FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - The Jets' belief in pulling off the improbable was formed nearly a year ago, during an unexpected playoff run that left them a game short of the Super Bowl.
"That showed guys that nothing is predetermined," center Nick Mangold said via conference call Monday. "If we keep going out there and keep working we're going to get things to fall our way. I think guys took that from last year, put that into this year and I think you're seeing it on a smaller level in each game."
"We don't stop fighting until the clock says zero," nose tackle Sione Pouha said.
He and his teammates don't believe the Jets were handed a victory by the Lions. Instead, they believe the final score is evidence of the character of their team.
"It just kind of shows that guys are ready at crunch time," Pouha said. "There's no secret potion or anything. I think guys are just hungry for wins and are more passionate and just want to get out there and get the 'W'. And that was evident on Sunday."
The late-game inefficiencies of years past remain in the past, Darrelle Revis said. The "same old Jets" have learned a thing or two and now are armed with an unwavering confidence in their collective abilities - and more importantly, their second-year quarterback Mark Sanchez.
"When the season was over last year, the coaching staff really just preached about finishing games out," Revis said. "Last year we struggled with that.
"It's just us pushing and not giving up as a team. We were down 20-10 and that was a tough place for us. Mark and the offense did a great job of doing what they needed to do and I think on the defensive side we did a great job, too, of just stopping those guys."
"I think this team is better than last year because we've learned from our mistakes from last year. And I think this year it's carrying over into our games and we get the wins."
Several players have pinpointed Sanchez's maturation as the biggest boost this season.
"When he was coming in, he barely knew anybody, knew what he had to know and the playbook," Mangold said of the quarterback, who threw for a career-high 336 yards on Sunday. "And now you look at him and he knows everybody inside and out, he knows the playbook inside and out and I think he keeps finding ways to win. Last year it was a little hit or miss if he was going to be there, and now you look at him and you know he's there."
Sanchez is no longer just a game manager. He's someone who can spur his team to victory, coach Rex Ryan said.
"I think you always judge quarterbacks the same way - and that's wins. After wins it would be fourth quarter," he said. "Can he lead his team back from being down in the fourth quarter? He's had two big ones already this year for us.
"It was really impressive what he's done. You see that confidence. The players have extreme confidence in him now and it's great to watch."