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NY JETS articles 11/4/08

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November 4, 2008

It's a cruel world, this NFL, which is why the Eric Mangini-imposed "five-second rule" for basking in the euphoria of a big win ends the moment the New York Jets take the practice field tomorrow.

Because all of the good that came out of the Jets' 26-17 upset win over the Bills Sunday will mean little if the 5-3 Jets don't dispatch the 2-6 Rams this Sunday at Giants Stadium.

All of the proud, feel-good moments that came out of Buffalo will be unceremoniously erased if the Jets, tied for first place in the AFC East with the Patriots and the Bills, cannot beat the Rams.

Because that win over Buffalo, the fourth in the past five games for the Jets, appears to have finally helped them begin to forge an identity - one as a true contender in the AFC East and a team that's bound for the playoffs.

So, to be blunt: Don't screw it up, Jets.

Handle the prosperity with aplomb, beat the Rams to get to 6-3, and you'll assure yourselves of a compelling trip to Foxborough next Thursday to play the hated Patriots.

"We learned we can go into hostile environment and win a road game in our division," Jets RG Brandon MooreBrandon Moore said yesterday of the win in Buffalo, where the Jets had lost four of their past five. "If we want to be considered one of the top [teams] in our division and throughout the AFC, these are games we need to win, and we hadn't been successful in these games in the past.

"For that type of win to even mean anything in the future we have to continue it this week against the Rams."

The Jets last season were 1-7 and headed nowhere at the halfway point. Now, with that win in Buffalo, they have to be considered a pretty good shot to win the AFC East or at least get into the playoffs.

"It feels good to be in this position," Jets RB Thomas Jones said, "but we've still got lots of football left. Obviously our record is better [this year] and that makes all the difference in the world. When you're winning games, it makes you a lot more optimistic about the season and gives you a lot of energy in the locker room."

Mangini yesterday called the Jets' position "a good place to be."

"Obviously I'm happy with where we are in relationship to the rest of the division," he said. "But to me it's more being pleased with the way that we played on Sunday and the style that we played with - having a complete effort, finishing the game, all three phases, finishing the game, being complementary football. That's what we need to do to consistently win."

Jets DE Shaun Ellis made the point that the Jets have not even played their best football yet.

"We can play a whole lot better than we've played," Ellis said yesterday. "It's very encouraging for us to know that we haven't put it all together yet and once we do it'll be a good thing."

That good thing continues only with a follow-up win at home Sunday against the Rams.

"We're not looking past any team," Jones vowed. "We don't take anyone for granted."

"It [the approach this week] won't be any different for us than what we've done consistently," Mangini said. "You can't lose track of the next opponent, and you saw it again this week. Teams that were favored didn't quite do as well as they thought they'd do, and that's not uncommon.

"No matter who you play, they're good teams, they're well-coached teams, and it's a challenge. It doesn't matter what the record is, it doesn't matter what they've done before, it just matters what you do on that day."


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Posted: 3:03 am

November 4, 2008

New York Jets safety Abram Elam got an earful of ribbing on the plane ride back to New Jersey Sunday night about his slow-motion, 92-yard interception return for a touchdown against the Bills.

Elam, who picked off Trent Edwards in the second quarter, was nearly run down by Bills running back Marshawn Lynch.

"It's funny, Jerome (Henderson, the defensive backs coach) gives a test each week prior to the game, and (sometimes) they're not all just straight football questions," Eric Mangini recalled yesterday. "One of the questions was, 'If we pick the ball off and go 99 yards for a touchdown, who is most likely to do the following?'

"He had a list of things. One of them was, 'It doesn't matter, he can't run it back that far anyway.' So you had to assign a DB for each answer, and every DB put Abe down for that answer. I don't know whether Jerome was just being a prophet there or just lucky, but they all chose Abe. Maybe if it was 99 he wouldn't have got there, but 92, he did."

Elam said the "adrenaline was flowing and everything was happening so fast. I was just trying to get to the end zone. The last thing I wanted to do was get caught from behind on national TV.

