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Jets 31 Bills 27: Christmas Comes Early

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The Jets improved to 9-5 and kept their division title hopes alive today with a miraculous 31-27 win over the Bills. The narrative coming from this game will likely be that the Jets played a terrible game and only won because Buffalo gift wrapped a victory. This is true. However, a win at this point of the year is a win. This team was desperate for one. Whenever baseball players hit slumps, it is often a squibber in the infield or a blooper where there is no defender that ends it. The hitter stops pressing and starts playing better. This game was the shot of luck the Jets needed to exterminate the monkey that has been on their backs the past two weeks.

The Good:

The Redemption of Abram Elam: When the Bills came to the Meadowlands a year ago, Abram Elam was the goat of the game. He knocked down Darrelle Revis in coverage of a deep pass and allowed Lee Evans to score a backbreaking touchdown in the fourth quarter of a 6-3 game. It was one in a series of horrendous game-deciding blunders. On this day, Elam's relentless pursuit of J.P. Losman late in the fourth quarter resulted in a potentially season-saving strip sack that Shaun Ellis picked up and took into the end zone. The Jets went from down 27-24 with 2:00 to ahead by a 31-27 margin. Had the Jets lost this game, it would have been over. They would have been on a three game losing streak and a game behind New England and Miami with two to play. Because of Elam's heroics, Gang Green still controls its own destiny. It was the biggest impact play in a season where Elam has produced many.

Leon Washington: All the Jets have to do is get the ball into his hands. His electrifying 47 yard touchdown run swung the momentum back to the Jets before halftime.

Calvin Pace: Pace's 2 sacks paced a defense that had been struggling to get to the quarterback in recent weeks.

David Harris: In the past three weeks, the run defense has resembled that of the 2007 team's. Opponents are pounding the ball on the Jets, despite outstanding efforts by Harris, who led the team with 9 tackles today.

Intensity Coming Out of the Locker Room: With the crowd fired up and the team angry after a two game losing streak, the Jets stormed out to a 14-3 lead. Give credit to a deflated Bills team for not quitting and a fluke interception that swung the momentum of the contest.

David Clowney: The Jets finally activated him in place of the injured Brad Smith, and David made a nice 26 yard reception, the first of his career. He may only be a secondary target, but average NFL nickels and dimes are not going to be able to match up with his speed. The Jets need to keep utilizing his speed. His receiving skills are more important than Smith's ability on gadget plays.

The Bad:

Run Defense: Something is not right with Kris Jenkins. He struggled last week after getting up slowly from a first quarter play. He was limited in practice this week, and then the Bills rushed for 187 yards after seeing their run game shut down in Orchard Park. The Jets need to get this guy healthy.

Arm Tackling: Has Bob Sutton taught anybody on this team to finish a tackle? How exactly did this guy keep his job as defensive coordinator for three years? Tackling this sloppily at this time of the year is inexcusable and an indictment of the coaching. The defense played reasonably well. It won the game with the sack, fumble, and return, and was put into bad situations by the offense and special teams. However, when something as basic as tackling is an issue at this point of the year, it is a bad sign.

Two Offensive Touches for Leon Washington: All the Jets have to do is get the ball into his hands. His electrifying 47 yard touchdown run swung the momentum back to the Jets before halftime. Why then did he only get the ball on one other play from scrimmage?

Coles' Drop: It set up a kick that lead to a momentum-turning interception. This is not the first time Coles' inability to catch a ball in traffic has led to an interception. Every Jets fan should love LC's toughness, but the next time he complains about his role in the offense, he should not proceed to make such a big mistake.

Fake Punt: A better special teams coach than Mike Westhoff has never lived, but there is no excuse for the punt return unit to be caught off guard by a fake for the third time in one season. Everybody on the line should be screaming "Watch the fake!" on every kick at this point.

Other Thoughts:

  • If this win gets the Jets on fire to the point where they somehow win the Super Bowl, they should send Dick Jauron a championship ring for passing the ball with the lead and 2:00 left, especially with J.P. Losman under center and his running game destroying the Jets' defense.
  • The pass defense was much better, picking off 3 passes and holding the Bills to under 4 yards per pass attempt. However, these were the inept Bills and the horrible J.P. Losman under center. We should wait before we are impressed.
  • It may not have been pretty, but let us not forget that an equally uninspiring win against a lousy Kansas City team launched a five game winning streak.
  • Let us also not forget that the 2007 Giants were playing just as poorly as the 2008 Jets at this time last season. After a sluggish victory over these same Bills, they caught fire.
  • Watching the team celebrate, it was easy to see its confidence growing. It seemed like these guys were pumped to finally catch a break, and the pressure planted by the expectations after the win at Tennessee faded away.

Make no mistake about it. This team has a lot of work to do. However, the Jets are guaranteed a winning season, control their own destiny, and have more than doubled their win total of a year ago. This might just be the divine intervention this club needs. Lord knows karma should be on our side after decades of suffering.