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SportsColumnistsBob Glauber

Rex Ryan focuses on mistakes after win

Jets head coach Rex Ryan looks on from

Jets head coach Rex Ryan looks on from the sideline during the second quarter of a game against the Oakland Raiders at MetLife Stadium on Sept. 7, 2014 in East Rutherford, N.J. Credit: Getty Images / Jeff Zelevansky

In his five-plus seasons as the Jets' coach, I can't remember Rex Ryan acting the way he did after yesterday's 19-14 win over the Raiders.

Oh, he was quick with the one-liners, as always. Like the shot he took at former Jets tackle Austin Howard, who suggested in a radio interview in Oakland on Thursday that he thought the Raiders might be able to "push the Jets around."

After his defense throttled Oakland's running game and his rushing attack sliced apart the Raiders' defense, Ryan quipped: "The Raiders were gonna come in here and push us around, that's what was told. They certainly did that . . . to the tune of 25 yards rushing. And they gave up [212] rushing."

But Ryan's overall tone was strikingly different this time. Never before had the man complained so long and so pointedly about his team's play after a win.

Not that he was wrong, mind you. There was plenty to complain about in a mistake-filled victory that included two turnovers, no takeaways, an eye-popping 11 penalties and about as many other lost opportunities to bury the Raiders.

Coaches like to say you never apologize for winning, but Ryan came awfully close. As far as he was concerned, about the only performance worth praising was that of the fans, most of whom did as he asked by wearing white and providing a steady stream of boisterous support.

"On a positive note, our fans were awesome," Ryan said. "We had a lot of white jerseys out there and towels. That's what it's supposed to be about. I'm counting on our fans."

And then this: "Our fans were better than our team was today."

Seriously, when can you remember Ryan ever taking a shot at his own team like that after a win? Try never.

"We'll take it, but I'm not very happy with it," he said. "It's a victory, but I know we have to get better."

No argument there. The Jets were lucky to win at home against a Raiders team that had lost its last 13 East Coast games and was starting rookie quarterback Derek Carr. And with that schedule the Jets face in the next two months, when they will play five 2013 playoff teams, there's no way they'll get away with this kind of stuff on a regular basis.

Rex knows it. His players know it. And that's why no one had a problem with saying as much after they got away with one against a bad Raiders team.

The list of transgressions was long:

Geno Smith had an interception in the first quarter that led to an Oakland touchdown. He fumbled near the Raiders' goal line in the second quarter and took a 19-yard sack in the fourth quarter to move the Jets out of field-goal range when they were clinging to a 13-7 lead.

Rookie safety Calvin Pryor, who otherwise had an excellent game, and Kyle Wilson dropped what should have been easy interceptions.

And the penalties. Oh, the penalties. Ryan has the entire organization do 10 push-ups each time there's a penalty in practice, but those constant reminders did nothing Sunday. Eleven penalties for 105 yards? Please.

Had the Jets' defense not been mostly terrific in holding the Raiders to 158 net yards, and had Chris Ivory and Chris Johnson not shredded the Raiders for a combined 170 rushing yards, this would have ended badly.

"It was close because of the penalties," Ryan said. "It's something we have to focus on. We talk about it, but it has to get done. We've just got to keep working. Obviously, we're not there.''

He added, "If we eliminate those penalties, take care of the football, it would have been over. It could have been a beat-down. It should have been a rat kill."

Smith knows it has to get better.

"We've got high expectations and we believe we have a really good team, but we can't shoot ourselves in the foot and we can't make excuses for it," he said. "We have to get better at the little things, the small details. It takes extra concentration. We have to concentrate a little bit harder, and it starts with me."

The Jets got away with one and Rex knows it. But unlike previous games in which his team might not have played particularly well and won anyway, Ryan wasn't willing to absolve his players.

Not this time. Not with this team -- a team he thinks can play into January. And maybe the first week in February.

New York Sports