FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- One year later, they're the Same Old Jets. For a change, that's not an insult.
Some might say Tony Romo choked. Well, if that's true, the Jets are like a tongue depressor, because they've induced a lot of gagging over the past year. Five of their last 10 victories, including the postseason, came on fourth-quarter comebacks.
That's not luck. Once or twice, you could sell the luck argument. But when a team does it that often, it's a trait -- an acquired skill. The good teams have it, and the Jets are a good team. It's a winning mentality that comes from ... well, winning.
Bill Parcells always used to say, "You can't dream up confidence. Confidence is born of demonstrated ability." The Jets demonstrated that ability by scoring 17 unanswered points to erase a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter, using two takeaways and a blocked punt in the final nine minutes to win 27-24 and wipe the smile off Jerry Jones' face.
"We don't lack courage, fight, that temperament, the belief that momentum is going to come our way," Rex Ryan said Monday. "That's who we are. If we didn't have it [Sunday] night, there were several opportunities to just let that game go. But we refused to let go of that rope."
In most of their comebacks, it was Mark Sanchez leading the way, going schoolyard and making plays in crunch time. Against the Cowboys, it was defense and special teams -- Mike DeVito forcing a fumble, Joe McKnight blocking a punt, Darrelle Revis making an interception and Nick Folk nailing a 50-yard field goal to beat his former team.
"We're not going to lie down, we're going to continue to fight until the clock hits all four zeroes," cornerback Antonio Cromartie said.
He wasn't kidding. Against the Cowboys, they scored the winning points with 27 seconds remaining. They beat the Indianapolis Colts (a wild-card game) with 0:00 on the clock. Beat the Houston Texans with 10 seconds left. Beat the Detroit Lions in overtime. Beat the Denver Broncos with 1:13 remaining.
"For three years now, one thing you can say about this team, it doesn't lack fight," Ryan said.
On Monday, the Jets weren't gloating over their last magic trick. They accepted the victory -- thank you, very much -- but recognized they made a ton of mistakes. They spent an inordinate amount of time on the practice field, making corrections.
They call it "Celebration Monday" when they win. This was more like "Introspection Monday."
The Jets, who fancy themselves as the best defensive team in the NFL, allowed 390 total yards (the fifth-highest total in 33 games under Ryan). They rushed for only 2.8 yards per attempt, a dramatic departure from ground-and-pound.
That's not Rex Ryan football, not even close. Truth be told, Ryan and his staff were outcoached by Jason Garrett and Rob Ryan for a good part of the game, but Rex & Co. made some nice adjustments that fueled the comeback.
"We won a game even when we didn't play our best -- and that means a lot," safety Jim Leonhard said. "A lot of teams can't do that. You need to find ways to win games when you don't have your A-game, and that's what we've been able to do."
But they didn't do it when it mattered most, failing to overcome a 24-0 deficit against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship Game. That flaw, falling behind, ultimately proved fatal last season. So, yeah, these regular-season comebacks are nice, but until the Jets make it right in the postseason -- go to a Super Bowl -- they will be defined by the one that got away.
For now, they're 1-0, relieved. Same Old Jets.