Rex Ryan might’ve been right that four years ago the Chargers could have given him a chance at the Super Bowl, but in yesterday’s 27-21 win, the Jets proved his current team gives the head coach a shot at winning one now.
“I think this was our team, the one we kind of envisioned at the start of the season,” Ryan said.
Midweek during a conference call with the San Diego media, Ryan said that he “would have had a couple rings” if he had been hired by the Chargers when he was a candidate for the job in 2007. Ryan’s Jets went onto the MetLife Stadium field on Sunday and played like anything but the inferior team in raising their record to 4-3, while showing glimpses of a team many thought would be Super Bowl contenders.
It was a statement game for the Jets, who have yet to have a signature win this season in a campaign that has gone anything but according to plan. But against the Chargers, who came into the game 4-1 and favored, the Jets overcame a 14-3 second quarter deficit for the win.
Despite the 24-6 win over Miami on Monday night, the memories of the three-game losing streak from Week 3 to Week 5 still remains all too fresh. The win over San Diego gives the Jets the moment they need to begin fulfilling their hope and promise, and perhaps now forget that losing streak that seemed to threaten their season.
“I think part of it still is we got to learn from it and then just never really forget. You don’t really pass it but you don’t want to feel that way again,” Wayne Hunter told Metro. “You don’t forget it but as far as we go as a unit and the offense working together, I think we’re past the three game losing streak.”
For three hours on Sunday afternoon, the focus was there. Even after their first drive of the game ended in a fumble with the Chargers putting seven points on the board and then especially when midway through the second quarter, the score was 14-3 and the boos came down on the team. Ryan said that there was “no panic, no chewing each other” among his team.
Instead, there was a second half that carried the Jets to their biggest win of the season, and their first over an opponent with a winning record.
“We’re going [into the bye] with a great foundation now; we’re feeling confident. We’re in a spot where we can build on this. I feel like we’re in a groove now,” guard Matt Slauson said. “Our confidence is really high; we’re playing at a high level now. We’re at a great, great spot where we can continue to build.”
Ryan said he expects to see San Diego again — prophesying a postseason match-up — but for the moment, all these Jets care about is how they head into their bye week.
“This is huge going into the bye, winning two straight, continuing to stay undefeated at home,” Tomlinson said. “We plan on going undefeated at home, winning all the home games and winning a few on the road. We’ve stayed true to form.”
What went right …
1. Plax on Track
After just one reception on Monday night, the Jets fed a steady diet of balls to Plaxico Burress. Perhaps the philosophy was in part to placate the star, but Burress created match-up problems all day for the Chargers. His three touchdowns in the red zone were why the Jets brought him in this past August. None was more clutch than with 8:41 in the fourth quarter as Burress rose over cornerback Antoine Cason for the go-ahead touchdown. Now, with a bye week, there is a chance for Burress to recover and ready himself for the stretch run.
2. Gang Greene
Running back Shonn Greene came into the game averaging 3.4 yards per carry and with the Jets’ infamous “Ground & Pound” ranked in the bottom half of all rushing offenses. But Greene stepped up, rattling off several long runs and being a consistent presence in moving the chains. There wasn’t a touchdown, but his 112 yards on 20 carries were strong numbers given the fact that the Jets were in comeback mode for much of the game.
3. Welcome to Revis Island
Vincent Jackson was unable to handle a Philip Rivers pass with 10:56 left in the fourth quarter, when the Chargers had a manageable third down. Waiting in the shadows was Darrelle Revis to make the interception and return the ball 64 yards to San Diego’s 17-yard line. The moment stopped the Chargers drive and swung momentum to the Jets for the first time all game. Six players later, Burress had his third touchdown of the game and the Jets their first lead.
What went wrong …
1. Keller Loses His Grip
Without their offense even stepping on the field, San Diego went up early when the Jets gifted them a touchdown before many fans at MetLife Stadium even settled into their seats. After three-straight run plays, quarterback Mark Sanchez, under pressure, found Dustin Keller over the middle for what should have been a Jets first down. But as Keller was being tackled, Chargers inside linebacker Donald Butler stripped the Jets tight end, returning the ball 37 yards for a quick 7-0 lead. Not the start the Jets wanted.
2. Mangold’s Handful
It looked like the Jets were set to go up after some early struggles. The Jets were down 7-3 late in the first quarter when Sanchez floated a perfect pass over the top of the San Diego secondary to Santonio Holmes in the end zone — a play where the receiver went full extension to make the snag. It looked like the Jets had taken the lead, but the play was called back for a Nick Mangold holding call. Two plays later, Sanchez locked in on Burress in the end zone and was intercepted by Eric Weddle. The Jets had two turnovers on their first three drives, dooming them to play catch-up until the fourth quarter.
3. Chargers Make Them Pay
From the Sanchez turnover, the Chargers picked up another touchdown. Marching down the field, Philip Rivers orchestrated a 14-play, 76 yard drive that ate 6:28 off the clock. Capping off the drive Rivers connected with tight end Antonio Gates for a two-yard touchdown pass. It was a drive that frustrated the Jets defense, who had no answer for what San Diego was throwing at them and it put the Chargers clearly in the driver’s seat for the rest of the first half.
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.