Damien Woody stiff-legged it across the Jets' New Meadowlands Stadium locker room from the trainer's lair to his stall after the 26-10 Thanksgiving night victory over Cincinnati. Brandon Moore smiled his knowing smile.
"I've had that before — it's not easy," the Jets right guard said about his next-door neighbor. "Damien's a professional. He got the information he needed during the week. I'm sure it wasn't a perfect game, but I felt he definitely did a good job for us."
The right tackle, working his way through interviews as he worked his way into streetclothes, had similar praise for a little number that Moore achieved.
"Brandon's accomplishment is huge," Woody said. "It shows you the grit and determination on the offensive line. There's a phrase out there, 'overworked, underappreciated.' Nobody notices those things, but we pride ourselves in being out there every game, every snap."
Jets fans know by now that the O-line's two right-side anchors achieved different impressive feats in the win. For Moore, he made consecutive regular-season start No. 100, all as a Jet. It's the fourth-longest streak among active NFL guards and the ninth-longest among active offensive linemen.
"It feels good," he said. "If you would've told me back in '03, when I finally got a start, that I'd start 100 straight games, I would have thought you were crazy. It's really been a blessing. It's kind of what's expected of you as an O-lineman. Three things you can lean on are being dependable, consistent and durable. I've prided myself on that, probably played some games I shouldn't have."
Woody's achievement wasn't in a statistic — he extended his own Jets starting streak to a mere 43 games — but in lining up next to Moore all game. He didn't say he shouldn't have played on his sprained MCL, which sat him down for the last three quarters of the win over the Texans. But he didn't know during the week what was ahead for him on Thanksgiving.
"I wasn't sure — I mean, I really wasn't sure. Right now it hurts really bad," he said, although he didn't once wince as he remained standing in front of his locker. "But throughout the short week I was getting treatment around the clock. And I'm like, 'OK, I'm feeling better slowly.' I kept working at it, and you've got to give credit to the training staff. They really worked their butt off to try to get me out there."
The tales from the NFL trenches have been told and retold, although not usually as loudly as the sagas from the skill position guys or the defensive stars. As head coach Rex Ryan has said, football has a 100 percent injury rate. And any team's limping, aching O-linemen would confirm that every game, if you wanted to ask them and if they wanted to tell you.
"A lot of things happen in 100 games," D-Wood said cryptically. "To be able to put a streak together like that is tremendous. It's a credit to Brandon's toughness, and you've always got to have a little luck on your side."
Woody's an example of lineman's pride, Moore said, returning volley. "He could've easily shut it down and gotten ready for New England. But he didn't want to let the guys down."
The numbers, 100 straight, 43 in a row, are really secondary for these guys. Ironman streaks are one of the few things O-linemen can get recognized for individually, at least the good things. But "old pros" like Woody, who turned 33 this month, and the 30-year-old Moore, quickly put that stuff aside. They want to open holes for their backs, protect their QB, and most of all play well and win games.
That being said, they're not going to give any of the Jets' nine wins back but they also are aware that a complete game for them and their offensive teammates has been elusive.
"Guys are disappointed that we're not living up to the standards that we've set for ourselves and only scoring whatever it was at halftime," said Moore. "We've got too many playmakers, too many good players on offense to be scoring three points. Guys wanted to come out and start fast in the second half, and circumstances helped us with that. But then we had a lull in the fourth quarter trying to put them away.
"I don't know where the disconnect is there. We've all got to look in the mirror. Obviously we're not doing enough during the week, I think. But eventually we're going to get it fixed."
The Patriots will help in that regard. There are only two AFC teams at 9-2, after all. There's a long week ahead to rest up, study the video, install the game plan. The opponents know each other well. Both teams will be focused.
"I think it'll all work out," Moore said. And if it does, if the Jets come back home from Foxboro, Mass., with another road victory, their ninth straight and their biggest in years, it's a healthy bet that the Jets' right guard and right tackle will have helped paved the way.