More Important To New York Than New England?

The New York Jets had to have the Patriots game. Losing would have allowed the Patriots to assume command of the AFC East. With a 1 game lead, New York is in the driver's seat, and that's a good thing. Tennessee is on the agenda next. A stumble this week, and a Pats win, will give New England the lead again.

The Jets' 34-31 upset victory over New England on Thursday night obviously was a watershed moment for a franchise that has played second banana in the AFC East to the Patriots for quite some time.

But as Leon Washington was quick to point out Friday, "we didn't win the Super Bowl (Thursday) night. It was just a divisional game against a rival opponent."

True, but it was the kind of win that can make a team and its fans dream about the ultimate NFL game. And while the Jets (7-3) understand the magnitude of only their second win over New England (6-4) in the last 13 meetings, they're savoring it with their usual approach.

"We understood before the game the magnitude" of it, said wideout Jerricho Cotchery, who had five receptions for 87 yards and a touchdown, which was set up by his own incredible 46-yard catch. "We understood what it meant, period. We wanted to be ready for everything, to come out with a victory (over the Patriots), to make that next step.

"The Buffalo game was a big game for us and that made the St. Louis game important. And the St. Louis game made the New England game important, so to be able to pull out that victory was another big step for us and now we have to move on and focus on the Tennessee game" on Nov. 23.

Yet Washington, a third-year running back and kick returner, couldn't ignore the significance of this win.

"New England had dominated the division and the Jets for the last seven or eight years," he said. "It was great for us to go out and make that statement. ... The biggest thing I see about this team is when we go into a game, we don't think we can win, we don't believe we can win. You got a sense last night before the game that we knew we were going to win the game. That goes a long way. You go into a game like this against New England, because they're like a standard in the NFL on how to run an organization and how to play team football, it gives you a lot of confidence."

"It was a very good mood on the plane-ride home," coach Eric Mangini said with a laugh. "It's a very short plane ride home. It has felt long sometimes in the past, but this one felt very short. ... What I like about (the Jets' attitude) is as happy as everybody was with the victory and those things, it's still the attention was shifting to the things that we needed to get corrected."

Those things obviously don't include Cotchery's incredible hands.

"Jerricho has unbelievable hands," Mangini marveled, "and some of the things that he comes down with are amazing. He's such an understated guy that you lose track of how gifted he is as a receiver."

"I wanted to do everything in my power to make that catch," said Cotchery, who made the play despite being interfered with by Ellis Hobbs. "I couldn't get my other hand to the ball so I had to make sure I could get the ball close to me and hold on as tight as I could."

Now the Jets will try to hold on just as tightly to first place in the AFC East.


Prevent Almost Lost The Game

--Eric Mangini took some heat for choosing not to blitz Matt Cassel on New England's final drive, which ended with his 16-yard scoring pass to Randy Moss with one second left in regulation, forcing overtime.

"In that situation with 1:09 left and no timeouts they're fighting against two different things," the coach explained. "They're fighting against yardage and they're fighting against time and what you don't want to do is give up yardage and let them get out of bounds. When you play the type of defense that we were playing we were going to be able to protect the sidelines, jam the receivers and really the only open area is short and in the middle of the field where you want them to catch all the balls because that keeps the clock going. It's about 16 seconds per play is what it typically takes.

"If you can make them go the long hard way and eat up that time on the clock," Mangini added, "you put pressure on them two different ways and that is something that we played back when I was with the Jets the first time, in New England, here. It's not something new that was just developed."

Feely Earns His Paycheck

--K Jay Feely hasn't been 100 percent sure he would be active for each of the last two games. Regular kicker Mike Nugent, out since opening day with a thigh injury, has returned to practice, and the two kickers have had a kicking contest the last two weeks.

Feely won it both times, and then won the New England game with a 34-yard overtime field goal.

"Mike and I get along great," Feely said afterward, "and you've just got to do your job. You can't worry about what the coaches are going to do (and) if they're going to play you or not. I want to see (Nugent) get healthy. He's a great kicker. ... Yeah, it's been kind of crazy this year and a roller-coaster ride for me, from getting cut by Miami (in preseason) all the way to this point. But I think that builds character in your life when you go through those times and you see how you respond."

All In The Flip Of A Coin

--FS Kerry Rhodes made a decisive move for the Jets that was vital to their victory, and it wasn't even during a play.

Rhodes, one of the team captains, called tails for the overtime coin flip. He was correct, and the Jets scored before the Patriots even had a possession.

"Kerry's been doing a tremendous job" on coin tosses, Leon Washington said. "I don't want to jinx him. We've been getting the ball first a lot."

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