Tooth and Nail

Did you see the weather report for this past weekend? When I took a look at it for much of the previous week, the forecast kept saying that the sky would open up and burning Jets would come crashing out of it.

Oh man, it was pouring out there, but it wasn't the Jets who went down; it was raining cats and dawgs over at the pound as the green team put the Browns back into their misery with the most unlikely victory. Somehow, despite having had a team cinch in what should have been the game-sealing touchdown, the Jets were given a mathematical chance of victory by Nick Chubb crossing the goal line greater than the zero chance that would have been made by him stepping out of bounds at the 1-yard line like he did against the Texans in 2020. They broke out their calculators, crunched the numbers, and showed their work, good enough to impress any math teacher except those that might teach at Toledo, Ohio State or somewhere else in the now-flooding Browns country.

Yes, the song and dance has been done a lot over the last day and change, so I'd ask that you sing along with me for this next part. Down 30-17 with under two minutes left and no timeouts, the Jets fought and clawed their way back thanks to some all-time poor defensive coaching on the Browns' side (credit to the Jets' offensive game plan is due, but how on Earth did Corey Davis sneak behind everybody for that 66-yard bomb), a hefty dose of luck (an onside kick recovery caused by a perfect bounce and coverage by Justin Hardee Sr.) and- most importantly for the future- key contributions from guys who are expected to step up in situations like this one.

You were a little off-key there, but it'll do.

The Jets rallied in a way that very well could define their season. Sure, there's 15 games left before all is said and done, but the kind of kickstart that a 1-in-2,229 chance could provide can completely flip a season outlook. Staring at their fourth straight 0-2 start to a season, they dug deep for what would be their Sunday afternoon salvation, nearly 22 years after their Monday Night Miracle.

Or... alternatively, this kind of win could mean nothing. After that Monday Night Miracle that saw the Jets improve to 6-1 on the season, they then lost three games in a row, won their next three in a row, then lost three more games in a row to finish 9-7 and miss the playoffs. Now, there's a sizeable gap in what the outlook for the team was back then at 6-1 and what the team is now at 1-1; I will totally accept a 9-win season that sees them fall short of the postseason right now. Though that team was regarded as a disappointment because of the prior season's expectations, this one posting a winning season for the first time in years can be treated as a definite step in the right direction. I hope it doesn't come to a point where a disappointing finish comes into play, but, again, there's 15 games left, so I'm not going to dwell on gloomy scenarios when that should be left to the dirtbags of Cleveland.

I'm feeling pretty good right now. Afterglows tend to last longer when you've got a lengthy cold streak in between (I defy you to deny me right), but this legitimately feels like one of the best wins in years. Neither of the come-from-behind wins from last year match up to this one; this game should have been over by just about any metric, and several obituaries had already been written for the man collecting the receipts. The 2020 wins were tainted, as were the majority of the 2019 wins. Maybe that 2018 opener (their last September win before Sunday) can compare in terms of inspiring the kind of hope we've been lacking, but other than that, maybe that ultimately meaningless but then-enormous Week 16 victory over the Patriots in 2015 was the last time we've had this kind of win.

It's hard to draw big-picture conclusions through just two games, but I'll do my best with it here. Through two games and a 1-1 record, the Jets look like their have a real chance to find their way to a winning record by the time they are done with the AFC North. They play the 0-2 Bengals next week at MetLife Stadium, a place where they upset the then-1-seeded Bengals last year when they threw out their second-string QB to great effect. Now that that team has been led by a QB who looks like he's lost several steps since last year behind an offensive line that has yet to discover its groove and thrown four picks. Burrow leads the NFL in dropbacks (Flacco is second) through two losses and is set to face a great CB tandem and DL that- while not living up to expectations thus far- can definitely pick up the pace this week against an offensive line that has also not lived up to its expectations. If they get as pass-happy as they've been (and it's also important that the Jets tone it down too), there's every chance that they fall to 0-3 coming off a Super Bowl loss, the kind of meltdown that they may not be able to recover from this season.

The Steelers aren't looking like much of a threat either at this point. Now that T.J. Watt is on IR and will miss the game against the Jets, their DL feels infinitely weaker. They have had a surprisingly pass-heavy offense themselves despite spending their first round pick last year on a runningback and having MItchell Trubisky as their starting QB. Still, with the former Bear and Bill only offering 5.1 YPA, it still sounds like a game where the defense should be able to shut them down to the tune of what the Patriots accomplished over the weekend.

Seriously, a 3-1 start is not out of the question. They're not currently favored to win either game, but if we learned anything from what they've done through their first two games, they'll certainly be willing to fight tooth and nail in their next two. Let's hope that they'll find their way to winning again this Sunday and next.

Thanks for reading.

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