- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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It started last Sunday with an embarrassing loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Later in the week, anonymous players ripped backup quarterback Tim Tebow, who seemed like an odd target for the team's struggles.
Then, Jets owner Woody Johnson laid down the gauntlet by saying what the Jets are doing is unacceptable.
"I didn’t sign up for a 3-6 season," the Jets boss said bluntly.
This all had the makings of another Jets implosion. Instead, New York set aside its various distractions and picked up a 27-13 victory over the St. Louis Rams.
Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez was an efficient 15-of-20 passing for 178 yards and a touchdown in the win. New York’s defense forced three turnovers.
New York improved to 4-6 and ended a three-game losing streak that spanned 35 days thanks to a bye. More importantly, the Jets jumped from fourth place to second place in the AFC East via tiebreakers and kept their slim postseason hopes alive.
The Jets versus the New England Patriots is one of the NFL's great rivalries -- and it is much better when something is at stake for both teams.
Sunday's win by the Jets makes Thanksgiving's nationally televised home game against the rival Patriots more meaningful. For New England, it's a chance to put the final nail in the coffin on New York's season. That is something the Rams failed to do. For the hosting Jets, it’s a chance to stay alive in the wild-card chase and perhaps close the gap with the Patriots in the AFC East.
A loss to the Rams this weekend would not have made that possible. The Jets would've been 3-7, floundering and with nothing to play for. New York's win at least gives the Jets some much-needed confidence and motivation. The Jets played the Patriots extremely tough at Gillette Stadium during a 29-26 loss in Week 7.
After Sunday's game, Johnson had nicer words for his team.
"Nice team win in St. Louis today," the Jets' owner tweeted.
Here are some other AFC East notes from Week 11:
The Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins are also 4-6. Therefore, no team in the division is mathematically eliminated. But the Bills have the easiest schedule of the three teams. Only two of Buffalo’s final six games are against teams currently with winning records. The Bills have a shot to win many of these games if they get hot at the right time. They have a huge game next week against the Colts, who currently hold a wild-card spot in the AFC.
The Dolphins' playoff hopes look all but over after their Thursday night loss to the Bills. They play three consecutive postseason contenders. Miami will host the Seahawks (6-4) next week, followed by the Patriots and San Francisco 49ers. I think, at best, Miami finishes 1-2 in this span and falls out of contention. But there is also a good chance the Dolphins drop all three games.
It was interesting to see former Miami quarterback Chad Henne light up the Houston Texans on Sunday for four touchdowns. Henne replaced starter Blaine Gabbert and threw for 354 yards in an 43-37 overtime loss. This game has dual meaning for the AFC East. First, the Dolphins gave up on Henne after four inconsistent years. They drafted rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill and moved on. Second, Houston is one of the biggest threats to New England in the AFC. But the Texans showed a lot of holes in a pass defense that New England and quarterback Tom Brady could exploit. The Patriots will host the Texans on Dec. 10 on "Monday Night Football." There is also a good chance both teams will meet in the playoffs on the road to the Super Bowl.