David Bowens got the first interception of his career Sunday when he picked off San Francisco 49ers QB Shaun Hill in the third quarter.
"It was a freebie," the linebacker said Monday back at the Jets' Atlantic Health Training Center. "I just dropped in my zone and he threw it right to me. It wasn't like I dove or tipped it. But it set up a score, so I was pretty pleased about that."
The Jets didn't end up pulling out the victory in San Francisco, though, and Bowens said the flight home felt like one of his longest.
"I think we have to figure out what we did in those eight wins," he said of the Jets' 8-5 record, adding of the victories: "I think the level of communication was a lot better. Our tackling was better. Missed assignments were down. Penalties were down. Things like that — intangible things that don't show up in statistics — those are the things we need to do better."
Bowens offered some insight as to why the Jets may have lost the momentum they gained earlier this season, culminating with the defeat of the Tennessee Titans.
"I kind of got complacent," he said of his role as special teams captain. "I'll be the first to admit it. Winning eight games, everybody was kind of in their mode of doing things, preparing. I didn't think there'd be a falloff in the game and there was. I saw that on the field during practice and I just didn't say anything.
"I'm a victim myself. I think I could've run better in practice to the ball, know my assignments more. I play about five positions on the team. I've just got to study more, things like that. If I see that and I notice that, first of all I'll correct myself, then I'll trickle it down to everyone else."
He was asked if the recent media-driven hype suggesting the Jets could be Super Bowl-bound had contributed to the lackluster performance of the past two games.
"It may have," Bowens said. "Personally it didn't. For me, my preparation is week in and week out. That's how I've always been. You could say it was a distraction because of what happened the last two of weeks, but if it was it can't be. We can't allow things like that.
"It's the old lobster trap – you just can't fall into that. Sometimes you have to turn the TV off for a while and watch movies all week like I do and just don't pay attention to it, and focus on what we have to do. Coach, every week, points out game-specific things and we have to execute those things and for the last two weeks we haven't."
Now in his 10th NFL season, Bowens has reached the postseason only once before. He doesn't want this team to miss out on its opportunity to get there but knows the players will have to work harder to reach their goals.
"I went home last night, or this morning," he said. "I got in and I started hearing that playoff music, the CBS games and things like that. Sitting at my house in Miami [in the off-season] having a barbecue with all my buddies and just saying 'That could be us.' Right now we have the option of being at home barbecuing or playing in those games.
"It's not like they're going to just put us there. We have to earn that spot. We have to get there and it's going to start with Buffalo. We have to take care of that and then the game after that ... I don't even know who we play."
Bowens showed accountability that is characteristic of many players who play in the NFL for as long as he has. It's also the kind of leadership the Jets will need to pick up steam heading into the final three games of the season.
"I think everyone is pointing the finger to themselves," he said. "Coach was pretty critical in our meeting this morning and no one took offense. All egos were set aside.
"I think as a leader and a captain on this team, one of the older guys, it's my job to keep everybody on track."