After years of receiving coal in their stocking, New York Jets fans finally got a gift - Sunday's 26-20 overtime win over the New England Patriots - reinstating their belief in Santa Claus. It was a deflating loss for the Patriots to their divisional rival as the Jets, who with a win in Week 17 will book their playoff ticket for the first time since 2010.
Or, to reinvent the old axiom, it is more blessed to receive than to kick.
Following four quarters that the Jets dominated, only to give up the lead late in the game, the Patriots won the coin toss at the start of overtime and one of the team captains, Matt Slater, shouted out that they wanted to kick-off. This falls very much in line with the Patriots usual rationale of choosing to defer and let other teams receive first.
But in overtime, the first team to score a touchdown automatically wins the game and Slater's quick reaction to the coin toss, which he tried moments later to change, cost his team the game. The Jets would go on a five-play, 80-yard drive that was keyed by big catches from tight end Quincy Enunwa and wide receiver Brandon Marshall, capped off by a five-yard touchdown catch on a fade route by Eric Decker.
In hindsight, the Patriots would want to give their quarterback, Tom Brady, the ball first and let him try to win the game. But Slater's call blew things for his team and improved the Jets to 10-5, the first time since 2010 that they have double-digit wins in a season.
The Fitzmagic of the Season – He did it again.
The Jets have now won five in a row since Ryan Fitzpatrick trimmed his beard, a span where he has thrown 13 touchdowns and one interception. He has limited mistakes (Fitzpatrick did have a third quarter fumble that the Patriots ran in for a touchdown) and been smart moving the ball down the field. He is closing in on an all-time great statistical season for the Jets and has utilized the weapons at his disposal.
Fitzpatrick finished this game 26-for-41 for 296 yards with three touchdowns. He also had two rushes for 13 yards.
Gronk Was Zonk'd – He still made big plays, Rob Gronkowski always will have his fair share of big plays, but the Jets kept the best tight end of his generation very much under wraps. Gronkowski had four catches for 86 yards but was kept out of the end zone, a big reason why the Jets defense was able to keep the Patriots to just 20 points, tied for their lowest output of the year.
Head coach Todd Bowles said that his team tried to confuse coverages to limit Gronkowski's effectiveness.
The Jets also brought a lot of pressure in this game, dialing up blitzes between the 'A Gap' and the 'B Gap' to pressure quarterback Tom Brady into a long afternoon.
Powell States His Case – This year, all the talk in the backfield has been about running back Chris Ivory, and rightly so as the dreaded one has pieced together a tremendous season. But Sunday saw running back Bilal Powell piece together a nice day, with seven carries for 56 yards and five catches for 34 yards. They were important yards with Ivory struggling to get going and helped keep the offense on the field.
Powell was the first player signed by first-year general manager Mike Maccagnan and head coach Todd Bowles. With performances like this over the past month, it's looking like he's going to get a new deal somewhere.