FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - One down, six more to go.
Sunday's win over the Raiders was much needed for the Jets and struggling rookie quarterback Geno Smith. But the satisfaction after ending a three-game losing streak had begun to dissipate by Monday morning.
The Jets (6-7) have bigger goals in sight. As crazy as it may sound, Rex Ryan's players have one mission: Super Bowl or bust.
That's the mission of any NFL team, and the Jets are no different. But Ryan & Co. know that beating the hapless Raiders (4-9) doesn't mean further improvement isn't necessary. As they look to balance their long-term goal with their immediate future, they remain undaunted in the quest to win out.
"Yes, sir. That's how we're looking at it,'' rookie defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson said. "That's the only way we can look at it. If we lose, we're out. And we don't want to be out.''
The Jets know that to make the playoffs, they have to approach each week as an elimination game. There's no room for letup, no excuses for mental errors. If they lose Sunday at Carolina and the Ravens win Monday night at Detroit, the Jets will be home in January.
But before they could look ahead, the Jets spent Monday going over the mistakes they made Sunday.
"We all needed it,'' guard Willie Colon said of the 37-27 win. "Right now we're happy where we're at, but we have a lot of work to do.''
Typically, players are afforded a "Victory Monday'' after wins, but they insisted on getting back to work immediately.
"I'm glad we brought the guys in. We have some things to correct, especially on defense,'' said Ryan, whose unit allowed a season-high 150 rushing yards. "Normally a big strength of ours is our gap integrity in the run.''
The Jets, who gave up a 63-yard TD run to Marcel Reece, no longer own the top-ranked run defense. That honor belongs to the Panthers (9-4), who give up 79.4 rushing yards per game. The Jets (82.6) are second.
"It's actually embarrassing any time you give up a run that long,'' said Ryan, whose defense is 11th overall. "Sometimes you can give up a pass that way, you feel bad about it. But it almost rips your heart out when you give up a run of that distance.''
Richardson said defensive line coach Karl Dunbar is "a little hot at us,'' but Richardson said, "We'll get that corrected.''
Smith (16-for-25, 219 yards, one TD, one INT) showed resiliency with a bounce-back performance and led three second-half scoring drives. Smith, who ran for a TD and gained 50 yards on five carries, had an 88.6 quarterback rating, his highest since Week 5 against Atlanta.
"On film, I've seen guys giving maximum effort,'' said Smith, whose 2,475 passing yards surpassed Mark Sanchez (2,444 in 2009) for the Jets' rookie record. "We've got to continue to work hard and get better. Try to win every single game from here on out.''
Six games to reach the Super Bowl.
"Every game is a playoff game for us,'' Richardson said. "That's our mentality right now. The only thing we can do is control wins and losses. And if the chips fall for us, they do. If they don't, we fought hard.''