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Hobson, 'D' Need Big Game vs. Familiar Foes


Past success is no guarantee of future results. You can hear that phrase any given day on Wall Street and any given Sunday on Paterson Plank Road, one of the byways that takes fans to the Meadowlands.

But Victor Hobson wouldn't mind a little blast from the past to help him, his defense and his Jets get back on track at home against the Buffalo Bills today.

Reminded that it was Game 8 at Cleveland a year ago when the Jets' defense finally caught fire, Hobson smiled.

"We don't like to draw back on last year," the Jets linebacker said. "But if that happens, so be it. We definitely won't fight it."

The members of the Green & White defense know this is a big game for them, possibly their watershed game. Their key rankings are in the bottom fourth of the NFL (28th overall, 28th vs. the run, 26th vs. the pass, tied for 27th in scoring). Last week they gave up three of the Bengals' four unanswered TDs on successive second-half drives.

And while they respect their division rivals from western New York, they know they need a big game against Buffalo's offense, still being led by rookie QB Trent Edwards and rookie RB Marshawn Lynch. The Bills' "O" rankings are close to the Jets' "D" marks (31st overall, 20th on the run, 31st on the pass, 29th in scoring).

That big-game mentality could extend to Hobson, who was credited with no tackles last week by Cincinnati's pressbox stat crew and three by the Jets coaches' video breakdown.

Head coach Eric Mangini seemed to feel strongly both ways when asked Friday about Hobson's low-tackle game.

"I've seen that happen," Mangini said, adding, "You don't want anybody to play an entire game and not have a tackle and they don't want to be in that situation. It depends on what you're asking them to do. It could be a combination of things. You're always looking to be as productive as you possibly can, but if your job is to set the edge of the defense and push everything back in, sometimes that's going to put you in a position where you can't be as productive as you'd like.

Just as teams can't rely on the past to see them through in the present, Hobson can't count on the Bills' red, white and blue uniforms to transform him into a superhero. But he has put up some excellent games over his five seasons in the NFL. He has five of his 10 career sacks against Buffalo QBs, he forced a fumble as a rookie, returned a fumble for a touchdown in '06 and recovered a fumble in the teams' first meeting five weeks ago.

"Of course, you kind of have answers when you play a team you know," he said. "But the Bills change up every time we play them. They'll have something new from the last time we played. That's pretty much the standard in the NFL now. You don't want to come out and show too many tendencies each week. You've got to be like a chameleon."

The Jets also would like to change their colors, shed the skin of their first seven games and start that long-awaited turnaround. A win would give them payback for the 17-14 loss at Buffalo and would extend the teams' streak of splitting their home-and-home series to five consecutive years — the only other one of the NFL's 48 division rivalries to enter this season on a four-year streak of splits is Denver-Kansas City.

So that would bode well for a Jets win today, as would last year's Game 8 awakening and Hobson's track record against Buffalo. But as we all know, that stuff is all speculation, ancient history, just words. And as Chad Pennington said at midweek, "Talk is over."

It's time to do, and there's no better time for these Jets than the present.

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