"I had to show them there was not going to be any stopping me once I got the ball in my hands. Justin Miller was the first culprit I had to address (on the sideline) and then Coach Henderson as well, because those were the ones cracking on me Saturday night."


Thomas Jones scored one rushing TD last season. He has five already this season and is on pace for a 1,202-yard, 10-TD season.

"This is what I'm used to," Jones said. "Last year wasn't what I was used to. It was a tough situation. Every skill player on offense wants to score touchdowns. I came into this season more energetic and ready to go out there and score touchdowns, make plays and help us win."


Jets top draft pick, rookie LB Vernon Gholston, met with former Giants legendary LB Lawrence Taylor in a 90-minute tutorial session, a story first reported by foxsports.com

Gholston, who said the meeting came together when a mutual acquaintance of his and Taylor's reached out to LT for them to meet."I sat down and talked with him about how it was for him back in the day he played, making the transition," Gholston said. "It was definitely a confidence builder."

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Jets could be 5-3 with Pennington, tooBob Glauber

November 4, 2008

Doug the Jets Fan was incensed that I had chosen this topic for my column in today's newspaper: Did the Jets get the worst of the deal when they traded for Brett Favre, cut Chad Pennington and then saw him go to the division rival Dolphins?

"Stop it, would you?" Doug implored. "We just beat the Bills on the road, we're 5-3, we're tied for first place, so why do you have to bring that up? Just leave it alone, would you please?"

I tried to reason with him. Yes, the record is solid. Yes, the three-way tie with the Bills and Patriots for the AFC East lead indeed is promising. But with Pennington's Dolphins only a game out of first, isn't the issue at least in play?

"You don't understand," he said. "We're Jets fans. Our expectations aren't high to begin with. Just give us 9-7 and a loss in the wild-card round, and we'll take it. We really don't ask for much. Please. Can't we just enjoy the moment?"

Bob Glauber Bio | E-mail | Recent columns

OK, go ahead, Doug. Enjoy the moment. Same goes for every other Jets fan who has lived through all the angst of the last ... oh, 40 years or so. Enjoy.

After all, it really is cool to be sitting in a three-way tie for first with the Bills and the Tom Brady-less Patriots. But I still say it's a fair question as we cross the halfway mark of this intriguing season. Come to think of it, the fact that it's even a question at all suggests that the Jets might not be getting the better end of the deal.

Ask yourselves: If Pennington were still here, could the Jets still be 5-3?

I say the answer is yes.

And if Pennington were still here, would the Dolphins be 4-4 and in the hunt at the halfway mark?

I say the answer is no way. Not with rookie Chad Henne or second-year quarterback John Beck at the controls.

That's why I believe Doug the Jets Fan knows this in his heart of hearts. As does every other Jets fan who has wrestled with the merits of the Favre deal.

That need not lessen the enjoyment of 5-3 and a share of first place, because you always cherish the good times.

But Jets fans know about the underbelly of expectation: For all the promise Favre has given them, they know the hope he offers might not last much longer. They know that once the season ends, this might be it. And they know that if his penchant for throwing the ball to the other guys does not subside, there might be more Jets-like nightmares in the next two months.

Which would be made all the more disturbing if Pennington led his new team to the playoffs and Favre didn't.

Favre already has 12 interceptions, another of which was returned for a touchdown by the Bills. He had one returned for a TD - along with another close call - the week before against the Chiefs.

Favre also has seven fumbles, two of which were recovered by the opposition. That's 14 turnovers in all. In his last four games, Favre has three touchdown passes and eight interceptions.

Pennington has seven touchdown passes and four interceptions to go with zero lost fumbles - the kind of stats he was known for during his years with the Jets. Believe it or not, his 8.2-yard average completion is better than Favre's 6.9-yard average.

And that's why you can't simply look at the Favre trade in a vacuum. It has to be viewed with an eye toward Pennington as well. And so far, despite the improved record for the Jets, I say the advantage right now goes to the Dolphins.

