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Rex Ryan: 'Ridiculous' to say Jets played scared in loss

The New York Jets were given up for dead three weeks ago. They have won only one game since, but they have held their own in losses to the Houston Texans and the New England Patriots. The Jets steamrolled the Indianapolis Colts at home. Things actually are trending up.

"We're a much better team right now than we were three weeks ago," Jets coach Rex Ryan said.

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We agree with this. And yet the Jets have such a small margin for error. They could wind up looking back at Sunday's game in Foxborough as the turning point of the season. They outplayed the Patriots but found a way to lose.

Now the Jets need to beat the Miami Dolphins in Week 8 or fall to 3-5. NFL.com and NFL Network reporter Albert Breer notes the team is about to enter a crucial stretch.

"I realize how close we are, that, you know, Jeremy Kerley slips out of a break," Ryan said in reference to the game's final play when his receiver fell, causing Mark Sanchez to take a sack and fumble.

Ryan didn't mention that a drop by Stephen Hill was far more costly. The Patriots' defense couldn't stop New York late in the game, but the Jets stopped themselves. If the rookie held on to a wide-open, third-down pass, the Patriots probably never would've had a chance to go to overtime. The Jets' play-calling has been criticized in New York as too timid late in the game.

On NFL Network
NFL Replay
will re-air the New England Patriots' 29-26 OT win over the New York Jets in Week 7 on Tuesday, Oct. 23
at 8 p.m. ET.

» NFL Network schedule

"To say we were scared, that's ridiculous," Ryan said, via the New York Daily News. "That's somebody that probably never played in their life. People can write any opinion they want, but to say we're scared, that's not even close to accurate."

We agree with that. The Jets aren't playing scared, and they aren't playing poorly. They are playing just well enough to get beat by the true contenders.

If nothing else, the Jets picked the right year to be mediocre. Eight or nine wins could get them a wild-card spot in this ugly AFC.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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