‘From the Pressbox’
By Ernie Palladino
» More Ernie Palladino Columns
Ernie is the author of “Lombardi and Landry.” He’ll be covering football throughout the season.
Don’t worry about the numbers.
From here on in, the numbers surrounding Mark Sanchez and the Jets don’t matter for the most part. The only ones that counted in yesterday’s win over the Bills were 28-24, 6-5, and 5.
Those were final score, the Jets’ record that keeps them from falling out of the playoff hunt, and the number of games left that the Jets must at least win the majority of to make the postseason.
The rest? All fluff. The Jets are in a zero-sum business right now. Win, move on to the next game, and win again. Do it enough times and they’ll save their season.
And it won’t matter a darned whether Sanchez threw those career-high four touchdown passes, making him look like a star despite completing less than 50 percent of his passes. Or that the Jets went life and death, dependent on Sanchez’ final run-out scoring pass to Santonio Holmes with 1:01 remaining, and then having to hang on as the defense gave Ryan Fitzpatrick three shots to the end zone at the end. Had Fitzpatrick not thrown a second-and-7 end zone pass from the Jets’ 24 behind an apparently open Stevie Johnson, this blog might be reading far different than it is now.
It doesn’t matter that they had a roller coaster game against a battered Buffalo squad that lost its fourth straight and will play the rest of the way without their top ball carrier, Fred Jackson, waylaid the previous week by a broken fibula.
The fact is, the Jets walked out of MetLife Stadium as winners. Ultimately, they did what they had to do. And for now, that’s enough.
They face Washington next week, another team that should get blown out, though the Redskins don’t appear ready to ditch the rest of the season yet. Rex Ryan’s bunch will probably play that one too-close-for-comfort, too.
If the season ended now, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati would land as the two wild card teams. So there is still much work to do.
How the Jets do it doesn’t matter anymore. Artistry went out the window long ago. The fans’ support, flagging even as Sanchez struggled to position his team for that final touchdown pass, no longer matters.
Be with them. Doubt them. Who cares? These last five games are probably not going to be pretty. But pretty doesn’t garner victory. Points do. And as long as the scoreboard leans in the Jets’ direction, they’ll have a shot.
Surely, there are problems. Inconsistent defense — another final, long drive, just follow up on Tim Tebow’s backbreaker from last week. Missed assignments. A second-quarter interception that set up Johnson’s touchdown, a 14-7 Buffalo lead, and the wide receiver’s tasteless “shot-in-the-thigh” celebration pointed at Plaxico Burress.
It’s a good thing the officials flagged Johnson, setting up Dave Rayner’s flubbed kickoff attempt from the 20 that led to Burress’ tying touchdown catch. Otherwise, the Jets would have been in real trouble.
Again, it all gets washed away in the victory. No time for trends. No time for playing the confidence game with this team.
Move on to next week, hopefully knock down another opponent, and go on to the next.
Five games. And it doesn’t matter a bit how the Jets win them.
Just that they win.
Will the Jets go 5-0 and make the playoffs? Be heard in the comments below…