FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - They've been here before, floating in the stratosphere after a pair of impressive wins.
There was a point in their 9-7 season a year ago when the Jets were 8-3, bodysurfing a huge emotional wave that developed quickly on the heels of consecutive victories over the Patriots and the 10-0 Titans. But they were feeling their oats a bit too much, putting too many quarters in the hype machine that was cranking out silly Super Bowl talk with five games to go.
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Remember how that turned out?
"I think we've learned from last year," cornerback Darrelle Revis said Monday. "The mistakes that we made through the course of the season, where we were high and those last five games, I just think we didn't execute as well and didn't come ready for those games. This year, I think we have a group of guys in here that are mad about that from last year and don't want to let it happen again."
Only two games into a season in which many prognosticators didn't think much of their chances with a rookie quarterback and rookie coach, the Jets are one of the hottest teams in the NFL. The players might need extra massage therapy for all the pats on the back they've received for their 16-9 win over the Patriots on Sunday.
They've become the darlings of the NFL, with people giving them their props for holding two high-powered teams to a total of nine points and no offensive touchdowns. The only touchdown the Jets yielded was that 48-yard fumble return by safety Dominique Barber early in the fourth quarter of their 24-7 win in Houston.
Their defense, which hit or pressured Patriots quarterback Tom Brady 23 times, is second in fewest yards allowed. They've surrendered an average of 241 per game, trailing only the Colts, who played Miami last night.
Still, the players aren't about to get caught up in all those accolades. Been there, done that.
"Last year was a great learning experience for us and it was painful to go through," wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery said. "But we went and got through it, and right now, we have that learning tool from last year. We know what's at hand right now and we are going to continue to work hard, we're going to continue to get better and hopefully these wins will keep racking up."
One reason the players believe complacency won't set in - aside from the fact that they are welcoming the desperate 0-2 Titans to the Meadowlands on Sunday - stems from a change in philosophy regarding Mondays. Eric Mangini and Herman Edwards usually gave the players Mondays off after wins, which created back-to-back days off for players because Tuesdays are league-mandated days off for teams that played Sunday.
"You don't have guys off [Monday]," running back Leon Washington said. "So you can come in and still go to work and just realize that you can improve in so many areas."
Perhaps that should be enough motivation to fight off the complacency bug. Though the Jets have looked good, there are plenty of things they can shore up.
"We can improve in so many areas, but I like where we are headed," tackle Damien Woody said. "As long as guys stay focused and keep doing the little things, I think we can be a heck of a football team."