It was an intense and often ugly game, but the mark of a great team is to win those types of games. Getting outgained and losing the turnover battle to the Denver Broncos wasn't enough to faze these New York Jets as they pulled off a fourth-quarter comeback to win 24-20. The next day, many of the offensive players reacted to the game in which the Jets were held down in the running game until late 20- and 2-yard touchdown runs from LaDainian Tomlinson put them on top.
"We've had a lot of games like that even last year," guard Brandon Moore said, "people stacking eight or nine guys in the box, which is a little bit of what they were doing. They were definitely in some goal-line defenses early, geared to stop our run. That's why we're a true group up front and you know that if you stick with it — and the coaching staff stuck with it — those runs kind of break open in the fourth quarter."
Tomlinson's 20-yard scamper on a stretch-play handoff from Mark Sanchez were made possible in part from the blocking of second-year guard Matt Slauson.
"He's doing well," Moore said of his colleague on the opposite side of the line. "That's what you're asking from him, to improve each game. That's definitely what he's doing. He got called out from Rex for having a great game, and it definitely showed up on film. It's definitely encouraging."
Many fans wondered about how Slauson would fare as he stepped in to replace Pro Bowler Alan Faneca, and since the opening weeks of the season, the Nebraska product has shouldered the load and helped the Green & White's line allow the Jets backs, entering today's games, to rush for the NFL's second-most yards per game and third-most yards per run, not to mention to their 5-1 record.
That final stat is the one that makes tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson proudest.
"It's a good feeling," Ferguson said. "But we know it's a long season so we know in order to maintain that best record we need to continue to push on. Luckily we've get a week to unload and relax a little bit before we go for our long haul."
Wide receiver Braylon Edwards isn't as intricately involved in the running attack as the aforementioned linemen, but the Michigan standout stands at an imposing 6'3" and 214 pounds and has the penchant for making big blocks on cornerbacks and safeties on run plays. More than just being able to make his imprint on the running game and watching how it has developed this year, Edwards is impressed by the Jets' ability to stay focused under pressure and work together.
"We've shown the world what we know," Edwards said, "which is that we're very resilient and we'll stick together. It's not over until there's 0:00 on the clock and we feel as though if we do the things that we're coached to do Monday through Saturday, we'll win games."
That last quote has to make head coach Rex Ryan and his staff happy, knowing that one of their key offensive weapons is as locked into understanding the game plan and getting better as they are. Earlier this week Ryan invoked a Bill Parcells-type philosophy by saying that "You are what your record says." Heading into Week 7, the Jets enjoy the best record in the NFL. Are they they best team in the league?
"That's still to be determined," Edwards said. "I feel that we still can get better. Just going by us versus us, I think that there are some things that we need to do to get better. Once we do these things and play more consistently in all phases, then we'll become the best team in our conference and eventually football. Right now we have the best record but I don't feel as though we're already there yet."