FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- When the Jets' plane landed in Newark on Sunday night, just about everyone broke out their portable electronic devices, pulling up live action of the end of the Patriots-Giants game.
"You're definitely hearing the play-by-play," Rex Ryan said Monday. "[Mike] Tannenbaum's trying to get somebody to hold up their, what do they call those things? iPads? Yeah, we definitely heard it. It was great."
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So with the aid of their crosstown mates' comeback win over New England -- "I'd like to pay them back because that certainly helped us," Ryan said -- the Jets' prime-time matchup with the Patriots on Sunday night takes on added significance.
The Jets are in a three-way tie with the Patriots and Bills atop the AFC East at 5-3. That certainly seemed unlikely a month ago on the heels of their 30-21 loss to the Patriots in Foxboro.
But the Jets have turned things around, picking up their third straight win by pounding Buffalo, 27-11, on Sunday.
"It's progressed little by little, and right now, we are at the top," Ryan said. "This is the best Jet team so far [this season]. We needed to improve as a football team. We all know that. But we are going to see how much we've improved on Sunday. We have definitely been getting better these last three weeks, but we're going to see how much we improved."
The Jets got back to the recipe that was so successful for them in Ryan's first two seasons. They've run the ball for 392 yards in their last three games and have established lengthier drives, thanks to converting 20 of 39 third downs.
They've also stepped up their efficiency in the red zone, scoring a touchdown on 64 percent of their 25 possessions, which ranks fourth in the league.
"Once again," guard Brandon Moore said, "that goes back to the formula that works for us -- running the ball, completions, efficiency on third down, the defense getting stops, turnovers, capitalizing on that on offense . . . And in order for us to win, we have to play like that Sunday."
Even with the Patriots reeling somewhat. New England has dropped two straight games for only the fourth time since 2003, showing some serious vulnerability lately. Tom Brady hasn't been working his typical magic, throwing a pair of interceptions and getting sacked five times in the last two games. The Pats' 32nd-ranked 'D' is yielding 416.2 yards per game.
"It happens," safety Jim Leonhard said. "They're not invincible. They are a great football team, but they've got beat by some pretty good football teams as well. But I don't think they're going to panic in New England and we're not going to feel sorry for them, either."
Few shed tears for the Jets during their three-game swoon, especially when they dropped two games behind the Pats in the race for the division title. But they've heeded the speech Ryan gave them last month.
"He laid out for us a couple of weeks ago that if we come out of these next four weeks undefeated, we control the division," linebacker Aaron Maybin said. "And that's something everybody took to heart."
Come Sunday night, the Jets will see just how big their hearts are. "We had to get better as a football team and I think we've gotten better," Ryan said. "We'll see if we've gotten substantially better. But again, the proof is going to be in the pudding."