The Jets did just enough to win in their 13-3 victory over Arizona. They got one big offensive play, a 69-yard third quarter touchdown grab by wide receiver Santana Moss, and that turned to be all the touchdowns they needed. For the most part they relied on their defense, and a solid running game. And it was that running game that allowed the Moss touchdown to occur.
"[The Cardinals] had eight guys in the box since we were running a lot," said Jets coach Herman Edwards. "We hadn't thrown a lot of go-routes coming into this game."
"They were sitting down on our passing downs, so as soon as we had the chance, we were going to go deep," said Jets quarterback Quincy Carter.
At first it looked like the pass was going to get picked off by Cardinals cornerback Renaldo Hill, who had perfect position, but the ball slipped through his hands.
"Santana made a heck of catch because the guy was right on him," said Carter. "You have to give [Moss] a lot of credit."
But aside from that play, it was the Jets defense that was the story. Either the pass rush was harassing Cardinals signal-callers Shaun King and then Josh McCown into bad decisions, or the back seven provided blanket coverage. Cornerbacks David Barrett and Terrell Buckley, along with linebacker Jonathan Vilma had fourth quarter interceptions in the red zone to ice the win. Also, Barrett forced a fumble on a reception by Anquan Boldin in the fourth quarter. It was recovered by Vilma. All fourth quarter Cardinals possession ended with turnovers.
Playing with a backup quarterback who isn't comfortable with the offense, Edwards knew his defense had to carry the team the last two week against Cleveland and Arizona, and they were up to the challenge.
"If we are going to win, it's got to be on our defense right now," said Edwards. "Our offense is playing a little inconsistent right now. The main thing about our offense is not turning the ball over. If you don't turn the ball over, and then force turnovers and play a game of field position like we have the last two weeks, you can win games." "Right now [our offense] is struggling a little bit," said Jets guard Pete Kendall. "A lot of credit belongs to our defense because they hold teams to fewer points."
With the Jets (8-3) in great position in the AFC Wild Card race, the wins don't need style points. "No matter how ugly it looks, we have to keep winning games," said Edwards.
And with franchise quarterback Chad Pennington possibly coming back for the next game against Houston, the offense might be getting the boost they need to get out of their slump, just in time for the team's difficult stretch run with team's like Pittsburgh and New England on the schedule.