The Jets are for real.
A 30-27 overtime win over the rival Patriots on Sunday afternoon proved that a team supposed to be in a rebuilding season could be playoff caliber. The win not only breathed hope into their postseason ambitions but also snapped a five-game losing streak to their divisional foe.
Lifted by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty by the Patriots on a 56-yard field goal attempt missed by Nick Folk, the Jets took the ball 57 yards on their first possession of overtime to set up Folk's 42-yard field goal for the win.
After the Jets (4-3) took an early 7-0 lead on the game's opening possession, the Patriots responded with a touchdown drive of their own. The scoring play coming from Brandon Bolden's 1-yard touchdown run. Then on what looked like a promising drive, quarterback Geno Smith threw a pick-six to former Rutgers cornerback Logan Ryan, who ran it back 79 yards for a 14-7 Patriots lead. New England took a 21-10 lead into halftime via a Stevan Ridley 17-yard touchdown run. But the Jets emerged a different team after halftime.
Antonio Allen had an interception — just the team's second interception all season — and subsequent 23-yard touchdown return to key the comeback. Down 21-17 early in the third quarter, the Jets forced a three-and-out then took the game over with a methodical drive, ended by Smith's 8-yard touchdown run. The 24-21 score was the Jets' first lead since the opening possession of the game.
The Jets were highly effective in confusing Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who rarely looked in sync with his young and inexperienced wide receivers. It was a very un-Brady like day from the Patriots quarterback, who orchestrated a brilliant comeback last week only to see his late-game heroics to tie the game this week go for naught.
Smith finished the game 17-of-33 for 233 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Tough tests lie ahead for the Jets, with games at the Bengals and home against the Saints before the bye week. Both teams are in first place in their respective divisions.
What went right ...
1. Nelson plays big
You have to like what the Jets got from David Nelson, who they signed two weeks ago as a free agent to bolster a thin group of wide receivers. Not a whole lot was expected of Nelson, who was cut by the Browns in training camp and played just one game last season. But on Sunday, he produced despite a hamstring injury that slowed him in practice during the week. He finished with four catches for 80 yards, his highest yardage total since Sept. 25, 2011.
2. Smith's uneven ... but not so bad
What could have been an underwhelming day for the Jets' rookie quarterback instead turned into a very solid performance. An opening drive where he was 4-of-6 for 61 yards and a 12-yard touchdown pass was followed by a bad pick-six on the next possession where Smith locked in on his intended target. On the Jets' second possession of the third quarter, a 25-yard pass to Nelson and his own 8-yard touchdown run gave the Jets a 24-21 lead. It wasn't a perfect performance from Smith, but outside of his first quarter blunder he limited his mistakes and played with relative composure.
3. Defensive line responds
After struggling to create pressure in the first half, the Jets' defensive front emerged from the locker room a different unit. A good pass rush off the edge, including Muhammad Wilkerson's 6-yard sack in the third quarter along with a great push from the defensive interior keyed the defense in its stand against New England. All told, Brady was sacked four times by the Jets, three of which came in the second half.
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.