Had the NFL adopted its own version of college football's BCS, head coach Eric Mangini knows yesterday's win over the Bills might have come with additional baggage. The Jets did not walk off the Meadowlands turf yesterday while earning style points, but they did strut off with a big win.
"At this point in the season, the key thing is to get the win," Mangini said. "There are things that we've needed to improve every game of the season. There are things that we need to improve from this game.It's not like the BCS. We don't get voted down for style points."
The Jets weren't looking to appease anyone but themselves and they did just that with a season-saving 31-27 victory over the Bills. While the Jets knew their main objective heading into yesterday was to defeat their divisional rival and bring themselves one step closer to the playoffs, they did not hold any expectations. Mangini told his players prior to kickoff that he did not want them to go into the game with "any expectations on how the game's going to go." Instead he wanted his players to carry a winning expectation against the Bills.
"It was a sloppy win for us...but we came out to win the game no matter what," cornerback Darrelle Revis said.
The smiling faces that filled the Jets locker room following yesterday's win were more favorable than the blank expressions that covered the Jets' sidelines late in the fourth quarter. As the game clock crept closer toward the two-minute warning, a late-season collapse from the first-place Jets was moving closer toward reality. But with Shaun Ellis' rumble into the endzone, all that changed.
"It's amazing how just one call can change the whole course of the game That is why you play the game. Things can look so bleak for a certain point of the game and, all of a sudden, everything changes," offensive tackle Damien Woody said.
Woody explained that he did not see Ellis' touchdown during the game and he instead "heard the crowd going crazy" but after watching the replays on television, he said the play was "pretty amazing."
"The play itself was a pretty amazing play," Woody said. "The ball bounced the right way and the next thing you know Shaun is rumbling and bumbling in the endzone which was great to see happening."
Ellis, who viewed replays of his fumble recovery and ensuing 11-yard touchdown run on television, explained that he was still in "shock" over the play.
"A lot of things had to happen for [the touchdown] to happen," Ellis said.
While the win quickly changed the mood inside the Meadowlands from dismay to jubilation, the victory gave the Jets another life in a season that looked like it had taken a turn for the worst. Instead the Jets left the field yesterday in the same place that they had been three hours earlier; in a three-way tie atop the division.
"Right now our sprits are up," Ellis said. "We're rejuvenated a little bit."
Again, while the victory was not a thing of beauty from the Jets' perspective, they walked away with a big win late in the season. Now with just two games remaining, the Jets sit closer to their first division title since 2002.
"At this point in the year, all you want to do is just win so you can get in the tournament and have a chance to do the things that every team set up to do when you report back to offseason programs and that's winning a championship," Woody said.
The Jets still have a long road to reaching that dream, but yesterday surely helped.
Hodges "Needs to Improve"
After the Jets' Week Two loss to the Patriots, the Jets released punter Ben Graham after they remained disappointed in Graham's lack of hangtime on his punts. While Reggie Hodges was signed to provide the Jets more consistency on special teams, yesterday's performance certainly did not help his case. Hodges recorded an ugly 26.5 yard average on four punts yesterday. Mangini explained that Hodges "needs to improve" and did mention that the Jets' kick coverage did not help Hodges. The Jets allowed a 56 yard punt return by Roscoe Parrish and a 40 yard kick return by Leodis McKelvin.
A Disappointing Day in a Disappointing Season
Vernon Gholston disappointing rookie season took a surprising turn yesterday as he was ruled inactive. After being drafted sixth-overall back in April's draft, Gholston has recorded just 12 tackles in 13 games this season.
"That's the way it is," Mangini said when asked about the decision. "If you're one of those people on the 45 [man roster] we expect you to contribute."
Bills Came Out "Hungry" to Run
In the Jets' first meeting with the Bills which resulted in a 26-17 Jets win, Bills running back Marshawn Lynch was limited to just 16 yards rushing. Yesterday, Ellis said the Bills came "hungry" to change their fate.
"They just wanted to come out and establish the run against us," Ellis said. "They kept grabbing our arms and making it harder for us to tackle. It was relentless effort. [Marshawn Lynch] kept pursuing and kept his legs driving which made it even more difficult."
Jets Set to Take Positive Spin
The Jets will have an opportunity to avenge their winless record (0-3) on the West Coast when they travel to Seattle to face the 3-11 Seahawks. Cornerback Darrelle Revis knows the main objective is to simply stay positive.
"We know we have to go out to the West Coast. We know what it brings and what it has, and we have to have positive minds to go out there and execute on Sunday. We have been 0-3 [on the West Coast]. It hasn't been great for us, but we have to be positive," Revis said.
Jets Travel Hopes Grounded
On the Jets first three West Coast trips this season, they left on Friday rather than Saturday. But after going 0-3 in those games, the Jets were hoping to reverse their fortune and leave for Seattle on Saturday. However, they weren't able to change travel reservations that were booked at the start of the season. Mangini was asked if owner Woody Johnson had any pull with the airlines, to which he explained that he had not "addressed that specificially with [Woody]."