Jets steal page from Tebow playbook

September, 9, 2013
9/09/13
8:46
PM ET
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Face it, the New York Jets won Sunday in Tebow-esque fashion. We're talking about the 2011 version of Tim Tebow, the player who orchestrated miracle finishes for the Denver Broncos.

All the ingredients were there Sunday for the Jets. They sputtered on offense but played terrific defense against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, extending the game until late in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Geno Smith made a few plays with his legs, including the game-deciding one. In the end, they still needed some help -- a gift. Bucs linebacker Lavonte David provided it, delivering the greatest shove of all. He pushed Smith as he stepped out of bounds, resulting in a 15-yard penalty and ... well, you know the rest.

Sound familiar? It was reminiscent of the Tebow miracle on Dec. 11, 2011, when Bears running back Marion Barber mindlessly ran out of bounds to stop the clock in the final minute of regulation, leaving time for the Broncos, who tied it with a long field goal and won in overtime after a Barber fumble. It was one of a series of amazing comebacks, including one against the Jets, that made people wonder if supernatural forces were at work.

This could be the Jets' formula this season. Obviously, they can't rely on fluke plays every week, but they're a defense-oriented team that should be able to keep games close into the fourth quarter, giving Smith a chance to make a play or two.

"We're going to have to be extraordinary this year because we're so young," linebacker Calvin Pace said after Sunday's 18-17 victory. "Once Geno gets his feet under him and starts to feel confident in the pro game, then it's going to be really good. But we're going to have to hold them off a while (as a defense), and that's fine with us. We had to do the same thing with Mark (Sanchez) when he was a rookie."

New York coach Rex Ryan believes his defense is up for the challenge. On Monday, he bristled when a reporter asked if it was good defense or bad quarterback play by Josh Freeman that set the tone on Sunday.

"You guys figure it out," said Ryan, adding, "We'll be pretty good on defense."

Sunday also showed what can happen when a team plays low-scoring games, with little margin for error. There was one lapse -- safety Dawan Landry's missed tackle on Tampa Bay receiver Vincent Jackson -- and it nearly wrecked the game for the Jets. They got lucky because of David's brain cramp. You can't expect something like that every week. Then again, who knows?

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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