Updated: 11/22/10 6:24 a.m.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Rex Ryan caught his breath after yet another stomach-churning victory just in time to say he was sorry.
The big, brash coach realizes these wild endings are doing a number on New York Jets fans’ nerves. He also knows wins make them happy, no matter how his team keeps pulling them out.
“If I have to apologize for it every week from here on out, I will,” Ryan said, “all the way to the Super Bowl.”
Santonio Holmes caught a 6-yard touchdown pass from Mark Sanchez with 10 seconds left, lifting the Jets to an unlikely 30-27 comeback victory over the Houston Texans on Sunday.
“We feel like we can always dig ourselves out of a hole,” Sanchez said. “The only problem you can’t come back from is when the clock has run out.”
This latest win came a week after the Jets became the first team to pull off consecutive overtime victories on the road.
“I swear it’s like ‘Groundhog Day,’” a beaming Sanchez said.
After blowing a 16-point lead in the fourth quarter, the Jets (8-2) trailed 27-23 with less than a minute left. But Sanchez completed two passes to LaDainian Tomlinson and then had a perfectly placed 42-yard toss to Braylon Edwards with 16 seconds remaining. Edwards was knocked out of bounds by Eugene Wilson, stopping the clock and giving the Jets a chance to win.
“We don’t think we’re ever out of it at all,” tight end Dustin Keller said.
On the next play, Sanchez coolly found Holmes streaking into the left corner of the end zone for the winning score, sending the New Meadowlands Stadium crowd into a frenzy.
“We’re cutting it awfully close,” Sanchez said. “I don’t think anybody has any finger nails left if they’re a Jets fan.”
The same might be said of Texans fans, who endured another heartbreaking loss. The Texans (4-6) fell last week on a desperation heave as time expired at Jacksonville. Two weeks ago, Houston lost to San Diego on a late interception after driving for a potential go-ahead score in the fourth quarter.
“We deserve better in these last three games,” Texans defensive end Mario Williams said. “We were there. Everything is there and we’re doing great and all of a sudden, we let the big play go. It’s unheard of. We just keep having it happen to us.”
It appeared Houston was in good shape in this one when it went up 24-23 on Arian Foster’s questionable go-ahead 1-yard touchdown with 2:18 remaining.
Foster, the NFL’s leading rusher, was hit at the goal line but reached out as he landed on a teammate and the ball broke the plane for a touchdown. Ryan challenged the call, thinking Foster was down, but the play was upheld after replay review.
Neil Rackers kicked a 22-yard field goal with 55 seconds to go after Sanchez was intercepted by Kevin Bentley — sending thousands of fans to the exits.
Those who stuck around were treated to another incredible ending.
“I can already see the headlines: ‘Far From Great,’” Ryan said. “Who cares? We won. We’ll take it.”
Sanchez finished 22 for 38 for 315 yards and three touchdowns, including two to Holmes and one to Edwards, to lead the Jets to their best start since opening the 1986 season 9-1.
Holmes, who finished with seven catches for 126 yards, had a 37-yard touchdown grab that won it in overtime at Cleveland last week and set up the win at Detroit two weeks ago with a 52-yard reception in OT.
“Situations happen like this and that’s what we get paid the big bucks for,” Holmes said, “to go out and continue playing football until the end.”
New York gets back to work quickly, with another home game Thursday night against Cincinnati.
Foster had 84 yards rushing and two touchdown runs. Matt Schaub, starting after being hospitalized Tuesday night with a knee injury, threw for 254 yards and a touchdown to Joel Dreessen.
“I’m still searching for the adjective for how I would describe it,” Schaub said. “It’s tough to deal with.”
The Jets went up 20-7 on Holmes’ 41-yard touchdown catch with 4:38 remaining in the third quarter.
The score came moments after a man jumped onto the field and dashed across the turf for about 80 yards before falling and being jumped on by several security officers, including two New Jersey State troopers. He was handcuffed and led away from the field.
Nick Folk kicked a 30-yard field goal to make it 23-7 and give the Jets what appeared to be a comfortable lead 9 seconds into the fourth quarter.
“We had them down a bunch of points and to see them crawl back like that, you don’t want to let that happen,” cornerback Darrelle Revis said.
Houston began its comeback with Rackers’ 38-yard field goal with 12:21 left that made it 23-10.
The Texans also took advantage of a fumble by Shonn Greene, scoring immediately after Brian Cushing knocked the ball loose and Bentley recovered. Schaub found Dreessen wide open down the left sideline for a 43-yard touchdown that made it 23-17 with 9:14 to go.
“It was a great comeback, then we let it slip away,” Texans owner Bob McNair said. “When it’s going tough, you’ve got to step up. They stepped up. We didn’t.”
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.