They've got a 32-year-old quarterback who anchors the most important position on any football team, and he's theirs for the foreseeable future.

You can't say as much for the Jets and Favre. He hasn't given any indication what his plans are for next year, but it would come as zero surprise if he were to hang it up after this year. He will have proved to himself that he still can play, but does he come back in 2009, when he'll turn 40?

There's a good chance he won't. That's why these next eight weeks weigh so heavily on the Jets' fate.

A second-half run to the playoffs, and Doug the Jets Fan can feel a lot better about things. Anything less, and the torture lives on.

And if that regular-season finale Dec. 28 against Pennington's Dolphins shapes up as a winner-take-all ... oh, my.

Chad vs. Brett

Bob Glauber Bio | E-mail | Recent columns

Comparing the midseason statistics for Brett Favre and Chad Pennington


Comp./Att. Pct. Yds. Avg. TD INT Sacks Rtg.

163/242 67.4 1,991 8.2 7 4 13 95.2


Comp./Att. Pct. Yds. Avg. TD INT Sacks Rtg.

180/263 68.4 1,812 6.9 15 12 16 87.8

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Elam was named most likely to succeedBY ERIK BOLAND | erik.boland@newsday.com

November 4, 2008

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Last week, defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson decided to have some fun with his group. He passed out a test with one of the questions reading this way, as recalled yesterday by coach Eric Mangini: "If we pick the ball off and go 99 yards for a touchdown, who is most likely to do the following."

Henderson had a list of options, Mangini said, "and one of them was: 'It doesn't matter; he can't run it back that far anyways.'"

Players had to assign a defensive back for each answer, and for the latter one, Mangini said, "every DB put Abe down for that answer."

That would be Abram Elam, who started in place of injured safety Eric Smith on Sunday and ended up making the most memorable play of the Jets' 26-17 win.

Elam intercepted a Trent Edwards pass on the final play of the first quarter and returned it 92 yards for a touchdown to give the Jets a 13-7 lead. As he crossed midfield, it appeared he might be caught, but Elam found a second burst of speed. After he caught his breath, he had a message for his teammates.

"When I got to the sideline, I had to let them know that there was no stopping me once I got the ball in my hands," Elam said yesterday on a conference call.

But getting the last laugh on his teammates wasn't Elam's motivation. "The last thing I wanted to do," he said, "was to get caught on national television."

More praise for Jenkins

Nose tackle Kris Jenkins was the talk of both locker rooms Sunday after helping limit the Bills to 30 rushing yards and getting two sacks and three quarterback hurries. A close-up of the 349-pound Jenkins hovering over Edwards after his fourth-quarter sack was spread across the front page of yesterday's sports section of the Buffalo News with this headline:

"Mound of Trouble."

"Oh, man, he dominated," defensive end Shaun Ellis said. "That's what he can do. He does a great job of pushing the middle. He puts a lot of pressure on the run game. He does it all. He's a force to be reckoned with."

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Recent success makes last year a thing of past-BY ERIK BOLAND | erik.boland@newsday.com

November 4, 2008

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Given the opportunity to compare, Brandon Moore passed.

"I'm really not even thinking about last year," Moore said yesterday when asked to contrast the feeling in the locker room after eight games last year with the same point this season. "There's some things you take from a season like that; there's a lot of things you just leave it where they are. I'm just having fun right now. We're in the thick of it."

That's a place they certainly were not a year ago at the midpoint of the season. The 2007 Jets, coincidentally, played their eighth game against the Bills and lost, 13-3, dropping to 1-7 (they would fall to 1-8 the following week against Washington).

The word "contention" was used in the second half of the season only in reference to the following April's draft; meaningful games were nonexistent.

But after Sunday's road victory at Buffalo and New England's loss to Indianapolis, the Jets are in a three-way tie atop the AFC East with the Patriots and Bills at 5-3. Moore said he was aware when he got up yesterday morning what had happened the night before when the Patriots lost to the Colts.

