EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Three weeks ago, the New York Jets were a broken team, with rumors swirling about Adam Gase's job security. One-and-done? Heck, there was speculation he wouldn't make it to "one." It prompted CEO Christopher Johnson to deliver perhaps the earliest vote of confidence in NFL history, telling the team at 1-7 he had no intention of making a coaching change.
Talk about turning points.
The Jets -- the Jets! -- are one of the hottest teams in the league, winners of three consecutive games after a 34-3 rout of the Oakland Raiders on Sunday at MetLife Stadium. The Jets (4-7), not the Raiders (6-5), played like the team in playoff contention. Here's the crazy thing: With the lowly Cincinnati Bengals and Miami Dolphins up next on the schedule, they could be 6-7 for a Thursday night game against the Baltimore Ravens.
Who kidnapped the mistake-prone misfits that tripped over themselves through the month of September? What happened to the team that embarrassed itself with a loss to the previously winless Dolphins?
In beating the Raiders, the Jets proved they can beat a quality team and a quality quarterback, Derek Carr. They held a 30-point lead for the second consecutive week -- a franchise first, according to Elias Sports. They hit the 34-point mark for the third time, something they had done only twice previously.
Behind closed doors, Gase told his players they needed to play complementary football to beat the Raiders -- and they did. The offense scored on five of its first six possessions and the defense played its best game of the year, holding rookie rushing sensation Josh Jacobs to only 34 yards on 10 carries and limiting Carr to only 127 passing yards.
In other words, they played a damn-near-perfect game against Jon Gruden. In "Chucky" fashion, it was child's play.
Describe the game in two words: Thirty-four. The Jets scored 34 points for the third straight game -- their new magic number. It’s the first time in the Super Bowl era that a team scored exactly 34 points in three straight games, per ESPN Stats & Info.
QB breakdown: Sam Darnold delivered another strong game, throwing two touchdowns, rushing for one and passing for 315 yards. Dude is hot. He made great decisions, used his legs to buy time and threw the ball away instead of forcing it. It was his third game with no interceptions. When Darnold plays like this, the Jets have real hope for the future.
Breakout performance: Welcome back, Robby Anderson. After only four receptions in the previous three games, Anderson rebounded in a big way -- four catches for 86 yards and a touchdown. Gase, trying to get him involved in the offense, made a concerted effort to move Anderson around the formation, hoping to create favorable matchups. It worked so well that they hit him for 31 yards on a double-reverse, flea-flicker pass.
Promising trend: Earlier in the season, the Jets' offensive line was so inept that it couldn't block anyone on Twitter, let alone opposing players. The much-maligned group overcame yet another injury (right tackle Chuma Edoga, knee) and delivered its finest performance of the season. The Jets allowed one sack and did enough in the running game to provide balance for the offense. Running back Le'Veon Bell, who averaged 4.0 yards per carry for only the second time, looked better than he had in weeks.
Eye-popping NextGen Stat: 20.95 mph -- Braxton Berrios' speed on his 69-yard reception in the third quarter. Who knew he was that fast? It was only the fourth catch of the season for the diminutive wide receiver.