FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The New York Jets don't want their season to be defined by last Sunday's controversial fumble by Austin Seferian-Jenkins. They'd rather it be defined by a heroic fumble recovery from last month.
In their first meeting against the Miami Dolphins, whom they face Sunday in South Florida, quarterback Josh McCown reached back to throw a pass and got blasted by Ndamukong Suh. The ball came flying out, almost like a half-fumble, half-pass. It went about 20 yards from the crash site, toward the Jets' sideline.
Only one Miami player bothered to engage in the chase.
Somehow, McCown, 38, the oldest guy on the field, recovered the fumble. The play didn't garner any attention in the media, maybe because the Jets were ahead 17-0 at the time, but it was talked about the next day in their meeting rooms. Four weeks later, it still resonates with them as one of the plays -- perhaps the play -- that best captures what this team is all about.
"We've got a lot of grit," tackle Kelvin Beachum said. "We may not be the star-studded team that people are used to, but we've got a lot of grit. We have a lot of pride in how we play this game. That comes from our head coach. It's a reflection of him. We're coached that way. We're talked to quite a bit about that."
Todd Bowles has established the right mindset with his team, which needed a personality transplant after the 2016 debacle. They still don't have enough talent to beat elite teams -- and the schedule includes a few in the coming weeks -- but their mental toughness will serve them well against teams like Miami (3-2). The Dolphins are superior on paper but they run hot and cold, much like their quarterback Jay Cutler.
Conversely, the Jets feed off McCown, who doesn't have Cutler's arm or pedigree but plays with a fiery competitiveness that is contagious. That fumble recovery on Sept. 24 said everything about him -- not flashy enough for the TV highlight shows, but good enough to earn praise from teammates and old-school types. It impressed the grumpy coach up in New England, as he highlighted the play last week in a news conference a couple of days before facing the Jets.
"For Josh to sell out, as a team and as a teammate ... when you see that guy diving for what could've been an incomplete ball, it says a lot about his competitiveness and his intellect, too," backup quarterback Bryce Petty said. "If there's any gray area, that could be a game-changing play."
The mentality was established in the offseason, when new offensive coordinator John Morton hammered home the importance of ball security. Every coach preaches it, but Morton is relentless. As Beachum said, "It's all about the ball. Our hopes and dreams are in that ball." He said it's their No. 1 priority on offense.
McCown's recovery and Powell's fall-down, get-up touchdown run against the Jacksonville Jaguars -- 75 yards, their longest play of the year -- are two prime examples of the Jets' no-quit attitude. Petty called Powell "one of the headiest dudes I've ever been around," which is one of the reasons he's still around.
To be fair, the Dolphins showed plenty of resilience last week, rallying from a 17-0 halftime deficit to beat the defending NFC champion Atlanta Falcons 20-17. Sunday's game sets up as an ugly, low-scoring slugfest -- "a dogfight," Bowles predicted.
Sounds like the Jets' kind of game.