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Ellis, Elam, Defense Rise Up in the Nick of Time


2008 Week 15 - Jets vs Bills Photos

The New York Jets' defense came up with the big plays that they needed to edge the Buffalo Bills on Sunday and keep their playoff hopes alive.

Defensive captain Shaun Ellis' 11-yard fumble return for a touchdown put the Jets up, 31-27, and gave the defense its fifth TD of the season, setting a franchise record.

"I just saw Elam get the ball out, and it popped right to me," Ellis said. "It kind of hit me the first time and got away, and then I got it back to me. It was a good play.

"A lot of guys get in that situation and do not come up with it or the other team falls on it. I was trying to focus on getting the ball in my hands. After that, I was just trying to make a play."

Jets safety Abram Elam got the ball out by strip-sacking the Bills' J.P. Losman, continuing his trend of making key plays this season. Elam had a 92-yard interception return at Buffalo and his strip-sack vs. St. Louis produced Calvin Pace's 50-yard return TD.

"He's a big-play specialist," Jets head coach Eric Mangini said. "What you like about Abe is that whatever you ask him to do, he always does it to the best of his ability."

Contributions to the victory came from all corners of the defensive unit, and that may be due in part to a defensive-players-only meeting held Ruth's Chris steakhouse in Parsippany earlier this week.

"It was great," said cornerback Darrelle Revis. "It was the whole defense. We just wanted to see how guys felt about how the season was going and what we need to accomplish as a team. A lot of guys stood up and talked and said what they had to say. We feel for guys on this team. We trust one another. We believe in each other, so we have to go out on the field and do that as well.

"This game right here just proved how hard we've been working during the week and how guys were laying it on the line for the other teammates."

"We knew this was going to be a hard fought game," said Elam. "Every time the Jets and the Bills play, it goes down to the wire. We were out there competing. We just wanted to keep grinding it out and knew something good would happen eventually."

"You just don't want to miss it," he said of the chance to make a play on Losman. "You know that that's your opportunity to make a play and you want to seize that."

Ellis' fumble return for a touchdown was his first score in his nine NFL seasons.

"We just wanted to come out and do the best we could do and help our team, and try to make a play," he said. "We knew coming to this ballgame it was going to be a tough fourth-quarter game. We talked about it all week. We had to make plays to win the game."

Offensive players on the sideline were equally impressed with Ellis' efforts.

"I saw it on the Jumbotron and he looked pretty good," said Thomas Jones. "He's 300 pounds and he's spinning and running."

"I don't think you can teach that kind of stuff," said Laveranues Coles. "I don't even think he knew what direction he was supposed to go in. It was funny to see him, but I'm just happy for him."

The Jets were able to gain steam after their first meeting with the Bills this season and the team hopes to repeat that momentum as it makes its push to qualify for the postseason.

"With four minutes left, we punted, they had the ball, and we looked at each other in the eyes," said Revis. "It was like 'We need to get a stop, we need to make a play.' And our guys stepped up tremendously to make plays."

"We just believe in each other," said Elam. "We know that we make each other accountable and know that in order for this team to go far, we on the defensive end are going to have to step up and make plays when the time comes."

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