Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Defense, Run Game Do Job to End Slide

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Defense, Run Game Do Job to End Slide

Article excerpt

EAST RUTHERFORD -- The spark -- the one the Jets so desperately needed -- was supposed to come from a quarterback change.

That's what coach Todd Bowles was thinking last week, when he replaced the struggling Ryan Fitzpatrick with Geno Smith.

But for these Jets, things never seem to go according to plan.

Smith got hurt early Sunday, deeming the ballyhooed quarterback change moot. Fitzpatrick played solidly in an awkward relief appearance, later accusing team management of losing faith in him.

And the much-maligned defense and run game quietly stepped up, providing the spark as the Jets beat the Ravens, 24-16, to end a four-game losing streak.

"About damn time," Jets safety Calvin Pryor said after the Jets' first win since Sept. 15.

Those words perfectly captured the mood in the Jets locker room Sunday. There was no solace in ending a 38-day winless streak. There was no joy in improving to 2-5. There was only exasperation that it took so long to do what they felt they could do all along. Win.

"I don't think it's relief, I think it's frustration," Bowles said. "We're 2-5. ... We can't change the past, but we have something to do about the future. That's what we're going to work on."

The Jets still have plenty of issues, including a probable quarterback controversy. Smith looked good before suffering a second- quarter knee injury on a sack. Smith, who waited nearly two years for his chance to start again, had to watch the second half from the sideline in street clothes.

"That's how life works," said Smith, who finished 4-for-8 with 95 yards and a touchdown. "I'm not thinking about that right now. I'm just happy we won."

So less than a week after getting benched, Fitzpatrick led the Jets to a touchdown on his first drive back under center. He finished 9-for-14 for 120 yards and a touchdown. …

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