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Jets Change the Narrative with Skill, Some Luck

Entering this season, the consensus by many "experts" was that the Green & White would stay in contention right down to the wire.

In contention for the No. 1 overall draft choice, that is.

Seven weeks later, the Jets are sitting one game above .500 at 4-3. We handed the once 4-0 New England Patriots their second loss in three weeks, while the once 3-0 Miami Dolphins came out of their bye week only to lose their third straight game.

The talk outside the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center walls has slowly but surely shifted from draft picks to playoffs as the Jets sit just one game back from the division-leading Pats. But still, as if the critics cannot wipe away their preconceived notions of what this team was "supposed" to be, the questions persist.

Are the 2013 New York Jets a force to be reckoned with? Or are they simply lucky?

Asked about the team's combination of good plays and good fortunes during this afternoon's conference call, QB Geno Smith replied, "I think you have to have some of that on both sides in order to be successful and to win games. It usually takes more skill than luck, but I think you do need a little bit of luck on your side."

It's easy to point to calls that have gone our way and label us as "lucky," not good.

After our Week 1 win over Tampa Bay, people said the 15-yard penalty by LB Lavonte David as Smith ran out of bounds was the reason for our win.

What wasn't talked about, however, was the fact that our offense had moved the ball 35 yards in less than 20 seconds, without the help of any yellow flags, to put themselves in a position to win the game.

After Sunday's win over New England, some are saying the 15-yard penalty by DT Chris Jones on the play in which K Nick Folk missed a 56-yard field goal attempt was the reason for our win.

What wasn't talked about, however, was the fact that our defense had forced Tom Brady and the Patriots to punt on the first drive of overtime after they — with luck on their side — won the OT coin toss.

As head coach Rex Ryan told media members on his conference call, "The focus is going to be wherever you guys want it to be, but I think we outplayed New England and I think that's why we won the game."

So push those pushes aside for a moment and change the lens through which you're viewing this year's New York Jets.

As Geno Smith conceded, you do need a little bit of luck on your side, but if you're going to point to luck as the reason for wins, it's necessary to point to luck as the reason for losses as well.

Luck hasn't exactly been on our side in the turnover category. We're tied for first in the AFC with eight forced fumbles, but only the Pittsburgh Steelers have fewer than our one fumble recovery.

On the injury front, we haven't been too lucky, either. We lost QB Mark Sanchez before the season started, hamstring injuries have kept both our No. 1 wideout, Santonio Holmes, and our No. 1 draft pick, CB Dee Milliner, out for three games apiece, and we'll have to finish the season without the help of key contributors — RB Mike Goodson, WR Clyde Gates and LB Antwan Barnes, just to name a few.

Many Patriots fans and critics of the Jets will continue to point to the penalty that kept our overtime drive alive as an explanation of how the Green & White squeezed out a "lucky" win, but maybe credit instead should be given to the Jets for actually knowing that new rule.

"From day one, we challenged our guys," Rex said after the game. "We know we can out-prepare people. We might not have this, we might not have that, but we can out-prepare them, and that's exactly the way we go about our business."

The Jets might not be the most skilled team in the league, but don't confuse preparation for luck as the reason we are sitting in second place in the AFC East within a game of first.

"I don't know if we were or were not lucky," Smith said, "but it's good to be 4-3 right now and we have an opportunity to put together some wins. That's all that matters around here. Not the way the games are won but the fact that they are won."

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