By Jason Keidel
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When I recently wrote that Todd Bowles and Josh McCown, the Jets' head coach and quarterback, deserved to return next year, the article was met with much resistance.
I'm still wondering why.
What more must Bowles and McCown do to prove they are doing exactly what has been asked of them, and quite well? If you doubt either's skill or will just ponder the game the Jets just played against the Kansas City Chiefs. With little to prove and less to play for, the Jets plodded and then plowed their way back to eventually win a game not many thought was possible, given how it started.
Remember, the Chiefs stormed out to a 14-0 lead in the game's first three minutes.
But after tying things up, the Jets matched the slumping-yet-still-nuclear Chiefs' offense score for score the rest of the way. They endured a rare explosion from Alex Smith, who threw for 366 yards and four touchdowns (and even had a 70-yard run). They endured a not-so-rare explosion from the fastest man in the sport, Tyreek Hill, who caught two long scoring passes. And, as often happens in shootouts, the last team to score won the game.
That would be the Jets, by winning the fourth quarter no less.
They did it with less-pedigreed players, a ragtag group that doesn't care about flash or fame or stats. Players that have been ignored or discarded or forgotten, and are too young to be recognized or too old to be recalled. The Jets just play hard, find a way to compete and, way more times than we expected, find a way to win.
And while we can't defend Bowles with any stats other than the team's 5-7 record, we do have some for McCown, who keeps playing well beyond the back of his football card. On this Sunday he completed 72 percent of his passes for 331 yards, one TD and zero INTs, for a fine passer rating of 109.8. And to crack a smile on his fantasy patrons, the 38-year-old also scored two rushing touchdowns.
Seriously, what's not to like about a guy who has thrown for a career-high 2,880 yards and 18 touchdowns, with just eight interceptions? What's so wrong with embracing a quarterback nine other NFL teams discarded over the previous 14 years?
That will continue to be an issue that should be debated. But more than McCown's stats, the Jets showed the kind of guts on Sunday that has eluded them for so many years, and has eluded their Big Blue, MetLife bunkmates this entire season.
Every time the Chiefs tried to pull away, the Jets crept back in.
You certainly can dismiss the Chiefs (6-6) following yet another loss that has further diminished the 5-0 start that had them the talk and chalk of the league. But let's not forget that this team wasted the Patriots and Eagles before October. The ability is certainly there. Now they're tied with the formerly 0-4 Chargers for first place in the AFC West and can still make the playoffs and be a dangerous out.
Or we can give credit to the Jets, who may have little to play for other than each other, and have little to prove, except to each other. It seems, though, that's enough.
And it was hard not to notice a former Jet on the other side, on the other team. Darrelle Revis, who seemed to own our area not too long ago, with Revis Island the most exclusive real estate this side of Sutton Place. Revis was once the best cornerback in the league, and the best player on a team that once had so much promise. That Jets team reached two AFC title games but was not quite able to scale the highest rungs of the sport.
Then there was Revis on Sunday -- out of shape, out of place, missing tackles, a little more than an ornament on a team that has lost its mojo.
The CBS crew cracked that the Jets paid Revis $5.7 million to play elsewhere, with the Chiefs paying $300,000 for whatever it was Revis did on Sunday. Maybe you can put a price on some players, but not on these Jets, who may not make the playoffs, yet are providing one of their more rewarding seasons in years.
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