"I read the papers somewhat and I understand where we are in the division, I saw that they [the Patriots] had lost and I knew what the standings were," Moore said. "But we still have a long way to go. Getting caught up in where we are right now really doesn't matter. This next game is the most important game. Winning and being tied right now, nobody remembers that in December when it's all said and done."

The Jets used words such as "huge," "big" and "great" in the locker room after Sunday's game, but they already were moving on yesterday. The struggling Rams (2-6) come to the Meadowlands on Sunday, and the Jets hit the road after that with games at New England on a Thursday night (Nov. 13) and at currently unbeaten Tennessee (Nov. 23).

The good feelings of the Bills' win combined with a lesser upcoming opponent might make Sunday a classic trap game, but the Jets experienced that once this season with their 16-13 overtime loss at Oakland on Oct. 19.

"We're not looking past any team," running back Thomas Jones said. "The St. Louis Rams have some great players on their team and they're capable of winning football games. They won against Washington, who everyone expected to win. We don't take anyone for granted."

Moore said the Jets learned some significant things about themselves in Buffalo, but what they accomplished would be invalidated with a slip-up this Sunday.

"We learned we could go into a hostile environment and win a road game," Moore said. "These are the games that if we want to be considered one of the top [teams] in our division and throughout the AFC, these are the games we need to win. We hadn't been as successful with these games in the past. But moving forward and moving on to the Rams, we have to continue it for that type of win to even mean anything for us in the future."

One player who did, at least momentarily, reflect on last year was Jones, who had a miserable 2007, never getting into a rhythm running the ball (3.6 yards per carry) and scoring only one touchdown. This season, Jones is averaging 4.5 yards and already has scored six TDs, five rushing.

"Our record is better; that makes all the difference in the world," Jones said. "When you're winning football games and you're above .500, it makes you a lot more optimistic about the season. It gives you a lot of energy in the locker room. You're definitely more energetic about practicing and getting ready for the games."

Games during the second half of this season that, unlike 2007, will have meaning.

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Jets faithful: We're G-O-N-E! because of PSLs at new stadium



Tuesday, November 4th 2008, 12:38 AM

They never miss a home game. For 20 years, they've been in the same seats at the Meadowlands, section 131, row 19 - the 49-yard line on the visitor's side. It's a prime location, so close to the field that Bob Yost and Stephen Giaramita, longtime friends, tell people it's like watching the Jets on a 100-yard HDTV.

Sometimes the days are magical, like Dec. 29, 2002, when the Jets went from playoff longshots to AFC East champions during a rollercoaster afternoon that ended with a rout of the Packers. Sometimes the days are torture; take your pick. But that's part of being a Jets fan, enduring years of pain for fleeting moments of euphoria. Yost and Giaramita are okay with that because even when it's bad, it isn't that bad.


"I still get excited when I walk down the aisle. It's beautiful, like heaven," says Giaramita, 42. "It takes your mind off Monday to Friday, 9 to 5."


For Giaramita, a commodities trader from Bayside, and Yost, a New York City fireman from Staten Island - along with an untold number of season-ticket holders - the good times are coming to an end. They are surrendering to the three most dreaded words in the sports fan's lexicon: personal seat license.

Based on their current location, Giaramita and Yost's seats in the new stadium would be in a section dubbed the "Great Hall Club," and that translates to a great cost. They've been told their PSL fee is $25,000 for each seat (they have four season tickets), plus $700 per game ticket.


That's $128,000, which includes the PSLs and tickets for the first season, 2010. The club's brochure makes it seem swanky, as members receive on-field access behind the visitor's bench and all food and non-alcoholic beverages included in the season-ticket price, but Giaramita and Yost simply can't afford those prices.

They're planning to bail - completely.

Turned off by the entire concept of PSLs, they've eschewed cheaper alternatives being offered by the Jets. They could opt to move to the upper deck, where the 27,000 seats have no PSL fees, but Giaramita and Yost don't want that, either.

