By Steve Silverman
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The Jets had the Patriots on the ropes yesterday, playing one of their best games of the season before dropping a 29-26 decision in overtime.
The loss drops the Jets a game behind the Pats in the AFC East. The Jets will complete the first half of their 2012 schedule when they host the Dolphins on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
While they have suffered a couple of nasty defeats in the first half of the season — to the 49ers and the Texans — the Jets are actually in as good of shape as they could have been in following the loss of All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis.
The defense is coming closer to holding up its end of the bargain, and the Jets actually had the semblance of a passing game against New England.
While nobody should start dancing about that yet because the Patriots have an abominable pass defense, it showed that the Jets can move the ball through the air. Few thought Mark Sanchez was truly capable, but he had 328 passing yards.
That’s usually a two-game total for Sanchez.
The running game is coming around. Shonn Greene has shown that the difficulties he had early in the season were not permanent. He has run the ball well two games in a row, and when he got dinged in the second half Joe McKnight actually had a few good carries.
The point is that the Jets have nothing to feel bad about. They may be 3-4 and coming off a painful loss, but Rex Ryan does not look back. That’s one of his strengths, and that’s good for this team.
Especially when the Jets look at their upcoming schedule. They have a chance to roll from this point forward. There’s nobody on their upcoming schedule that should scare them.
They won’t be favored when they return from a bye week to play at Seattle in Week 10 or when they host the Patriots the following week, but they have an excellent chance of going 8-1 or 7-2 in the final nine games.
They just need to pick up where they left off against the Patriots, get rid of a few mistakes and keep the concentration level high.
If they can find a way to scratch out a win at home against the Patriots, they could possibly overtake New England in the AFC East. While that’s not going to be easy, if they can win the games they should then a 10-win season is within reach, and that may be good enough for a spot in the postseason.
That couldn’t be more wrong. The Jets made mistakes — giving up a kickoff return for a touchdown, a botched hand off that resulted in a safety, a poor Sanchez pass that turned a touchdown into an interception and a costly drop by rookie wide receiver Stephen Hill — but they can all be corrected.
The opening drive of the game and the fourth-quarter comeback were the most encouraging aspects about this game. The defense also frustrated Tom Brady for much of the game.
Bill Belichick knows that his team was outplayed for a large portion of the game. Brady knows it too.
The Jets have plenty of issues — including not knowing what to do with Tim Tebow — but this team has plenty of time and the opportunity to mount a shocking turnaround.
With their schedule, it is a strong possibility.
The real season is just starting.
With their soft schedule, can the Jets realistically go 7-2 or 8-1 in their final nine contests? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below…