come off as a little premature, but now, just as the Jets roller coaster season hits its all-time low, is the actually the perfect time to remind the Jets and their fans what they have.

A good coach.

Woody Johnson and John Idzik will have some tough decisions to make this offseason but extending Rex Ryan shouldn't be one of them.

One loss, no matter how ugly, doesn’t change what Ryan has done for this team. Despite Sunday’s loss, the Jets are still 4-4. They’re still in second place in the AFC East and still technically right in the thick of playoff contention.

No one thought the Jets would be in that position halfway through the season. No one. ESPN ranked the Jets 32nd in their power rankings coming into the year, with most people expecting the Jets to get their fourth victory in December, certainly not in October, if at all.

No one, that is, except Ryan.

“A lot has been said about this football team,” Ryan said, quite defiantly, before the season started. “There are a lot of non-believers out there.”

But it’s not the confidence that Ryan should be commended for. It’s his ability to coach football.

People seem to forget Ryan’s back-to-back AFC Championship games in 2009 and 2010 and that his defense, despite an decrease in talent, has managed to crack the top 10 every year he’s been at the helm.

Now, factor in the massive decreases in offensive talent over his tenure, the trading away of his best player (Darrelle Revis), the shifty locker room personalities the Jets imported by the bucket load, the circus that was Tim Tebow, and the fact that there’s no denying Mark Sanchez is a bad quarterback and Ryan might actually deserve a raise.

Last week, Woody Johnson said that he wouldn’t discuss Ryan’s contract situation during the season but added, “I’m happy with him. I think he’s a great teacher, a good teacher, maybe a great teacher, and a good leader.”

Ryan, too, has remained coy about his future: “I like the fact my boss said some nice things about me, that’s pretty cool. As far as anything else, I said it before and you guys get tired of me saying it, it’s not about me.”

It may not be about him just yet, but it will be.

Ryan’s $3 million per year contract runs out after this season, a sign that many interpreted as one last lame duck season for the defensive guru. But if Johnson and general manager John Idzik have any sense, they’ll run with the combo of Ryan and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg while building through the draft.

No matter how this season turns out, Ryan deserves another shot because he’s remains the Jets best shot.

Cromartie’s next big test: shutting down AJ Green

October 25th, 2013

FLORHAM PARK, NJ – Somewhere along the line, Antonio Cromartie became a veteran, someone who has been around the block long enough to recognize talent when he sees it.

And it’s safe to say, the 29-year-old Cromartie sees something in Cincinnati Bengal’s wide receiver AJ Green.

Antonio Cromartie faces his biggest test of the season in Cincinnati Bengals star wide receiver AJ Green.

“[Green reminds me] a lot of Randy Moss, I would say he’s that type of receiver just because how he attacks the ball down the field,” said Cromartie. “And also a little bit of Calvin Johnson.”

That’s high praise for a player in his third season, but Green is a dynamic playmaker with the 6-foot-4 frame to go up and get the ball, breakaway speed (4.5 second, 40-yard dash) and the versatility to play outside or shift into the slot.

“What does [Cromartie] need to do?” joked defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman. “Put his hands on him and pray.”

Green is currently top-10 in the league with 43 receptions, 619 yards receiving and five touchdowns along with seven catches longer than 20 yards, 204 YAC and a 155 yard, one touchdown performance against the Detroit Lions last Sunday.

“He’s a great receiver for that team and he’s one of the best receivers in the NFL right now in our league,” said Cromartie. “They want to try to get the ball to him. The thing for us is just to be patient and try to take [our] time, pick and choose, just try to be physical and just go out there and play football, make plays on the ball when the ball’s on the field.”

After turning in his best game of the season against the New England Patriots, holding Kenbrell Thompkins to 11 yards on one reception, Cromartie will get his latest test as the Jets No. 1 cornerback in Green.

“What does the kid not have? He has size, speed, athleticism, route running [and a] great catching radius,” head coach Rex Ryan said of Green. “Like I said, in my opinion, he’s probably the best receiver in the AFC. There are some good receivers, but in my opinion, he’s probably the best.”

The silver lining for Ryan, however, is there probably isn’t a corner in the league, aside from maybe Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks, who has the talent and measurables to handle Green better than Cromartie.

“We’re almost about the same height so that’s the only difference that’s going to be out there,” said Cromartie. “He’s not facing a 5-foot-11 DB, he’s facing a 6-foot-2, 6-foot-3 DB.”

The challenge may come for Cromartie when Green shifts into the slot, a place where the Bengals like to put him from time to time  a place where Cromartie is not used to, but certainly not afraid of playing.

“I can play anywhere,” said Cromartie. “I can play any position they need me to play, slot, outside, so that doesn’t bother me at all.”

Cromartie is having an up and down year by his standards, grading his performance a “C” in the wake of his Pro Bowl season a year ago.

However, Cromartie is by far the best shot the Jets have at slowing down Green on Sunday, as Ryan joked on Wednesday, “Well, we’re not going to put Snacks [Damon Harrison] on him.”

Rex Ryan on Belichick’s pushing accusation: ‘That’s not true’

October 23rd, 2013

FLORHAM PARK, NJ – Rex Ryan fired back at Bill Belichick on Wednesday, responding to a claim by the the Patriots coach that the Jets used the same illegal pushing tactic that New England was penalized for on Sunday.

“That’s not true. That’s not true,” said Ryan, who has, for the most part, played nice with the Patriots this season.

Rex Ryan wasn't buying Bill Belichick's accusations on Wednesday, saying the Patriots coach needs to, "make up his mind" about the Sunday's pushing penalty.

With a win against the division rival securely under his belt, however, Ryan appeared to be done playing games. Now, he wants the credit.

