Tom Brady and the big, bad Patriots will be coming to MetLife Stadium on Sunday with the intention of reminding the Jets they’re not supposed to be a good football team this season. Three straight wins, including a 17-14 triumph against the Browns on Sunday, puts the Jets at 3-2 and in a three-way tie in the AFC East with the Pats and Bills.
Of course, the Jets could easily be 1-4 if not from some fortuitous breaks against the Jaguars and the Browns, but at this point, the Jets would rather be lucky than good.
Let’s face it. The Jets didn’t play their best game Sunday. They finished with just 212 total yards on offense, their fewest under head coach Todd Bowles, and after rushing for 256 yards against the Jaguars a week earlier, they managed just 34 against the Browns. The Jets also were 0-for-5 in the first half on third-down conversions, but managed to own a 3-0 lead at the break thanks to a 57-yard field goal by Chandler Catanzaro and the Browns being the Browns. Two red-zone turnovers and two missed field goals left Cleveland scoreless at the half.
“We definitely stole one there,” said safety Marcus Maye.
Tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins had a more big-picture view.
“That first half epitomizes what we’re really about,” he said. “Things didn’t really work out and it didn’t go perfectly, but at the end of the day when it counted the most we buckled down we made some plays that we needed and we were able to get a field goal. That was the biggest play of the first half.”
The Jets know they have lived a charmed life the last three weeks, beating a Dolphins team with a quarterback who arrived midway through camp and then dealt with Hurricane Irma, edging the travel-weary Jaguars in overtime after blowing a 10-point fourth-quarter lead, and then edging the struggling Browns, who also failed to convert on fourth-and-2 inside the Jets 5. Head coach Hue Jackson has a lot of work to do in Cleveland to keep his job, but the Jets aren’t about to apologize.
They credit themselves for the three turnovers they created and making the fourth-down stand that kept the Browns out of the end zone. For a young team, those are building blocks that have raised its confidence heading into Sunday’s game against New England.
“We just want to go out there and want to compete,” safety Jamal Adams said. “We’re not looking at the game any different than any others. Every game is a big game for us. In the NFL, it’s hard to win. We’re just going to battle. Anybody can be beat in this league. We just have to continue to get better.”
Few would have expected Sunday’s game against New England to be for first-place in the division, especially after the Jets dropped opening games to the Bills and the Raiders. When the season began, you figured the bigger game this week would be the Giants going out to Denver, but we know how that has worked out for Big Blue, now winless after five games.
Any hopes for an interesting New York football season now rests with the Jets, who have a 38-year-old journeyman quarterback in Josh McCown and two rookie safeties. The Jets are probably as curious as anyone to see how they’ll do against the Patriots.
“I don’t think anybody knows what this team is about and what we’re capable of,” wide receiver Jermaine Kearse said. “All that matters is what the guys in this locker room think. We’re all that matters and we’re all we need. That’s how we carry ourselves. Winning games in this league is hard. Everybody is a professional, but I think we’re finding out who we are in the midst of adversity. We just find a way to persevere and overcome.”
Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.