"It's a money grab," says Yost, 44. "It's a shame they're getting away with it. (Owner Woody Johnson) is a billionaire; he should be able to build his own stadium without our money. They're pricing us right out. Does it get any greedier?"

Adds Giamarita: "I don't need another house payment."

The Jets, splitting the cost of the estimated $1.7 billion stadium with the Giants, believe PSLs are necessary to meet construction costs. As for loyal fans such as Giamarita and Yost, "We understand that PSLs aren't for everyone, and that's why our plan has a lot of options," says Thad Sheely, the club's vice president for stadium development and finance. "If you're a diehard Jets fan and can't afford a PSL, there's a seat for you on the 50-yard line in the upper bowl."

Yost is one of those diehard fans, attending Jets games since 1978. He and Giaramita are former roommates who became friends more than 20 years ago. Officially, the four tickets are in Giaramita's name, but they split the cost and invite two guests, usually other firemen.

Yost says he'll stay home and watch on his 62-inch TV.

The Daily News contacted several irate season-ticket holders, most of whom refused to go on the record because they felt it would jeopardize their chances of securing even a non-PSL seat in the upper deck (the club says seat assignments aren't subjective decisions; they're based on seniority). Most fans are upset, but not enough to take their business elsewhere.

Frank Mongiello, of Keyport, N.J., is one of those fans who are torn between their checkbook and their allegiance to their team. Mongiello, 61, a retired mailman, says he will be forced to surrender his six mezzanine and field-level tickets, which he has had since 1976. He says he cried the day the ducats arrived in the mail some 32 years ago.

Recently, he sent a letter to Johnson, denouncing the club for showing no loyalty to its longtime ticket holders, yet he's not prepared to walk away and is leaning toward a move to the upper deck, where he began in '76.

"What can I say? I'm a Jets lunatic," says Mongiello.

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Fireman Ed calls Jets Gang Greed

BY Rich Cimini


Tuesday, November 4th 2008, 12:52 AM


Jets fan 'Fireman Ed' isn't a supporter of the Jets' decision to implement PSLs.

Fireman Ed is mad. M-A-D, Mad! Mad! Mad!


The Jets' most famous supporter, Ed Anzalone is appalled and disappointed that his beloved team is requiring most its fan base to purchase personal seat licenses. After months of holding his tongue, Anzalone, a season ticket holder since 1976, is ready to stand up and boo.

"I love the New York Jets, I love the green and white and I love the fans - I have nothing but passion for the fans and the team - but the organization has continued to drop the ball," Anzalone said.


In a phone interview, which included a lengthy rant against owner Woody Johnson for his decision to co-own the new stadium with the Giants, Anzalone claimed the Jets are ripping off the common fan.

"This is pathetic," says Anzalone, who owns four seats in section 134, where the PSL would be $10,000 or $12,500 per seat. "I'm so twisted by the fact that they went with the Giants to begin with. Now you're going to have the (audacity) to charge your fans twice?"


Anzalone, a stadium icon known for leading the celebrated "J-E-T-S, Jets! Jets! Jets!" cheer, says he pays full price for his tickets.

But for how much longer?

"You won't see me in these seats (in the new stadium)," said Anzalone, 49, who retired last year from the city's fire department. "I don't know what's going to happen. Maybe I'll go upstairs. Maybe I'll fork over four grand for an end-zone seat. I love the Jets so much, maybe I'll get my tickets on Stub Hub.

"I just want to enjoy this year and next," he continued. "Maybe, with a little of God's luck, we'll win a championship. If that happens, I'm moving on, bro."

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Despite election result, a happy return for Abram Elam



In a lighthearted questionnaire presented last week to the Jets' defensive backs, courtesy of secondary coach Jerome Henderson, safety Abram Elam was voted by his peers the DB least likely to score on a 99-yard interception return. Obviously, he's not renowned for his speed.

On Sunday, Elam got the last laugh, scoring on a 92-yard interception return - the biggest play in the Jets' 26-17 win over the Bills. He barely made it, running out of gas at the end, but it afforded him a chance to gloat.

