FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The New York Jets took a 4-1 record into their last encounter with the New England Patriots, feeling pretty good about themselves. But not nearly as good as they feel now, according to safety Calvin Pryor.
"We're playing at a very high level and with a purpose," Pryor said Tuesday. "When we played them the first time, we felt like we could play with them, but we didn't feel like we could dominate and win that game. I'm thinking it's a different mindset now that we have."
A four-game winning streak will do wonders for a team's state of mind. The Jets (9-5) haven't won this many in a row since 2010, their last playoff season, so they have every reason to be confident. Pryor's words speak volumes.
There's no doubt the Jets are a better team than they were on Oct. 25, when they lost a heartbeaker at Gillette Stadium, 30-23. The passing attack is better, as Ryan Fitzpatrick has grown comfortable with his main targets, Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. Since then, Bilal Powell and Quincy Enunwa have emerged as secondary options in the passing game. Defensively, there's more cohesiveness, resulting in fewer big plays.
"I think we’ve improved," Fitzpatrick said. "I think, offensively, we’ve all got a little bit better understanding of who we are and how to get things accomplished, got a better feel for each other. With that being said, we’ve got to go out there and do it. We have to go out there and make sure that the chemistry that we’ve built up is shown on Sunday."
On the downside, the running game has regressed and the special teams still is making too many mistakes.
To a man, the Jets believe they've improved over the past two months. They certainly have shown more poise in the fourth quarter, which could be a big factor against the Patriots (12-2), known for years as an outstanding crunch-time team.
"I don't know if we're different or we're better. We've grown," coach Todd Bowles said. "We're playing together and they trust each other a little more. We have better chemistry. That comes with the season going forward."