“He’s got to make up his mind,” Ryan said of Belichick. “Was he aware of this thing? Was it at the second level? All this kind of jazz.”

“Now, the story is we did it. Okay, gotchya,” he shot back. ”The fact is, we’re moving on. We earned that victory, plain and simple. We’re focused on Cincinnati.”

In a conference call with the New England media on Tuesday, Belichick was asked about a report saying the Jets told officials to keep an eye on the Patriots during field goal attempts. Belichick dismissed the question while throwing one last jab at the Jets.

“Well, I mean, since they were using the play themselves, I don’t even know about all that. But basically we’re just moving on here.”

It might be a stretch, but Belichick is most likely referring to Quinton Coples’ push of Muhammad Wilkerson during Stephen Gostkowski’s 44-yard field goal at the end of regulation. During the play, it appears as though Coples reaches out his right forearm and shoves Wilkerson forward.

However, officials were standing within five yards of the play and held onto their flags.

Regardless, Coples’ shove was nowhere near as obvious or intentional as Patriots defensive tackle Chris Jones’ in overtime.

The Jets and Patriots won’t meet again this season, unless both teams find there back to each other in the playoffs, but when they do it’s never dull.

We can now officially add “PushGate” to their storied rivalry.

Jets activate David Garrard, release Brady Quinn

October 21st, 2013

FLORHAM PARK, NJ – The Jets announced Monday that they will indeed active quarterback David Garrard to the 53-man roster, releasing quarterback Brady Quinn in the process.

The writing was on the wall for Quinn when the Jets decided to bring Garrard back for a two game “tryout” period, in which he was kept on the exempt list to see if he was healthy enough to play. In the end, the Jets bring back the quarterback they wanted all along to mentor rookie Geno Smith.

General manager John Idzik signed Garrard during the offseason, with the possibility of him competing for the starting job behind Smith and Mark Sanchez, but the veteran was forced to retire during minicamp because of chronic knee problems.

Still, time spent on the shelf (and playing flag football with his wife) allowed Garrard to get healthy, never losing the itch to play.

“When I left, I knew I just needed time to get away, and let my body heal up,” said Garrard upon returning. “My knee was truly bothering me. I just took the whole summer and relaxed. I didn’t do anything. I didn’t do any kind of conditioning.”

“I don’t want to turn 50 one day and think back and say, ‘what if I just called somebody,’” he said.

Looks like he made the right choice.

Jets grab controversial win over Patriots in OT

October 20th, 2013

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – A rule’s a rule.

Bill Belichick may not like it. The fans may not have known it existed. But for Rex Ryan and the New York Jets, a controversial call may have just saved their season.

Winless in their last five games against New England, the Jets managed to claw their way into a 30-27 overtime victory at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, thanks in part to a bounce-back game from rookie Geno Smith, a timely pick-6 and a new NFL rule regarding field goals.

Rule, to be exact.

Chris Ivory rushed for 104 yards and the Jets defeated the rival Patriots, 30-27, in overtime on Sunday.

It’s a rule, brand new to the NFL in 2013, that states: “Players cannot push teammates on the line of scrimmage into the offensive formation” and it came into effect on the game’s deciding play.

After failing to convert on a crucial overtime third down at the New England 38-yard line, the Jets elected to send Nick Folk out for a would-be game winning, 58-yard field goal.

“We had ‘Folk Hero’ and we thought maybe we could pop one on them,” said Ryan after the game.

Instead, it went wide left, setting up Tom Brady with a second chance and a short field, needing only a field goal to cap off the victory.

Then the flags flew.

The call on the field was unsportsmanlike conduct, a 15-yard penalty, on Patriot’s defensive tackle Chris Jones for pushing his teammate into the formation. The Jets retained possession, ran the ball three more times and Folk kicked a much more manageable 42-yarder for the win.

Belichick was irate on the sideline, fans in the stadium were on their feet and the press box was abuzz with people saying, “What in the world just happened?”

“We have probably talked about it before,” said Jones. “It slipped my mind at the time. Now I know it. I just have to keep that in mind during the up coming games so I don’t make that mistake again.”

The real kicker (pun intended) is that this was the first case ever of the rule actually being enforced.

“We’ll take it,” said Ryan, head coach of the now second place, 4-3, New York Jets, a team that many people wrote off as one of the worst in the league before the season started.

“We don’t care how people look at us as long as the fans know that this team right here is going to compete every single day,” said Ryan. “We’re certainly much better than what people thought. I guess that’s not hard to be, we were picked 32nd, I think. But I think we’re better than that.”

Geno Smith went 17 for 33 for 233 passing yards, 32 rushing yards, a rushing touchdown and a passing touchdown.

The rookie’s only mistake came on a forced pass to David Nelson in the first quarter that resulted in a 79-yard pick-6 by Logan Ryan.

“I think this one means a little bit more to us,” said Smith. “You could just get that feeling in the locker room and around the community. Everyone knows about this rivalry.”

Running back Chris Ivory was a work horse grinding out 104 yards on the ground and Jeremy Kerley was money on third down, going for 97-yards and a touchdown pass. David Nelson added four catches for 80 yards.

Antonio Allen played great in coverage against star tight end Rob Gronkowski, deflecting two passes and returning an interception for a touchdown early in the second half.

“We knew we needed a turnover,” said Allen. “We were trying to get one … We knew we had to force a turnover in order to win the game.”

The Jets travel to Cincinnati next week to face the 5-2 Bengals, starting a stretch that also includes the New Orleans Saints and division rival Bills and could very well ignite or extinguish New York’s playoff hopes.

“It’s a big push. That is a division team,” said Kerley of the Patriots. “We definitely want to get up in the division but a win like that against an opponent like that is a big motivation and hopefully a drive for the next some odd games.”