"When I got to the sideline, I had to let them know there was no stopping me once I got the ball in my hands," Elam said Monday, reflecting on his first career interception.

Elam started for the injured Eric Smith, who was experiencing post-concussion symptoms.

WORD GAME: Eric Mangini Monday downplayed his comments to the team Thursday, when he told players that nobody's job was safe, according to Laveranues Coles. According to Mangini, he reminded the team his system is "a meritocracy. We're going to play the best players." Mangini didn't see it as a threat; evidently, others did.

LOWERY SITS: Mangini didn't give a reason for benching rookie CB Dwight Lowery in the second half, although it's clear that Lowery's performance has slipped in recent weeks. He was replaced by David Barrett. ... RB Thomas Jones has five rushing TDs. A year ago, he had only one. "I think we have the best offensive line in the league," he said. ... Leon Washington knew exactly what to do on the out-of-bounds kickoff, purposely fielding it with one foot out of bounds, because the same situation occurred in practice two weeks ago. ... The Jets have 29 sacks, equaling last season's total. ... Brett Favre struggled in the red zone, completing only one of seven passes for minus-3 yards. All told, the Jets ran 14 plays inside the 20, netting only one yard.

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Tied at top of the AFC East, first-rate Jets say best is yet to come



Monday, November 3rd 2008, 8:15 PM


Brett Favre and the Jets might finally be pointed in the right direction.

What a difference a week makes. And a weakened division.


After enduring several days of criticism for a lackluster win over the lowly Chiefs, the Jets went to bed Sunday night with a share of first place in the AFC East - and a new outlook on a season that seemed to be fading after a nothing-special October.

Their impressive victory in Buffalo, coupled with the Patriots' prime-time loss to the Colts, created a three-way tie in the Tom Brady-less division. To use one of Bill Parcells' old lines, they're stacked up like club sandwiches. The Jets, Patriots and Bills are 5-3, with the upstart Dolphins lurking at 4-4.

The Jets haven't owned a share of the lead this late in the season since 2002, when they captured the title on the final day of the season. The last time they reached the midpoint in this position was 2000, under Al Groh. The best part, according to Shaun Ellis, is the belief they still haven't played their best football.


"It seems like we haven't put it all together; we can play a whole lot better than we've played," the veteran defensive end said Monday. "It's very encouraging for us to know that once we do, it'll bring good things."

They'll have to play better, because the schedule is about to turn nasty. After the Rams (2-6) at home - can you say "trap" game? - the Jets will face the Patriots and undefeated Titans, both on the road.

A week ago, the Jets didn't seem capable of threatening the big boys, but after upsetting the Bills - their most complete performance of the season, according to Eric Mangini - their confidence level has soared.

"If we want to be considered the top team in our division and throughout the AFC, those are the kind of games we need to win," guard Brandon Moore said.

What did it do for the Jets?


In the span of three hours, the interception-prone Brett Favre turned into an efficient game manager. The high-priced offensive line, underwhelming through the first seven games, didn't allow a sack and controlled the line of scrimmage during an 8-minute, 41-second drive that broke the Bills' will - "pretty impressive," Moore said. The defense, mired in a takeaway drought, forced three huge turnovers, all of which produced points or saved points.

Just like that, the perception of the Jets changed.

"Obviously, I'm happy to be where we are," Mangini said, "but to me it's more about being pleased with the way we played on Sunday."

He mentioned the "style" of the victory, and how the Jets finished strongly. For the fourth straight game, the defense didn't allow a touchdown in the fourth quarter. The Bills scored on an interception return, as the Chiefs did in the previous game. If it weren't for Favre's costly interceptions, the Jets would be a dominant fourth-quarter team.

Despite the killer mistakes, the Jets have won four of their last five games - almost quietly, if that's possible. Only four other teams can make that claim. Now the question becomes, can the Jets maintain the prosperity?

