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Late signings, team chemistry help Jets’ win streak

Jermaine Kearse of the Jets scores a touchdown against

Jermaine Kearse of the Jets scores a touchdown against the Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on Oct. 8, 2017, in Cleveland. Credit: Getty Images / Jason Miller

The Jets’ three-game winning streak is fueled by togetherness and some late signings. It started at halftime of the Raiders game, a contest the Jets would lose, 45-20. But on that day, quarterback Josh McCown said the players started to believe.

“I just felt like in that locker room it was after something bad had just happened,” McCown said. “We were hoping to take the field and go down there and take the lead or tie the ballgame up, and then we had the muffed punt, and I feel like it could have gone one of two ways. With a young team you can get real down and discouraged, and instead it was upbeat and everybody from starters to backups, all different kinds of voices were being heard and being encouraging and I just think it was a good environment.”

And look where the Jets are now: In a three-way tie for first place in the AFC East. Sunday the Jets can make another statement, maybe the biggest of the year, should they defeat the Patriots, a 9 ½ point favorite, at MetLife Stadium.

These Jets don’t care about point spreads. They just care about togetherness.

“Everyone in this locker room doesn’t give up,” tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins said. “We all work really hard and we take it personal every single day we come into work. These guys take a lot of pride in their craft. We’re not going to come out here and just give up because it’s tough. It just means you go hard, you don’t stop.”

Part of the win streak has come thanks to contributions from a few late acquisitions.

Defensive end Kony Ealy was signed July 27 and knocked down four passes in a Week 4 victory against the Jaguars.

Cornerback Terrence Brooks, who was signed the same day, picked off two passes against Miami in Week 3. Brooks intercepted a pass on a fake punt and later snagged quarterback Jay Cutler’s pass in the fourth quarter. Brooks’ strong play as the third corner made Marcus Williams expendable and the Jets released him on Monday.

Receiver Jermaine Kearse was acquired in the Sheldon Richardson trade on Sept. 1. The Jets had a very young receiving corps, with their best player, Quincy Enunwa on injured reserve after undergoing season-ending neck surgery.

All Kearse has done is become a reliable target for McCown.

Kearse leads the team in catches (22), yards (220) and touchdowns (3).

“This whole team was basically put together a few days before the season,” Kearse said.

Receiver Jeremy Kerley, who had spent five seasons with the Jets, was signed Sept. 5 and defensive end/linebacker David Bass was acquired Sept. 21. Bass played extensively in the Week 5 win at Cleveland as Ealy sat with a shoulder injury.

The late signings and the Jets’ newfound chemistry are the biggest reasons for a win streak that has been ugly at times.

“We spoke about it after the [Raiders] game, and obviously we played hard, but by no means does the score indicate what occurred,” coach Todd Bowles said. “But we came together, and the fight was there, the belief was there and the effort was there, and guys understood what we had to do to start winning and try to start winning. I think they came together as a team on that day.”

Notes & quotes: The Jets signed running back Jahad Thomas to the practice squad on Tuesday. Thomas spent time in the Jets’ training camp before he was cut Sept. 2. Thomas’ signing is because of the health issues of starting running back Matt Forte (turf toe) and backup Bilal Powell (strained calf). Forte has missed the last two games and Powell’s status is uncertain for Sunday against the Patriots.

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