The New York Jets won their fourth-straight game on Saturday night, taking down the four-win Dallas Cowboys 19-16. Although the win was ugly, their quarterback continues to step up big when Gang Green needs it most.
By Jeff Weisinger
(Before I begin, I have a message for NFL Network: Please just call it “Saturday Night Football” and not “a special Saturday edition of Thursday Night Football.” Seriously, simplicity goes a long way.
And now, for why we’re really here . . .)
The now 9-5 New York Jets should’ve obliterated the struggling (now) 4-10 Dallas Cowboys. A three-point victory over the worst team in the NFL shouldn’t be celebrated.
They followed the typical game-plan for losing to an inferior team: commit a ton of penalties, make big mistakes on special teams, get outplayed on both sides of the ball, get outplayed by a fourth-string practice squad quarterback who came in at halftime for his first-ever NFL action since entering the league three years ago, and allow the said team to tie the game, twice.
The Jets should be thankful for Ryan Fitzpatrick and this thing called “Fitzmagic.” That new thing gave the Jets their first winning season in five years.
— New York Jets (@nyjets) December 20, 2015
Fitzpatrick’s 43-yard dart to Kenbrell Thompkins, which set up the game-winning field goal by Randy Bullock in the final minute of play was just that: “Fitzmagic.”
— NFL (@NFL) December 20, 2015
He led the Jets to their second come-from-behind win in three weeks, this time orchestrating a near-perfect eight play, 58-yard drive to set up Bullock’s game-winner. It’s only near-perfect because Fitzpatrick nearly fumbled the ball away on a third-and-1 while diving for the first down on a no-huddle play.
Overall, Fitzpatrick performed decently, going 26-for-39 for 299 yards with a touchdown and an interception. However his night will be known more for the 10 points that he led them to in the fourth quarter, again. The better part of that is he made the plays the Jets needed to backup wideouts in Thompkins and Quincy Enunwa, who made a third-and-14 conversion early in the fourth quarter, putting the Jets on the Dallas three-yard line. They scored two plays later on a three-yard touchdown pass to Eric Decker.
Yet, although Fitzpatrick is doing everything — and at times even more during the Jets current four-game win streak that the Jets have asked him to do — he can’t do it all alone.
That’s not to say he hasn’t done a lot individually. He’s close to potentially matching his career-high 3,832 yard total he threw for in 2011 for the Buffalo Bills and has already surpassed his career-high 24 touchdowns he threw for in 2011 and 2012. Fitzpatrick’s touchdown pass to Decker was his 25th of the season.
Elsewhere, the Jets’ defense has to step back up and become the dominant defense they were in the beginning of the season — when it seemed as if the fate of their campaign would depend solely on them, much like it is now. Their top-ranked run defense allowed Dallas to run for 133 yards on Saturday night, let alone Darren McFadden to run for the century mark.
Then they allowed Kellen Moore to come in in the second quarter and throw for 158 yards and a touchdown in relief of original starter Matt Cassel. Even though he threw three picks, including a questionable last-second pick as he was trying to find Dez Bryant deep in the final seconds. Moore looked like an inexperienced NFL quarterback making his debut (because, he was), however the lack of a solid pass rush allowed him to gain a rhythm and to lead Dallas to tie before halftime and in the fourth quarter.
— NFL (@NFL) December 20, 2015
But more importantly, the Jets’ special teams has to be perfect. Although Bullock’s missed field goal — which he originally made but was negated by a penalty – didn’t fully cost the Jets, it put them in a situation where a win became harder than it needed to be. He also missed a point-after attempt (their first such miss in 289 attempts, including the postseason), costing the Jets four points they could’ve had, which would’ve made it harder for Dallas to come back.
The Jets should’ve beat Dallas by 20. Instead, they won by just three.
If the Jets are to make the playoffs, they’ll have to win at least one of the next two games for a legitimate shot, unless they win out.
Their upcoming games: New England at MetLife and at Buffalo on January 3rd. Two games that will determine if the Jets make the playoffs or not. Two games that the Jets cannot afford to play the way they did Saturday night.
Two games that they cannot just rely on “Fitzmagic,” but rather on “Jets-magic.”