Their defense, ranked second in sacks (29) and fourth against the run in the league, is playing as well as any defense in the AFC East. That could be huge in a division that lacks an overpowering offense. In terms of strength of schedule, the Jets, Bills and Patriots are just about equal. The combined record of the Jets' opponents is 32-32.

In other words, the team that gets hot and stays healthy probably will walk away with the division.

"We know it's going to be a tough ride," Ellis said. "We know the season is going to be long and teams will be playing us harder because of Brett, but we've just got to keep burning it up."

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Dave Hutchinson with the New York Jets

by Dave Hutchinson/The Star-Ledger

Monday November 03, 2008, 11:34 PM


More and more, Jets running back Thomas Jones is looking like the franchise back who led the Chicago Bears to the Super Bowl XLI.

The workmanlike Jones ranks second in the AFC and ninth in the NFL with 601 yards and five touchdowns on 134 carries (a healthy 4.5-yard average) this season. He also has 20 catches for 104 yards and a score.

Last season the ninth-year pro has just one touchdown on 310 carries, rushing for 1,119 yards and a paltry 3.6-yard average.

Scoring touchdowns "is what I'm used to," said Jones, who has 40 career rushing TDs.

"Last year was definitely not what I was used to. It was a tough situation. As an offensive skill player, you want to score touchdowns. I came into this season more energetic and ready to go out there and score touchdowns and make plays and help us win."

Mission accomplished.

On Sunday, Jones rushed for 69 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries and caught six passes for 38 yards. He had a 23-yard run and a key 1-yard reception for a first down on the Jets' game-sealing, 14-play, 65-yard march that chewed up 8 minutes, 41 seconds.

"We knew we had to run the clock down," Jones said Monday. "We were able to get some decent runs. ... We have one of the best offensive lines in the league in my opinion. Our fullback, Tony Richardson, is a great fullback. I'm really happy and blessed to be playing with him. Any running back would love to be in this situation."


The Jets rang up five more sacks against the Bills and now have 29, a number that matches their total of last season and is second in the league behind the Giants (30).

The key? How about run-stuffing NT Kris Jenkins.

Jenkins, a shockingly athletic 6-4, 360 pounds, has three sacks and six quarterback pressures this season. He had two sacks and three pressures versus the Bills with one pressure leading to S Abram Elam's 92-yard interception return for a TD. He also had five tackles to help limit the Bills to just 30 yards rushing.

"We're able to stop the run," said DE Shaun Ellis, who has a team-high seven sacks. "You stop the run game, you're going to get sacks. Last year we didn't stop the run. Teams were just able to pound the ball on us.

"Now teams are starting out with the run but realizing they can't sustain it. We know they have to pass."

The Jets rank fourth in the league in run defense, allowing 76 yards per game.


-- Coach Eric Mangini said the Jets practice the heads-up play made by KR Leon Washington when he put one foot out of bounds and touched a kickoff near the sideline, meaning the ball was out of bounds by rule. It allowed the Jets to get the ball at the 40-yard line. Four plays later they scored a TD.

-- During meetings on Saturday night, S Abram Elam was voted by his fellow defensive backs as the least likely to return an interception 99 yards for a touchdown. He nearly ran out of gas on his 92-yarder return against the Bills.

"When I got to the sidelines I had to let them know," said Elam, adding that he first went to CB Justin Miller and DB coach Jerome Henderson because they razzed him the most. "I had a clear field in front of me and the last thing I wanted to do was get caught on national television."

-- CB Darrelle Revis (NFL-high tying four interceptions) and NT Kris Jenkins (25 tackles, three sacks and six quarterback hurries) are making bids for the Pro Bowl.

-- Mangini confirmed that rookie CB Dwight Lowery was benched against the Bills. Lowery has been overwhelmed in recent games because teams are staying away from Revis. Veteran David Barrett replaced Lowery.

-- QB Brett Favre continues to have a sense of humor about his interceptions. After the Bills game, he said, "It's one of those games where we won the game and I didn't throw a touchdown pass -- at least to us."

