When they lost in Cleveland two weeks ago, the Jets all but removed their margin of error for the rest of the season. They looked as impressive in this week's 17-14 win over the Patriots as they looked listless in that defeat in Cleveland. Chad Pennington played aggressively, made huge plays on third downs, and the Jets defense shut down the Patriots to hold on in the fourth quarter. Kevan Barlow capped a clinical second-quarter drive that included a conversion on a fourth-and-one gave the Jets a 7-3 lead, and allowed them to play more sensibly on offense.
The Patriots helped the Jets out. Coming off a loss at home to the Colts, New England should been ready to pound the Jets. Instead, Tom Brady lacked his usual magic, and his offense wilted under the pressure of the Jets' defense. The Pats have looked uncomfortable playing from behind over the last two weeks, and that's why this game turned with the Jets' second-quarter score.
At 5-4, the Jets face a stiff test against the Bears next week before a softening of their schedule. To remain in the playoff hunt, they needed a split of the two games between New England and Chicago. They have it, but their margin of error still isn't big enough for them to be satisfied with what they accomplished today.
Photograph of the Jets celebrating sacking of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady by Stephan Savoia/AP