EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Little Brother rules.
Overcoming three sloppy quarters, the New York Jets delivered their biggest win under Todd Bowles, rallying from a 10-point deficit Sunday to stun the New York Giants in overtime 23-20 at MetLife Stadium. In a New York-New York minute, the Jets went from December frauds to legitimate playoff contenders.
They received clutch performances from Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brandon Marshall, Bilal Powell and Randy Bullock, who kicked a 31-yard field goal in overtime. They got there because they scored on their final three possessions, including a 9-yard touchdown reception by Marshall with 27 seconds left in regulation. The wild and memorable game ended on John Brown's missed field goal try from 48 yards.
What a game. It certainly lived up to the hype.
The Jets, perceived for decades as second-class citizens, snapped a five-game losing streak to the Giants. They showed the heart of a champion, getting help from a questionable coaching decision by Tom Coughlin, who eschewed a chip-shot field goal in the fourth quarter. The Jets made the clutch plays in the fourth quarter and overtime, delivering a signature win.
What it means: The Jets improved to 7-5 with their second straight win, staying in the thick of the AFC wild-card race.
One reason to get excited: Fitzpatrick passed 50 times for 390 yards and two touchdowns. He was brilliant, giving a franchise-quarterback type of performance in the crucible of a big December game. The offense slept for three quarters but came alive when it went to a hurry-up passing game, as Fitzpatrick and Marshall continued their storybook season.
One reason to panic: Once again, the Jets were undermined by their special teams -- the punt-coverage unit, to be specific. A low punt by Ryan Quigley, coupled with poor coverage, resulted in an 80-yard touchdown return by Dwayne Harris. The Jets fell for the ol' Beckham trick, as the Giants deployed their star as a decoy/returner. Odell Beckham Jr. pretended to get into position for a lateral pass from Harris, drawing three Jets to his side of the field. That left gaping holes in the coverage scheme. The Jets have allowed four touchdowns on special teams, and that's inexcusable. Later, the punt team was penalized for being offside, extending a Giants drive. Special-teams coordinator Bobby April might have to worry about his job.
What were they thinking? The Jets lost their poise (and focus) on a handful of key plays. The bench was hit with an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty because Willie Colon got in Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie's face after a Jets completion along the sideline. Colon, on injured reserve, was a bystander and had no business opening his mouth. They managed to overcome the penalty by scoring a touchdown, but it was a bad look for the team. Defensively, the Jets were guilty of a few busted coverages, one of which resulted in Beckham's 72-yard touchdown. It was a challenge without Darrelle Revis, but good teams find a way to adjust. It's not like they had a bunch of inexperienced players in the secondary. Safety Calvin Pryor sat for much of the second half, a possible benching.
What were they thinking? Part II: Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson was benched for the first quarter. The team provided no immediate explanation, but it was punitive. Wilkerson was late for a meeting, CBS Sports reported.
Fantasy watch: Fitzpatrick passed for 390 yards and two touchdowns. Marshall (12 catches for 131 yards) caught his 10th touchdown pass and became the first Jets receiver to reach 1,000 yards since Jerricho Cotchery in 2007.
What's next: The Jets remain at home to face the Tennessee Titans.