Bills CB Jabari Greer returned a Favre interception 42 yards for a TD.

-- Mangini repeated that he has no second thoughts about declining an ineligible-man-downfield penalty that allowed the Bills to get a first down on a third-and-16 instead of attempting a 43-yard FG.

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Jets Rise in the East, but Aren’t Satisfied


Published: November 3, 2008

The results came down like dominos, three games played in three time slots Sunday that turned the American Football Conference East into the tightest division race in pro football.

Brett Favre and the Jets, who are tied for the division lead with the Bills and the Patriots, have a difficult November schedule.

First, the Jets upset Buffalo on the road in an afternoon divisional game. Then Miami beat Denver in the evening. Finally, Indianapolis capped the day with a victory over New England that finished close to midnight.

Three games in 11 hours put the A.F.C. East’s teams into a bunch formation. The Bills’ and Patriots’ losses, coupled with the Jets’ win, put those teams in a three-way tie for first place at 5-3. The Dolphins’ victory left them a game behind the leaders at 4-4.

“It’s an extremely competitive division,” Jets Coach Eric Mangini said. “It’s about as balanced as you can get at this point in the season. We all play each other here throughout the next eight games, and that’s going to decide it.”

The three teams that are tied for first took very different routes to identical records.

The Jets stumbled through their first two months. They lost a game in Oakland they insist they should have won, then followed that with a near loss against Kansas City and their upset of the Bills.

The Bills started 4-0, but lost three of their next four games. Their season started coming unhinged when quarterback Trent Edwards struggled after sustaining a concussion against Arizona and a spate of injuries followed.

The Patriots lost quarterback Tom Brady in their opener, but plugged backups into the most efficient system in the league. Despite their own share of injuries, they find themselves in the best immediate position with home games coming up against the Bills and the Jets.

“It feels good to be in this position,” Jets running back Thomas Jones said Monday. “But we still have a lot of football left.”

Especially against each other. The Jets’ brutal November schedule, which includes road games against the Patriots and the undefeated Tennessee Titans, gives way to a December that features home games against the Bills and the Dolphins.

In fact, the Dolphins and the Jets close the regular season at Giants Stadium with a game that could have playoff implications and holds potential for revenge. It should be a strange sight: Chad Pennington, the quarterback the Jets released when they traded for Brett Favre, on the opposite sideline, the Jets in his sights.

Pennington ranks among the most important off-season pickups in a division that welcomed Buffalo’s Marcus Stroud, Favre and Jets nose tackle Kris Jenkins. Part of Bill Parcells’s latest makeover, Pennington has already led the Dolphins to wins against the Patriots and the Bills.

That the Jets find themselves in this mix comes as somewhat of a surprise, given their uneven play during October. Not that they are satisfied, by any means.

Asked Monday how much fun the Jets were having being in first place, defensive end Shaun Ellis, the longest-tenured Jet, who has been around long enough not to get too excited, said: “It’s not fun. We’re not worrying or focusing on that. We can’t worry about first or who’s winning or losing.”

To a man, the Jets took that approach a day after their most important road win since the 2006 season. Sure, they improved Mangini’s record against teams with winning records to 3-9. Yes, they played their most complete game of the season.

But they also overcame a sloppy first quarter against the Bills that included two blown coverages, a bobbled snap in the shotgun formation, a personal foul, an encroachment penalty and a questionable decision to accept a penalty after the Bills failed to convert on third down.

The quarter was the perfect microcosm of their season. It has not always been aesthetically pleasing, but the end result has been positive. The Jets led after the first quarter, 13-7.

“It’s very encouraging to know that we haven’t put it all together,” Ellis said. “Once we do, it will bring good things.”

Jones noted a different energy in the locker room of a winning team, a bounce in the Jets’ collective step, a reason to look forward to their next practice. Mangini told the Jets last week that none of their jobs were safe, and they played like it on Sunday.

Which is all well and good, but only halfway there.

“Winning and being tied right now, nobody remembers that in December,” right guard Brandon Moore said.

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