Jets QB Brett Favre and Head Coach Eric Mangini relish the win last night after defeating New England 34-31 in overtime. (Jets Insider.com Photos)
Well Jets fans, your prayers were heard and they were answered. After a to-close-to-call 34-31 overtime victory against the Patriots last night, Gang Green is in sole possession of first place in the AFC East for the first time since 2004 when they began the year 5-0 going into a matchup against New England. They lost that game 13-7.
But enough about the past. Let’s focus on the present. Thursday night’s game is now for the late-night bedtime stories with the Jets (7-3), although barely, doing something that has been preached my head coach Eric Mangini since he came to the Jets in 2006: play from the first quarter to the last. To finish the game. To stick it to the opponent between the lines.
“I was proud the way we finished the game,” Mangini said via conference call on Friday. “What I liked about it is as happy as everybody was [with the victory], it’s still the intention to stick to the things that need to get corrected. That’s really important.”
It better be. The Jets let up 18 second half points, with the biggest coming from QB Matt Cassel hitting WR Randy Moss on an out route from the Jets 16-yard line with 00:08 left to play to send the game into overtime. The passing defense for Gang Green looked atrocious and if they expect to compete against the undefeated Tennessee Titans next Sunday, they have to tighten the ship on the secondary side. Cassel threw for over 400 yards last night so the Jets definitely have their work cut out for them.
“A lot of the teams that we play are very good over the course of those six games,” Mangini said of the coming weeks. “What I’ve been seeing a lot more is that we can play the type of complimentary football. I know I say it all the time but it’s so important.”
There’s a ton of football left to play. With the Titans up next, they’re followed by Denver, at San Francisco, Buffalo, at Seattle, and cap off the season against Miami. So theoretically, it’s almost logical to say that the Jets could win four possibly five out of the next six games. But then again, anyone can beat anyone on Sunday (see St. Louis against Washington a few weeks back).
Most of the discussion today focused on QB Brett Favre and that he said that he was nervous during overtime last night. Mangini said that Favre instills confidence in the group and there’s a sense of ease when he has the ball in his hands. Well, he has 12 interceptions this year so the ease must be growing after last night’s performance.
“It’s always amazing when you hear great players that have done something tons and tons of times talk about the nervousness they have is a great reminder that everyone feels the same way,” he said. “And your ability to face that nervousness or butterflies or whatever it is and still execute is good for the young guys that are here.”
Brett Favre: a perennial NFL quarterback, first ballot hall of famer, owner of countless passing records still gets nervous. Imagine how he’ll feel against the Titans next week. The Titans defense is tied for second in the league for interceptions. It’s safe to say that Favre needs to play the roll of game manager and not try to do too much with so little if the run game falters and his receivers have trouble getting in open space.
“To me that was more of a confident nervous,” RB Leon Washington said. “It’s one of those feelings that I can assume that when you’re playing football in little league but when Brett said that he was nervous I thought it was more of a confidence thing. When he has the ball in his hands at the end of a game, you have a chance to win.”
Indeed they do. Favre put together a classic overtime drive, with a key third and 15 conversion with a crossing route to recently awaken TE Dustin Keller. He’ll need more of those, plus plays like WR Jerricho Cotchery’s David Tyree-esque helmet catch to dethrone the unbeaten Titans.
“It was a good opportunity for us to go down the field and I just wanted to do everything in my power to make that catch,” Cotchery said. “I couldn’t get my other hand to the ball so I just tried to make sure to get the ball close to me and try to hold on to the ball.”
Asked if he practiced that catch all week:
“Yes,” he said with a laugh. “I’m just thankful I was able to make that play at that time. You just want to do anything in your power to make that play.”
The irony of it. In two important games for both teams, New York receivers (Giants and Jets) made clutch catches that played key roles in a victory over New England which both ended in with a three point difference.
So has this victory sunk in for Gang Green? It’s without a doubt one of the biggest wins in recent memory.
“We understood before the game what type of magnitude the game had,” Cotchery said. “The Buffalo game was a big game for us and so was the St. Louis game. “To be able to pull out that victory last night was another big step for us and now we’ll get to move on and focus on the Tennessee game.”
RB Leon Washington said he received 25 voicemails following the victory over New England with praise and congratulations. WR Jerricho Cotchery said he gets texts every week good or bad and last night wasn’t any different.
Nugent and Feely both staying?
When asked what he will with the red-hot Jay Feely now that veteran K Mike Nugent is ready to return, Mangini said he hasn't made a decision yet but was not opposed to keeping both kickers on the roster.
Although it hasn't been confirmed by the team, JI sources say the players will have a well deserved five day hiatus and will have off until next Wednesday where then they will start practicing for the Titans.
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